Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant and has a slight advantage over mild steel in “slickness.” Some also consider it to be the most visually appealing. Consequently, it is more prone to dents and scratches. Any rocks you hit will leave “dings” on the plow. Over time, this may look unsightly and could affect the plow's performance.
There’s no doubt that mild steel is the industry standard. It has been used to manufacture plows for decades. Steel plows are treated with a zinc powder coating to help prevent rust. However, over time rust will occur. Still, mild steel plows can be relied upon to be durable, rigid and valuable.
Ease of Use
The winter season is a rough one. You’ll need to be able to attach your plow in the worst conditions it can toss out, including in the dark, cold, snow, ice, sleet, salt and grime. When shopping for a plow, you want to evaluate the attachment system as they vary from one manufacturer to another. Ease of use is one of the main selling points of an attachment system. Look for one that you can quickly attach your truck to and begin your plowing job. If you are a snow contractor, you will also want to consider the attachment system's ability to switch between multiple trucks in your fleet. This also varies by manufacturer.
Lighting and Control Systems
Visibility is one of the most important components while clearing snow. During major snow events, or even simply plowing at night, visibility is often reduced due to the combination of darkness and blowing/drifting snow. A reliable, efficient lighting system—like a high-output, dual burning system—is a key element to a good plow product. The mounting system should be taken into serious consideration as well. Many manufacturers use a dual-stud system. While plowing, these are often prone to loosening and moving, a great source of frustration for the operator. Instead, look for a system that uses a two-piece “clamp” design, which will keep the headlights in place.
The controller is also a vital aspect to a plow system. The controller is the source of the only real interface you’ll have with your snowplow. Thus, it’s important that it is effective and easy to use. Every manufacturer offers the traditional joystick or touchpad controller with keypad to quickly position the plow in any way you want. Some controllers can have up to eight buttons on them, making it difficult for beginners or people with larger hands to learn and use. Again, ease of use is important for a snowplow, so look for controllers with fewer, large buttons for easier use and learning.
What kind of vehicle are you going to use?
Knowing what kind of vehicle you intend on using is essential to matching up the right plow. All vehicles have a specific FGAWR, or Front Gross Axle Weight Rating, which is the available capacity of weight on the front of a vehicle. You cannot exceed this amount when adding a plow to your truck. The bigger the plow, the heavier it is.
For commercial work, since you will probably require a larger plow, you will need at least a 3/4-ton pickup truck whose FGAWR can handle the weight of larger plows. For personal plow use, a 1/2-ton truck, or in some cases even smaller, should be ample for your needs. A good UTV or ATV plow will also clear driveways with just as much satisfaction.
Most plow manufacturers have plow selector tools available on their websites to determine what type of plow your truck can handle.
New Vs. Used
It’s always exciting to buy something new. No one has ever used it, it’s in mint condition, and now it’s yours. However, sometimes buying new isn’t always as practical as buying used, especially if you plan on starting a business from the ground up.
Many snowplow dealers offer quality, used plows. This is where having a good relationship with your local dealer is really going to pay off. Your dealer is the one who will have your back when it comes to making sure the plow you are considering has been thoroughly inspected and parts that need to be replaced get replaced.
While considering a used snowplow, look for any obvious damage. Paint chips and scratches are normal and can be touched up. You need to look for serious abuse like bent blades or beams, etc. Look for damage to the major components and speak with your dealer.