Off-Road Vehicle Snow Plowing Tips
When using a plow system with your off-road vehicle, keep the following tips in mind. Not only will they keep you safe, but they’ll increase the lifespan of your plow system and improve the quality of your plowing.
Before starting, think about the best direction to plow. Consider where you would like your snow piles and where water will go when snow melts. Start in the center and plow outward when possible. Minimize changes to blade angle, re-positioning and backing up as much as realistic.
Be aware of possible hidden objects under the snow. Consider marking driveway borders and other obstacles before the ground freezes.
Prepare by pushing snow piles farther and plowing your driveway wider than its border, especially early in the winter. This will give you more room for the next snowstorm and help to prevent drifting when the wind picks up. Old snow often turns to ice which can be hazardous to have in the way of your plow or other vehicles.
Always wear the appropriate protective clothing as recommended in your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual and be especially cautious of cold, snowy weather. Appropriate clothing can include a winter-rated helmet, insulated and water-resistant gloves, warm and layered clothing, insulated and slip-resistant boots, and fog-resistant eye protection such as helmet face-shields, goggles, or safety glasses.
Avoid piling snow on or near property lines, streets, sidewalks, road ditches, mailboxes, drains, electrical boxes, fire hydrants or across roads. Carry a cell phone in case of emergency.
Read the blade Owner’s Manual, your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual and all safety decals before operating the plow system.
Use low gear, All-Wheel Drive and do not exceed 5 mph (8 km/h) with the blade installed. Speed is the number one factor in damage to the plow, vehicle, and surroundings. Even with the blade up, operating at higher speeds can alter vehicle performance due to the weight of the plow.
Do not ram the blade into a snow pile. Slow down before contacting a pile. Come to a complete stop before shifting from forward to reverse. When plowing snow into a pile, start backing up before raising the blade.
Before adjusting the blade angle, stop the vehicle, place the gear selector in park, and then raise the blade with the winch or hydraulic lift. Do not attempt to raise the blade by hand.
Operate with caution especially on slopes, grades and rough terrain.
Keep bystanders away from the blade and vehicle while in operation.
If you’ve installed your winch or plow for the first time, re-torque all bolts and nuts after the first 30 minutes of use and periodically throughout each season. To learn more about operating a winch, read How to Use a Winch on Your ORV. Inspect your plow system before, during and after use. Look for loose parts, winch damage, and snow/ice build-up. Be sure your plow is ready prior to the next big storm. Inspect your plow system before, during and after use. Look for loose parts, winch damage, and snow/ice build-up. Be sure your plow is ready prior to the next big storm.
Do not allow riders on the blade or vehicle while plowing.
Never quickly and repeatedly tap or “jog” the winch switch up or down. This puts extra load on the winch, winch cable/rope and battery. It also generates excessive heat from the winch motor.
You’re likely to face cold and windy weather during plowing season. For ATVs and side by sides, accessories like windshields, heated seats and grips, handguards, handlebar gauntlets, and full cabs can make your plowing much more enjoyable. Winches with ropes are preferred over cables for plowing as heavy use can shorten the life of a steel cable.
To offset plow weight, consider increasing the vehicle's front spring preload. Remove the blade and plow frame before trail riding. Plow mounting reduces ground clearance.
When parking the vehicle, stop the engine, place the gear selector in park and lower the blade to the down position. This takes the weight of the plow off the front suspension and removes pressure from the winch or hydraulic lift cylinder. A board, mat or cardboard can be placed between the lowered blade and your floor to reduce marks on your garage floor.
On some plow models the winch link can be adjusted by loosening or tightening the nut in order to control the maximum blade height when lifting with a winch and should be adjusted as shown in the plow installation instructions.
To improve traction, you can use tire chains, add weight to the vehicle or take smaller paths with the plow blade. If using tire chains, add them to all four tires.
Taking a smaller path by using only half the blade width or plowing with the angle set as steep as possible means less snow weight on the blade and improves traction.
Tire chains help improve traction on icy surfaces but be aware they can cause damage to lawns or driveways.
Adding weight to the vehicle racks or cargo areas can improve traction as well. Be sure to tie down extra weight or any cargo, and do not exceed recommended weight limits.
If heavy snow accumulation is expected, don’t wait until the storm is over. Because of the weight, plowing 6 inches of snow twice will give you better traction and better results than plowing 12 inches of snow once, especially when wind leads to deep drifts. If heavy or deep snow is affecting traction, raise the blade several inches off the ground to move the top layer, and then come back and lower the blade on a second pass.
As part of pre-ride inspection, verify proper tire pressure specific to your vehicle and tires.
Note: The provided information is a general guideline. To ensure proper operation of your vehicle and plow, consult the Owner’s Manual and plow instructions. Polaris owners can access their Owner’s Manual by logging in to their RideReady account.
RideReady provides mobile, transport or drop-off service options for off-road vehicles. To learn more about the RideReady program, access our frequently asked questions.