Hey everybody. With the blizzard we got in KC I finally got enough snow to really test my receiver hitch snow plow out. Read more for results and lots of pics so you can build one too!
If you want to start from the beginning or jump to a certain part, here is an index of the snow plow build process:
DIY Receiver Hitch Snow Plow – Part 1 – lifting frame and winch
DIY Receiver Hitch Snow Plow – Part 2 – Completion of lifting frame
DIY Receiver Hitch Snow Plow – Part 3 – Building Plow pivot and cutting edge
DIY Receiver Hitch Snow Plow – Part 4 – Complete plow frame and assembly (First time plowing snow!)
DIY Receiver Hitch Snow Plow – Part 5 – Build blade angle adjuster
DIY Receiver Hitch Snow Plow – In Action! – Action pics and final thoughts
Today we had our first blizzard in KC since 2011. Glad to say I was ready for it. I had been waiting for some significant snow to test the limits of my receiver hitch snow plow since I built it in ~2016.
I will preface this article with unless you have a 4wd truck, you are probably going to need proper tires to plow snow. Even if you do have 4wd, it doesn’t do much good if your tires are bald.
I have run Snow tires year round for many years now starting with my Honda Accord that I originally built this snow plow for. On the Honda I put the cheapest snow tires I could find on it and they were LOUD (I hated the noise, but they worked). I have since found Michelin X-ice XI3 tires and LOVE them. They are super quiet and grippy, I run them year round and am about to replace the ones on the van that now have 36,000 miles on them. They still have some tread left, but I had a bad strut bearing on the front of my van and it started wearing tires weird so they really just need replaced at this point. Tires is one place where I have no reservations on replacing to keep my family safe and me off the side of the road.
This was the first time that we got snow deep enough to really test the van and it’s snow tires. In the past it has been no problem and I would plow my driveway then some of the neighbors and the parents driveways. Today the only drive that got plowed was mine, the snow was just too deep for me to get far away from home. I feel like I could have made it but didn’t want to push my luck.
As a tribute to snow tires there was a minivan that was trying to pull out of my neighborhood that had to try about 5 times to get going. Meanwhile I was driving around with relative ease with a plow on the back pushing snow on 80% worn snow tires. Not only is the tread pattern different (more complex, lots of sipes and holes for grip) but they are also made from a much softer rubber that is good for superior grip over an all season tire which are a lot harder for longer life. I haven’t had a 4wd vehicle since 2015 and as long as my current vehicles are equipped with good proper tires I really haven’t needed 4wd.
Just to show I put my money where my mouth is, here are some pics of the tires sitting in the garage today waiting for me to get them installed after I get an alignment (I just put struts on the van 2 days ago).
Snow plow performance
Enough about tires, how well does the plow work?
Pretty good in my opinion and I think my back agrees.
Since the plow fits in the receiver hitch, it only takes 5 min to install. I pin it in the receiver and hook up the power and ground with the anderson style connectors that I added after the initial build posts. Once you have the wires set up, you can add the Anderson connectors by cutting the wire and crimping them on each side. Just make sure you select the right size connector for the wire you are using (I put a link below to the ones I used). The winch I selected is remote controlled so I don’t have to mess with any extra wires to control it.
I won’t lie, the snow was pretty deep and the first pass or two I had to back up and hit it a little bit. Once I got the initial lane cleared it was easy going with a slight overlap. It is kind of like mowing where you overlap the pass you just made a little to make sure you get it all and to make it a little easier.
Technique & Angling the plow
One thing that I built into the plow that I use often is the ability to angle the plow. I tried to make it super simple using a long jack screw and a couple of nuts. All I do is chuck a 3/8’s socket driver in my drill and screw it in/out depending on if I want it straight, angled left, or angled right.
So it is logical that if you angle the blade you want to start on one side of the driveway and work towards the other side. For example in the picture above with the blade angled so it is casting the extras toward the drivers side, you would want to start on the right side of the driveway and work toward the left side that way any extras would eventually be piled on the grass at the left side.
Backing to plow. This snow was actually deep enough that going down my street I just dropped the plow and plowed in reverse until I got to the ditch. This way I didn’t have to drive through the deep snow.
I built the plow so the blade could be un-pinned and flipped around for pushing snow in reverse, but honestly I have never actually flipped it. The HDPE blade has held up surprisingly well even with me backing to plow. The reason I built this as a pull plow is because 90% of what I am doing with it is driveways which are really great to back into, drop the plow, and pull the snow out into the street for the big boy city plows to come by and take away.
Drawbacks / comprimises
For a full review I need to also talk about the drawbacks of this particular project.
- The plow isn’t quite heavy enough to scrape up the last 1/2″ of slush/ice. This is a compromise because I built the plow light enough to be put on a Honda Accord or riding Mower. If you were to build a heavier blade, it might scrape better but it would also limit what you could attach it to.
To see how I put a receiver hitch on my zero turn check out this article: DIY Zero Turn Mower Receiver Hitch
- You need to be conscious of it’s position. In January this year when plowing I let my boy push the button on the remote one time too many which resulted in a broken winch cable. Not a huge deal, about 15 minutes and a cable repair later and we were back to plowing.
- It is just a little too long to fit in the garage. This is not a fault of the plow as much as it is the fault of my garage. At my last house the garage was deeper and I could fit the whole rig in there. Now I have to remove the plow to close the garage (or park outside which is no fun…). I only mention it here to be something you consider when selecting or building a plow for yourself.
Was it worth it? Hell yea
Even though we only get a handful of snows in KC each year it is totally worth it to have a plow around. I have used the plow multiple times a year every year since I built it. My driveway is 3 cars wide and would take way too much time to do by hand. Now I can spend quality time with my (3 year old) boy in the heat while he eats mints from the center console and strews his toys throughout the van.
Make sure you take 5 extra minutes to put the plow away properly. After each snow I usually douse all of the moving parts with WD40 and spray paint any bare spots to keep the rust away (even though it still ends up being rusty, at least it won’t rust as fast or get locked up).
Hope this helps. Now YOU, go outside and build something!