When faced with a daunting driveway to shovel, or worse, a parking lot to clear, it can be a blessing to have some sort of plow with you.
UTVs offer a very welcome middle ground between having only a shovel or a snowblower, and an all-out 4×4 with a plow attachment.
Are UTVs good for plowing snow?
UTVs are great snow plows, if the area you’re plowing is the right size. If you have a small driveway that needs plowing, it may be overkill, but UTVs are very useful for plowing longer driveways or even parking lots; places too small for a massive snow plow, but still too big for just a shovel.
Plowing snow with your UTV can be a hassle if you aren’t prepared. In this article we will try to explore everything you need to know about plowing snow with your UTV.
How to equip your UTV for plowing snow?
First thing’s first, purchasing and attaching your snow plow to your UTV. Exactly which plow to choose will depend largely on your needs.
If you’re plowing a driveway or parking lot, and don’t expect a ridiculous amount of snow, you’ll probably be better off purchasing a straight plow.
If, however you need to plow a long unpaved driveway, or you expect to encounter large amounts of snow, you’ll be happy to have purchased a Vplow, as they’re better at pushing through large quantities of snow and ice when needed.
Once you have your plow, it’s time to install it.
Each plow will have its own installation instructions, of course, so be sure to follow them to the letter, but by and large, plows usually come with a mounting bracket that you attach to the front of your UTV, on which you can mount the actual plow itself. Simple as that.
An important note is that it’s helpful to have a winch installed in your UTV.
Unless you purchase a plow with its own hydraulics and controls, you’ll need a winch to lift and lower the plow, unless you want to manually move the plow up and down, which you may.
While the bare minimum of gear necessary to plow snow with a UTV, is a UTV and a snow plow, it may be helpful to have a few other items.
- Plow Markers – When plowing very deep snow, or navigating around delicate things like sprinklers or fire hydrants, knowing exactly where your plow is under the snow will save you a lot of headache. This is where plow markers come in. These thin flexible rods attach at the outermost corners of your plow and stick up about two feet into the air with fluorescent colorful caps, to let you know where everything is.
- Plow Wing – Plow wings attach to the side of the plow itself, and keep the snow from flowing off to that side. This makes it easier to control the snow you’re plowing, making it a cleaner, faster job.
- Replacement Rope For Winch – As mentioned above, most plows use an already installed winch attached to the UTV to hoist and lower the plow itself. This, as you might imagine, puts tremendous amounts of strain on the cable or rope you have installed in the winch. To save you the hassle of wearing out your expensive winch rope, many people recommend purchasing some cheap nylon rope to use exclusively with the plow, that way if it does wear down to nothing, it was a cheap expense.
- Plastic Wear Bar – Most plows have pre installed on their bottom rim, a metal wear bar. A plastic one is easily installed with only a few nuts and bolts, and it allows for a much smoother ride. The plastic glides smoothly over the surface you’re plowing, and you run less of a risk of damaging any pavement that lays under the snow.
- Windshield – It can get cold out there, especially if you have a lot of snow to plow. While a windshield won’t protect you from all of the cold wind coming from either side, it will protect you from all the snow that will be flying over top of the plow, directly toward your face. It’s a good idea to have one of these.
- Warm Clothing – This should be a no-brainer, unless you’re into being freezing cold, a few layers can make the whole plowing experience much much nicer.
What kind of tires are best for snow and traction?
There are several different types of tires on the market for your UTV, however snow specific tires are largely unnecessary.
This is because in many cases an ATV/UTV tire designed for mud and dirt will work just fine in the snow and slush.
You see, UTV tires designed for mud are naturally very wide, with deep 1-2 inch treads.
This gives the mud plenty of room to disperse, giving you better traction. In the snow, you need the same things.
If the snow gets packed into your threads it’ll be like you’re trying to drive on ice, instead of rubber wheels.
Using tires designed for mud will allow the snow and slush to disperse giving you better traction while driving in the snow.
If mud tires aren’t enough to keep you from sliding around, which they should be, you may want to invest in some snow chains.
Snow chains wrap around the tire, and are secured tightly in place and offer tremendous amounts of traction.
How to put chains on UTV tires?
Putting snow chains on UTV tires is even easier than putting them on your car or truck’s tires.
There are several different types of snow chains you could purchase, in this section we’ll explore how to put two of the most popular kinds of chains onto your UTV tires.
Cable Snow Chains
A common type of snow chain, while it’s a misnomer, uses steel cable surrounded with gripping rings, instead of actual chain links.
These types of snow chains disassemble and reassemble easily, making them easy to put on your tires in a few simple steps.
First lay the chain out flat, to be sure that it isn’t tangled in itself. This type of snow chain should come with a few labels telling you what part is the top and bottom.
This is important because they’re designed to have all of their fasteners on one side, and it’d make the job much harder if all the fasteners were on the backside of the tire.
Wrap the first bottom opening around the tire from the back side of the tire, and connect that first fastener on the front side.
Then wrap the chain up around the tire itself, and connect all the fasteners. Once everything is connected, you can tighten the chain to the tire by cinching it with a bungee cord or two.
These, the more common kind of snow chains, come in many different configurations.
The most common configuration is the ladder configuration. So named because when laid out flat it looks like a tiny chain ladder.
Before putting the chains on the tires, lay the chains out flat to be sure that there aren’t any twists in the chain that might damage your tires.
Once you’ve ensured that nothing is twisted, you can lay the snow chains over top of the tire this time.
Next, while making sure that any vital components don’t get crushed, roll the UTV forward over one end of the chains and attach one end to the other.
Finally, you can tighten the chains using any built in chain tighteners, or perhaps simply by attaching a bungee cord or two.
How to plow snow with a UTV?
Before you begin plowing, because I know you’re excited, it may be a good idea to clearly mark any object you need to maneuver around while you’re plowing, by putting markers or flags around the spots to be avoided.
Such areas might include sprinkler heads that do not retract or a fire hydrant that may be buried under the snow.
Once everything is marked, you’re all set and you can get started plowing.
Most of the plowing should be pretty intuitive, but in case you want to get ahead of the curve, here are a couple of useful techniques for plowing more efficiently.
While it’s your prerogative on how best to push snow out of your way, there are times when a slight shift in your plow’s angle could make a world of difference.
For instance, when you have a long but narrow area to plow, it may be helpful to angle your plow’s blade to one side, and drive forward and back in lines, these are called Windrows.
Beware though, doing this for too long can pile up the snow too high, making it hard, or even impossible to push on future runs.
You can remedy this by on occasion turning the plow to face the other way, and separating the snow into smaller rows, or you can just as easily plow in a different pattern, again, separating the bulk into smaller manageable chunks.
An alternative to this method is to keep the plow straight.
On long stretches, you should expect the snow to flow evenly off of both sides unless you have a plow wing. With this technique, you aren’t tied to a single pattern of plowing and you can get creative. Remember to use ramps for the tranportation.
Piling the snow
One of the biggest hassles while plowing snow is being sure to plow it out of the way.
Be sure to check your local laws, and make sure not to inconvenience someone else’s snow plowing by piling up your snow on their property; be conscientious of other people’s land and needs.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot to pile your snow, be sure that you have enough room for all of it.
Snow piles plowed by UTVs tend not to be taller than a few feet, which means they take up more area than you might expect.
Survey the area ahead of time and decide where to pile your snow, and even clear a spot if necessary.
One technique to help with this problem of pile height, is to do what’s called ramping. This is when you steadily lift your plow, as you are driving into the pile.
This will take the snow you’ve been plowing and actually push it up and over the edge, higher up on top of the pile, which means you can store more snow in a smaller area.
One safety tip: When piling snow, be sure not to lift your plow until you’ve at least begun to back away from the pile.
If you try to raise the plow head too soon, it could be trapped in the pile and you could damage the plow, or worse your UTV.
It’s important to not have a flat battery.