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One of the most popular used trucks for sale, a silver 2023 Ford F-150, is shown driving through snow.

Choosing the Right Used Truck for Plowing Snow

Buying a light-duty or heavy-duty truck for specific purposes is common for many truck shoppers, especially if you’re looking for a used work truck. Sometimes, you buy a truck specifically for payload hauling; other times, you buy it specifically for towing; and sometimes, you buy a truck specifically for plowing. Plowing is often an overlooked aspect of the truck market because it’s not as appealing as some other easy-to-sell features when shopping for used trucks for sale near you. The big ticket items are often trailering technology, infotainment, and comfort and convenience features.

However, if you’re shopping for a truck that is also capable of being used for plowing snow, then you’re going to need a specific kind of truck that can handle the workload and, in many ways, already comes prepped for the task. This is where it’s important to have an idea of which truck best suits you for your specific tasks, and in this case, if snow plowing is what you need the truck for, you’re going to need to choose the right kind of used truck for the task. So, let’s go through some of the things you need from a used truck to get the most out of snow plowing and some of the best trucks for the job.

Plowing With a Rear-Wheel Drive Truck vs. Four-Wheel Drive Truck

When it comes to snow plowing, you need to consider that the vehicle’s drivetrain will change how it performs. Rear-wheel drive trucks don’t have the stability and traction control you get with four-wheel drive vehicles; this is obviously because rear-wheel drive vehicles have all of the torque at the rear. Meanwhile, with a four-wheel drive vehicle, the torque is distributed through all four wheels thanks to the transfer case.

A four-wheel drive vehicle will enable you to maintain greater traction control whether on or off the road when snow-plowing, and that is vital for those who plan on plowing deep snow or snow in difficult-to-reach places or uneven roads. While rear-wheel drive vehicles are great for towing and offer the best trailering capacity, they don’t work quite as reliably for deep snow plowing.

Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t use a rear-wheel drive truck for snow plowing, but you will need to consider how to balance the truck’s weight and ensure you take care of where you plow with a rear-wheel drive truck. Parking lots and driveways with mostly flat surfaces are perfectly fine to plow with a rear-wheel drive truck, but anything off-road involving undulating roads or uneven terrain and a four-wheel drive truck will be essential.

A Front Receiver Hitch vs. A Rear Receiver Hitch

Most trucks come with a rear receiver hitch attached to the frame just under or behind the cargo box. You can mount a snow plow to the rear of a pickup truck and use reverse plowing to push the snow with your truck. The good part about it is that most used trucks for sale from newer generations come with automatic rear hitch receivers, so it alleviates some required aspects of using the truck to plow snow.

However, rear hitch receivers for plowing snow are not the most effective way to plow. Front hitch receivers are used for most snow plow prep packages so that you can mount the plow to the front of the vehicle’s chassis. Since front receivers are less common than rear receivers, they do require installation and are usually purchased separately or as part of a prep package for the truck. Thus, front receivers do add an additional cost to the truck compared to rear receivers, but front receivers are most common for snow plowing due to being easier to maneuver the truck and more functional than rear snow plows.

The thing to consider is that you can actually get front and rear snow plows for front and rear receiver hitches on your vehicle. In four-wheel drive, having a front and rear receiver with a front and rear snow plow installed means you can plow snow from both directions, which is great for plowing difficult-to-reach areas. However, if all you can afford is a truck and a basic snow plow, then you may have to settle for a plow for the rear receiver, while if you have enough for a proper snow plow prep package, you can get an affordable used truck and a proper snow plow package with front mounts for the receiver.

A red 2021 Ford F-150 is shown driving on a bridge.

Light-Duty vs. Heavy Duty Trucks

Another big consideration for choosing the right truck for snow plowing is whether to go with a light-duty or heavy-duty used pickup. Some of you might be wondering about midsize pickups or compact pickups for snow plowing, but moving heavy snow with a small vehicle is a recipe for disaster, as they typically don’t possess the chassis strength or torque to move large amounts of snow. You run the risk of damaging the frame or blowing out the transmission in the process. This is why typically, if you’re serious about plowing snow, either as part of a business or for keeping your local property or community clear of snow, a full-size pickup truck is highly recommended.

Now if you’re planning on doing a lot of plowing – either regularly as a daily thing, or periodically as a weekly thing – it will determine whether you need a light-duty or heavy-duty for the task. The benefits of a light-duty for snow plowing is that they guzzle less fuel, are easier to handle on the road, and still work well as daily drivers when you aren’t plowing snow.

The downside to light-duty trucks, however, is that even though they have a much higher strength chassis than their midsize/compact siblings, and even though light-duty trucks have bigger powertrains with more horsepower and torque, they still don’t have the performance or durability that comes with a heavy-duty truck. Light-duty pickups have a limited snow plow weight rating, so that’s also something to consider. Additionally, the constant use of a light-duty truck will quickly wear down its components when plowing heavy snow. However, for occasional plowing, a light-duty truck works well for the job.

Heavy-duty trucks are perfectly suited for the task of plowing snow. Whether you opt for a three-quarter or one-ton heavy-duty pickup truck, they offer you the kind of performance scaling and durability needed to get the most out of the truck. Heavy-duty trucks are also rated to house heavier snow plows of a professional grade. Is it still possible you could burn out the transmission or ruin the axles by overworking the truck? It’s possible, but the heavy-duty trucks are built to withstand a lot more punishment than compact and light-duty pickups, so you can plow more, move more, and work harder using a heavy-duty truck, making it an excellent option if you plan on using the truck quite often to move a lot of snow.

Trucks to Consider for Plowing Snow

Some of the best trucks available for plowing snow come with all the necessary basics for plowing snow, whether it’s a light-duty pickup or a heavy-duty variant. The top three snow-plowing trucks are from the big three automakers: Ford, GM, and Ram. The Ford F-Series of trucks are available with plow prep options directly available from the dealer and across their entire cab configuration, so you can upfit the snow plow and control it from the cabin.

Chevy and GMC’s Silverado and Sierra series of light-duty and heavy-duty pickups can also utilize their own snow plow prep packages. They also have a lot of modular design utilities, such as removable air dams and quality-of-life adjustments to hide upfitting cables. Ram trucks of the light and heavy-duty variety also come with a snow plow prep package for everything you need to attach and harness a plow, as well as plow efficiently for a cost-effective price. So, getting a used iteration of a Ram, Chevy, GMC, or Ford truck is an excellent route to go if you want to cut down on hassles and get straight to snow plowing.

A black 2020 GMC Canyon is shown driving over a snowy bridge.

Consider the Right Used Truck for Plowing

Now that you have an idea of what to shop for, hopefully, it will help you find the right kind of used and affordable truck for plowing snow. You opt for a light-duty truck with a rear plow if you want to save money but also have something useful and functional. You can go with a front and rear plow if you’re planning on doing some serious plowing. Or, you can opt for a heavy-duty truck with a front plow if you have to deal with a lot of heavy pile-ups and move lots of snow out of a packed street. In either case, you’ll want to get a truck that respects your budget but also provides you with the right kind of utility to get the most out of the truck when plowing snow.