Preventive Maintenance: Grow Business, Not Overhead

Courtesy of Buyers Products & SIMA

Preventive maintenance keeps your equipment young and your expenses low.

Routine Plow Maintenancepreventive maintenance

  1. Check the hoses in your plow routing and look for any leaks or signs of wear.
  2. Tighten all the thumb screws. If you have a V-Plow, make sure the screws holding the covers on are secured tight. Replacing a cover because the screws fell out on the road is an expensive and easily preventable setback.
  3. Inspect your cutting edge and shoes. Assess the cutting edge for signs of uneven wear. Make sure the shoes aren’t worn down and can still do their job. Fatigued parts can expose your plow to damage and should be replaced.
  4. Make sure your pins are attached and in position. If your pins aren’t properly positioned, the plow may disengage and damage the mounting. Get into the habit of checking, so you’re not in for a nasty surprise later.
  5. Check your spring tension. Make sure your trip springs are properly calibrated. A loose spring can cause the trip mechanism to malfunction, leaving your plow vulnerable to damage every time it tries to trip.
  6. Wipe down and inspect your plow lights. Clean the lights to maximize your road visibility. While you’re cleaning you can also make sure the housings are tight and no wiring or electrical components are exposed.

Before you remove the plow from your truck:

  • Extend and grease all chrome cylinder rods. Fully compress all cylinders where possible. Greasing the cylinder rods and then compressing the cylinders will help to protect them from rust during summer storage.

After you remove the plow from your truck:

  • Coat all electrical connection points with dielectric grease. This protects connection points from corrosion.
  • Apply a coat of oil or grease to all pivot points on your plow, including the A-frame, angle cylinder, and trip springs. Also grease all fittings on trip pins and on the kingpin/hinge.
  • Repair and touch up any chipped paint or rusted areas on your plow to prevent further rusting during the off-season. If your plow is made of stainless steel, you may want to apply a light coat of mineral oil to protect the surface.
  • Don’t change the oil. Wait until you bring it out of storage next winter so you can start the season with fresh oil.
  • Store your plow indoors or on a pallet under a cover.

Routine Spreader Maintenancepreventive maintenance

Keep your spreaders in tip-top shape by following these tips:

Use compatible material. Make sure that you use the appropriate material for your auger-, chain-, or gravity-fed system. Hint: You can buy an alternate auger for some spreaders for use with fine materials like calcium chloride.

Put it away empty. Remove any material left in the spreader at the end of the day, and load it fresh right before you hit the road. Material can clump or freeze in frigid weather. That can give you serious issues with spreader operation.

Keep it clean. Power wash and dry your spreader after every use. Salt and deicing materials are corrosive and can damage your spreader. Hint: While you clean, inspect the spreader and tighten any loose fasteners. Make the small repairs before they become bigger issues.

Keep it lubricated. Grease all moving parts and electrical connectors/terminals as recommended by the manufacturer. This will prolong the life of the parts, and ultimately your spreader. Many manufacturers recommend that you lubricate bearings every 7 to 10 hours of operation.

Care for your controller. The controller should be stored indoors in a dry, cool place. Take it inside between uses in extreme temperatures.

Use the manual. Good spreader maintenance will vary based on spreader construction. Your owner’s manual is always your best resource to optimize spreader upkeep and settings.

Perform easy end-of-season maintenance. Before you store your spreader for the off-season, wash off any remaining material, grease the bearings, and lubricate the auger. You may also want to apply a light coat of mineral oil on stainless steel spreaders, and touch up paint on carbon steel spreaders. End-of-season maintenance will help your spreader perform when it’s time to get back to work, and ensure it will last for years to come.

For more plow and spreader tips, check out the Buyers Products Youtube channel. It’s regularly updated with new product videos, tips, tutorials, and more. Subscribe to receive notifications each time a new video goes live. 

This article was featured in the Snow & Ice Management Association’s SB In Focus issue focused on transitioning from a residential to commercial snow company. Read the whole issue, sponsored by Buyers Products, here.

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