What are the Different Types of Snow Plowing Equipment?

Lori Kilchermann

There are many types of snow plowing equipment used to clear away snow, from hand-held shovels and brooms to gasoline- and electric-powered snow plowing equipment for the homeowner, to huge mechanical giants for industrial uses. In many areas, trucks and machinery used for maintenance of roads and streets in the summer months are transformed into snow plowing equipment in winter months. Trucks equipped with plow blades, tractors with large snow blowers and huge earth-moving machines are all used as snow plowing equipment during the cold winter months.

Snow plows are used to clear roads to make them safer for driving.
Snow plows are used to clear roads to make them safer for driving.

One of the most common pieces of snow plowing equipment seen in many areas is the plow truck. Typically a large dump truck fitted with a giant snow blade on the front, these trucks often carry salt in the dump box. In especially heavy snow fall areas, this type of snow plowing equipment can be equipped with a giant V-shaped plow to effortlessly clear roads of big snow drifts. The V-plow is able to open up drifted roads in order for the trucks equipped with regular blades to finish clearing them.

Snow blowers may be used to plow snow.
Snow blowers may be used to plow snow.

In the heaviest snow-impacted areas, snow plowing equipment consists of another specially equipped vehicle. Giant snow blowing machines are affixed to old military trucks and even tracked vehicles. These machines are able to clear the areas of deep snow and drifts in which a regular truck could become stuck. Instead of just pushing the snow to the side of the road, these machines blow the snow a great distance away from the road. This aids in keeping the shoulder of the road clear as well as leaving room for future snow to be piled as the season progresses.

Railroads use large V-plows mounted on gondola cars as snow plowing equipment. A locomotive will push these specially equipped gondola cars and clear the rails of any large snow drifts. Railroads are not the only transportation industry to plow their own snow. Airports often use large earth moving machinery to plow and remove snow from runways and taxiways. Looking much like large square blades, the big loader tractors push the snow into piles.

Once piled, the snow plowing equipment sheds its blades and uses its buckets to load the snow into trucks to be removed from the area. Often, a salt and sand mix is spread by the snow plows to give added traction to slippery roads. The salt also aids in clearing ice from the roadways. In some areas, a liquid syrup derived from sugar beets is used in lieu of crystallized salt to remove ice from roadways.

Often, a salt and sand mix is spread by the snow plows to give added traction to slippery roads.
Often, a salt and sand mix is spread by the snow plows to give added traction to slippery roads.

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Discussion Comments


Where can I find used snow plows for sale? I know that they must be out there but I cannot ever recall seeing a listing online or in an auto trader magazine.

I have a very long winding driveway that can be pretty treacherous in the winter. I would like to own a plow to take care of my own drive and to offer my services to some of my neighbors.


A lot of guys buy snow plow equipment thinking that they can make some easy extra money in the winter time but that is far from guaranteed. Basically, if there is no snow, there is no work. I have known more than one guy that made a big up front investment to buy all the equipment and then found that it only snowed once or twice the whole season.


There has been a real boom in the snow plow industry lately. Much of this is fueled by landscapers offering their service for snow removal in the winter time. It used to be that you would have to have a plow truck but there are now a number of different blades and salt spreading devices that can be attached to a full sized truck.

This means that you have a truck when you need it and a plow when you need it. Most of these attachments are not adequate for plowing roads but they are great for driveways and parking lots.

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