How Wide Should a Snowplow Be? How To Decide


You’ve decided that this is the year to quit shoveling snow and buy a snowplow for your ATV, UTV, or pickup. But with the range of sizes and types of plows, choosing a snowplow can be overwhelming. For example, how wide should the snowplow be? 

The width of a snowplow is determined by the width of an ATV or UTV and its engine size. The rule of thumb is the snowplow should be 6” (15.24 cm) wider than the ATV, and the minimum engine size is 450 cc. For a truck, the snowplow’s width is secondary to how much weight it adds to the front axle.  

This guide will explain the factors that make choosing the correct width is important. Afterward, you can decide what would be best for your vehicle.

How To Decide the Width of an ATV or UTV Snowplow

To decide how wide your ATV or UTV snowplow should be, you should consider your vehicle’s weight, engine displacement, and dimensions. A plow that is too heavy will cause performance issues and cause frustration.

Weight

The weight of your ATV/UTV is far more essential in terms of its snow-moving ability. 

  • A lighter snowplow will give you more traction. Greater weight allows the tires to get a firmer grip on the ground, and a better grip means that your vehicle can push more snow. 
  • The greater weight of the larger ATVs also aids in keeping the bike stable. It will take a lot more force to knock it to one side or the other. 
  • A small 250cc machine might have enough power to push the plow, but it would have difficulty plowing because it doesn’t have enough weight to get good traction.

This is one reason why bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to snowplows.

Engine Displacement

An ATV with at least 400cc will have adequate speed and acceleration for plowing. A smaller ATV could manage to push the snowplow, but it would not have sufficient horsepower to push the plow and snow.

The ATVs and UTVs in the 700-800cc class push more snow, but additional power beyond that is useful for other activities besides moving snow.  

Vehicle Dimensions

The width of snowplows is measured in inches, and this width typically ranges from 48” to 72” (121.92-182.88 cm). The general rule of thumb is that the snowplow blade should be 6” (15.24 cm) wider than your vehicle to allow the snow to clear the tires.

Quads under 450cc won’t have enough power to push the snow of a 54” (137.16 cm) or 60” blade (152.4 cm), so a 50” (127 cm) or smaller blade is recommended. ATVs in the 450cc to 750cc range can handle a 54-inch (137.16 cm) plow, and a 750cc and higher ATV can handle a 60” (152.4 cm) plow.

Finally, consider what you will be plowing. For example, a sidewalk is typically 60” or 66” (152.4 cm to 167.64 cm) wide, and a standard driveway has a width of 120” (304.8 cm).

How To Decide the Width of a Snowplow for a Truck

You can’t decide the width of a snowplow for your truck until you know the plow’s weight and whether your truck can handle it. That information, plus the general guidelines for width, will guide your decision.

Know Your Truck’s Front Axle Weight Rating

It’s crucial to know the FGAWR, or Front Gross Axle Weight Rating, of your truck before you attach a plow. The FGAWR is the maximum weight your truck can handle on the front axle. 

You shouldn’t attach a plow to your vehicle that exceeds this limit. 

If you want to know your vehicle’s gross axle weight rating, look for it on a label within the door frame, usually where the driver’s door latches. Another option is to do an Internet search for the information. 

Most manufacturers will make this and other critical vehicle information available online.

The Plow’s Weight

A plow’s weight is determined by its dimensions and the materials used to construct it. This includes whether the plow is made from steel or poly, and the metal’s height, cutting edge, and thickness.

For example, a Meyer 7.5 with a 12-gauge blade weighs 729 lbs (330.67 kg) or around 35 lbs (15.88 kg) more than an identically sized Western 11-gauge. Increase the moldboard height, and the plow gets heavier still. 

For example, the same Meyer plow with a moldboard height of 32” (81.28 cm) weighs 773 lbs (350.63 kg).

Snowplows also needed to be mounted, so you must include the weight of the mounts, which can vary anywhere from 28 lbs to 145 lbs (12.70-65.77 kg).

Recommended Truck Widths

The width of plows for light pickup vehicles starts at 6 ½’ (198.12 cm) wide and goes up to 9’ and 10’ wide (274.32-304.8 cm) for larger trucks.

  • Most ordinary pickup trucks are best suited to 6 ½’ and 7 ½’  (198.12-228.6 cm) plows.
  • Half-ton vehicles use 7’ or 7 ½’ (213.36-228.6 cm) blades.
  • 3/4- and 1-ton trucks use 7 ½’ and 8’ (228.6-243.84 cm) blades. 

The broader the plow blade the truck can handle, the higher its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). A plow that overloads the front of a vehicle can strain the front axle and suspension and reduce braking efficiency.

Companies are making it easier to match plows with vehicles. Western Plows, for example, has a “Find the Plow” calculator. Although this is an excellent tool, you can use it only if you plan to buy a Western Plow.

When in Doubt, Ask a Dealer

If you are in doubt about what size snowplow to buy, you should find a trustworthy dealer in the area.

Buying your snowplow will be the first but not the last interaction with the dealer. You might need additional help with installation and setup, so you should find out if these services are included in the price or if you’ll have to pay extra.

It’s a good idea to stay in touch with the dealer, as you will need parts, repairs, or additional help with your snowplow at some point. When that moment comes, you want to be able to call on your dealer.

Why Do You Plan To Plow?

A ½-ton (453.59 kg) truck is adequate for a homeowner to clear driveways, help neighbors, and tackle a small side road. However, if you plan to operate a small commercial business, a 3/4-ton (680.39 kg) truck is typically recommended.

Bottom Line

Although the width of your vehicle is an important consideration, weight plays a more significant role than you might think. You might want to buy a wider plow thinking it will remove more snow, but if the plow is too heavy, you won’t be pushing more snow but less.

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