Friday, September 30, 2011

ATV Snow Plow Recommendations

It's time.  Winter is coming--and the time to buy a snow plow is before the snow starts to fall.  Way before.

I know nothing about ATVs, and next to nothing about snow plows.  Educate me in the comments.  I would hope to buy a used ATV and snow plow.  I am not going to be using it for much else--no high speed thrill seeking, no adventures in the forest, no loading it up with hunting dogs (is there such a thing as a hunting cat?) and disappearing into the forest.


  1. A used ATV is likely to have been treated like a motorcycle: you'll be lucky if the oil's been changed every other year. Be careful, and drive it before you buy. Look over the engine carefully.

    You'll want fuel injection, so don't get something too old or you'll be out there fiddling with the choke and waiting for things to warm up while you freeze. Worst case you might need to swap carbs between the winter and summer months and that's not fun.

    If you go higher end on the ATV some of them will have electrical outlets that you can plug your snowmobile clothing into to keep you snug and warm while you plow. But those are the expensive ATVs.

    A built-in, factory winch almost always beats an add-on in terms of stability and length of service, especially for the controls. And you'll be using the winch to take the blade up and down. Or to pull your ATV out of a snow bank when you got in too far over your head (not that that's ever happened to me, you understand - *cough*).

    The plow blades are pretty cheap (less than $400 for a 60", or about a third the price of the cheapest truck blades) and I've never seen an ATV without a mount. In general to attach them is a couple of bolts to the frame and one to the winch. Putting one on is generally about a 3 minute task.

    From your description of your driveway and winter I'd look for something at least 500cc to handle the big dumps. Most of the newer units in that size have automatic transmissions to make your life easier.

    It's unlikely you'll not wind up using this year round. At the very least if your wife's like mine you'll get the cart for dragging landscaping supplies and yard waste around. We use ours to jockey around trailers, the boat, etc. It's far easier than hitching up the truck for moving most things around the yard.

  2. It might be cheaper to buy an old tractor with a blade.
    ATV's are kinda spendy, especially ones that can push a blade full of snow.

  3. What I would do is go for a drive around the area and see what the locals are using and go from there.
    Go the the local ATV dealers and see what they have in used machines.
    Question the mechanics at the dealers as to what they would use.
    To many variables from where I sit to give you a answer that would be correct.

  4. mr cramer;

    I live in new england, and have for the last few years used an ariens snowblower on my 900'+ driveway, when the guy with a pickup and plow who used to plow it retired.

    I don't recall if you've specified the length of your driveway, but a well engineered snowblower can do the same amount of work a plow can, -without- the problems inherent in trying to pile snow with something that's too small, such as an ATV might be. this especially applies at the road/driveway interface.


  5. I'll agree with blogidaho, above: a medium brand-name diesel tractor will probably turn out to be more useful in the long run. Some years back I had a 4WD mid-size Kubota, sized right between what they're now selling as the B-Series and L-Series, and there was no shortage of standard implements for it - standard PTO drive and 3-point hitch so everyone's implements (blades, post hole diggers, mowers, tillers, etc.) fit and worked; had to use Kubota's front end loader, though.

    A rear drag blade worked well for up to about 12" of snow, the front bucket worked when we got more than that. And, with a "regular" tractor when you have a "one-off job" (such as tilling a large garden) you'll be able to rent the implement. FYI, get a small trailer for hauling the implements you rent - you can lift them on/off the trailer with the front end loader.

    TIP: for snow you want 4WD, and get the tires filled (it's a water/antifreeze solution that adds several hundred pounds to the rear tires - invaluable for traction). And, in the snow belt, get chains for all 4 wheels. You won't need them much, but when you do you'll really need them.

    I think you'll find that ATVs are toys that can be made to do work, and tractors are tools designed to do work.

  6. The folks saying tractor are right if you want to move snow.

  7. Can't you just hire the neighbor's boy to come do your driveway too?

  8. Clayton,

    I live north and west of you in bigger snow. I tried the ATV route and if you have a good one (Polaris 750 with Polaris' proprietary snow plow system) you can make it work. This is true especially if you are doing just a short driveway. I was doing a 1 mile lane and all of my property, and it got to be too much for the ATV method. I bought a Kubota enclosed cab diesel tractor with front snowplow and rear snow blower. Works great and Kubota is rock solid for the genre.

  9. Mollo:

    1. Neighbor's boy? There is no one in our subdivision who has children. They are either much older than us, or a couple with no kids yet.

    2. Our driveway is 600 feet long, and with a substantial slope.

  10. I live in NY along the hudson river. We don't get snow like when I was growing up in buffalo, but we do get some. I have a 250cc 4WD quad with a plow, no chains. It does the snow well, but I think that if we got more snow (like Buffalo does) I would go with the tractor, or atleast a walk behind snow thrower. I've got a 120' driveway. I've used it for three winters.

  11. Given the slope, snow and length of your driveway I recommend you put of retiring from one of your 3 jobs a few months and look at something like this Kubota.

  12. "Our driveway is 600 feet long, and with a substantial slope."

    Even with chains and fwd, you will not be plowing any significant snowfall uphill on an atv. Weight is a component of traction, and atv's are relatively light.

    You could still make it work if you plan your removal by plowing downhill, but it still becomes tedious.

    Another issue you will encounter is that as the snow season progresses, the berms from previous snowfalls will become larger and harder; you will not move them with an atv. Eventually your cleared area will shrink.

    Go to There is a snow removal sub-forum. If you go that route you will eventually wonder how you lived without a tractor.

  13. Thanks for sharing. I would love to get a snow plowing mount from Sterling KY for my truck. I live up a very steep and windy road. The snow in the winter is a nightmare. I should really get one of these.