If your pickup has to do snowplow duty, either of the GM full-size pickups may be the best truck for the job. At least, that's what we'd expect Chevy or GMC sales reps will tell you, and they may have a point.
You can hook up a snowplow blade to just about anything with a strong front end — we've even seen a few mounted on small Jeeps and Suzukis — but, as you might expect, there are many important details to consider when choosing the right snowplow blade and the right workhorse vehicle for your plow.
"For plow operators, our torsion bar independent front suspension is a major differentiator," said Chris Bither, GMC Sierra ride and handling engineer. "Our competitors' beam axles can't match it for traction on uneven surfaces and axle hop reduction." We would expect him to say nothing less, but we're well aware that many consider solid front axles and coil springs to be plenty strong enough if they're matched properly.
With that said, all four-wheel-drive GM HDs are available with a specifically-designed optional plow prep package — which includes a 10-amp power for backup and roof emergency lights, heavy-duty 160-amp alternator (or dual 125-amp units for diesel models), high-flow front bumper, forward wiring harness, trailer brake wiring harness, skid plate and a high capacity air cleaner with auxiliary transmission oil cooler — all covered under GMC’s standard warranty. Also, the torsion bars can be adjusted with a single wrench to provide proper wheel alignment and ride height when the weight of a plow — as much as 1,000 pounds or more in some cases — is added to the front of the vehicle.
By contrast, a prep package for the Ford Super Duty offers an upgraded alternator and heavy duty springs, and it does offer a live front axle on 4x4 models. The Ram’s package includes a 180-amp alternator and skid plates, and it also has a solid axle. Of course, all three manufacturers offer a choice between a stout turbo-diesel and powerful gas engine.
If you've determined you don't need a three-quarter-ton or 1-ton truck, GM offers the only plow prep package for light-duty pickups. We should note each of the half-ton truck makers does offer less plow-specific packages that offer some upgraded protections that would also work well under high-stress conditions.
Here are some quick tips to consider if a snowplow is in your truck's future:
- First, be very specific about considering your snow-pushing needs. The more snow, the heavier-duty truck that’s required. While Ford does not recommend the 2012 F-150 for snow plowing, a GM half-ton can be used for smaller driveways and streets.
- When thinking about capacity, consider the type of plow you’ll use. Driveways are best done with a small, straight blade. The initial cost for larger V-type plows is higher, but time is money, and for larger jobs with larger trucks, V-plows significantly reduce work time.
- Plow truck buyers must also consider the right optional equipment. All-terrain tires will add grip, and a locking rear differential can be a big help in slippery situations. Of course, any kind of plow prep package is a must. We'd also recommend heated seats.
For more info and advice, check out our past plow coverage.