Snow Plow Maintenance - Springtime


Spring Has Sprung.......
Depending on where you live, Spring weather may be coming, or is already here. It's time to get your truck in shape for the warmer months. If the Winter months mean salt on the roads for deicing, a good place to start is the undercarriage. Use a garden hose, with a pistol grip type nozzle. The right angle shape helps make flushing out wheel wells easier. Flush and rinse every part you can. Be sure to flush the backs of your bumpers. I like to flush everything, then wait an hour or so, and hose it all down again, to remove any more that the water loosened. I spray Castrol Super Clean, or Simple Green on my wheels next. A toilet bowl brush works great on them, getting in around the lugs and center caps. I go further and scrub the sidewalls of my tires too. The Simple Green cleans them well too.
I then move up to the body. A good old fashioned hand wash. I use a soft long bristled brush on a handle. A deep 5 gallon bucket is best, because it allows dirt to settle to the bottom, limiting the chance that the brush will pick it up and scratch the paint. When rinsing the brush, I never let it touch the bottom of the bucket. Start on the roof of the truck, standing in the bed will make reaching easier. Take your bucket of suds with you, and the hose. Open the tailgate, and bring the hose in that way, you don't want to drape it over the bedside, or it WILL scratch the paint. Scrub the back window, and the roll bar and lights if you have them. If you have lights, remove the covers for cleaning. Next the windshield, the doors, the hood and grille, front bumper too. Always use a swirling motion, scrubbing down one section at a time, rinsing, then moving on to the next section. I then rinse the whole cab. If the water is dingy at this point, I pour it into the bed, flushing it. Mix up a new batch of suds, and wash one bedside, and the tailgate. Rinse. Wash the other side of the bed, and the rear bumper. Again I dump the suds in the bed, this time taking the brush and scrubbing it. I rinse the bed, and rear bumper. That's it for washing the exterior. Now I move to the inside.
There are two ways to clean out the cab. I have two very different uses for my trucks, and two ways of cleaning. My 77 K/20, which I highly value, I vacuum out. My 80 GMC K/25 plow truck, trailer pulling, Landscaping truck, I blow out occasionally, with my Echo gas engine back pack leaf blower. It works very well. Cleans out all the dust and then some! I actually blow out the 77 once a year with the back pack. It gets under the seat good. Both trucks get the same window cleanings. Both trucks get Armorall on the same surfaces. The 77, I clean the surfaces, then apply the Armorall. The 80, I just Armorall. The 77 has aluminum thresh hold trim, were you step in the truck. I polish these with Wenol. The 80's trim is black plastic, I do nothing to it. The 77, I take out the floor mats, hose them off, use Simple Green to clean, then put back in. The 80 GMC, I dump the dirt off the mats, and put them back in. When cleaning the door panels on my 77, I remove the arm rest pads for cleaning, and the door pockets. I apply Armorall to them after cleaning. I don't clean the door panels in my 80 GMC. I clean the carpet that's on the lower part of my 77's doors. My 80 has no carpet on the doors. I clean the gauge bezels on both trucks dash boards the same. I clean the steering wheel with a scrub brush the same on both trucks. I clean the rear view mirror, since I always forget when doing the windows. The 80's mirror I don't bother doing, since I really don't use it.
It has a mirror on each door I use. Those I remember to clean on both trucks. Now is a good time to empty the Winter items I've been carrying around. The ice scrapers, the gallon of window washer fluid, my hat and ski gloves, the spare snowplow parts, and hydraulic fluid. A few other things too.
Now it's time to open the hood. I like to start off with a Spring cleaning if my motor's been leaking anything. A good soaking with Castrol Super Clean, or Simple Green will do the trick. Let it soak in after spraying it down. Be sure to spray it down when the engine is cold. Read the bottle of cleaner you use. Keep it away from surfaces it will damage. Avoid spraying it into the air cleaner/ intake. Remove the battery cables, and clean the connections. Sprinkle Baking Soda on the battery, inner fender, and battery tray, to neutralize the acid. Let it sit on there. Rinse the engine gently. The cleaner removed the crud, the stream of water doesn't have to, just has to rinse. Keep the water away from the intake/ air cleaner, and the distributor cap. Rinse the battery, and battery tray, and inner fender area. Flush it good. Since the engine is cool, now is a great time to check the antifreeze level. If the antifreeze is rusty looking, now is a good time to change it, and flush the cooling system. If it's clean, just top it off, and be sure to check the level in the overflow jug. Start the engine, and let it reach operating temperature. It takes about 15 minutes. Let it cool a while, about a 1/2 hour. Now it's time to change the oil and filter. After putting the new filter on, and the drain plug back in, grease the front end, and the front driveshaft. Grease the rear driveshaft too. Use a high pressure EP waterproof wheel bearing grease. Chassis grease is not the best choice for the chassis, and NEVER USE IT ON U - JOINTS, OR BEARINGS. Waterproof EP is the way to go. Check the air filter element, if it's dirty, replace it. If you've been putting off doing a tune up, now's the time to do it. Check the other fluid levels, brake, power steering, windshield washer fluid, and automatic trans fluid. You might even want to crawl under, and check the gear oil level in your front and rear axles, along with the transfer case, and manual trans. Next, I oil all the hinges. I use 3-in-1 Oil. It's just a light "sewing machine" type oil. The hood hinges, the door hinges, the door locks, the hood latch, the receiver hitch lock, and the tailgate handle and stay bars. I remove the tailgate, and apply grease to the hinges, a light coating of grease on the tailgate latches too. Check the tire pressure. The change in the temperature between the seasons affects the pressure in them. Depending on how your tires are wearing, you may want to rotate them now. If it's been a lot of miles since they were balanced last, having them balanced now is another good idea. I've been told by many to check the lug nuts, to be sure they're tight. I've never found a loose lug (knocking on wood:::) myself. For safety sake it won't hurt to check them. Now that your truck is nice and clean, you should take a good look at the underside. Visually inspect the trans, and transfer case for leaks. Check the exhaust system, is it badly rusted? How are your mufflers? Are your axles leaking at all? No, no, no? Good. Anything bent or damaged? Check the front end, is the steering stabilizer ok? I found mine bent last year. The steering had been a little harder than normal. After a day or two, I crawled under the front. The rod was bent on the stabilizer. I recall hitting nothing. I plowed snow all Winter long. It is a stabilizer mounted in the stock position, not sticking down below the centerlink like the dual aftermarket set ups. The one that bent was a replacement cartridge from Heckethorn Big Yellow. Now I have a Monroe, only because it's what the auto parts store had right there. It's been on for a year, and is still in one piece. If you have manual locking hubs on your front axle, and it's been a while since you cleaned and greased your hubs, now is he time. Especially if you had a wet snowy, slushy winter. If you crossed deep water numerous times during the Winter and early weeks of Spring, they need to be cleaned and greased NOW. A light coating of EP Waterproof Bearing grease is all the parts need. Don't pack globs of grease in there. The "more is better" mentality doesn't work here. In fact, too much grease will cause hubs to malfunction, or so my Superwinch owners sheet says. I'd like to add, the GMC only lacks cosmetic attention. It is maintained mechanically as well as all my machines. The engine in the GMC has less than 4,000 miles on it, and it replaced one that had 134,000 miles on it. The auto trans has only 1,300 miles on it, it replaced one that lasted only 3 years with plowing. If your auto trans equipped truck plowed snow this past Winter, more than 4 times, GET YOUR TRANS SERVICED TODAY! Trust me!! Disregard the owners manual recommendations, and get the fluid and filter changed. If you have a manual trans, it's even easier to service. Change your fluid now too!
You're ready for Summer now. Remember, now is the best time to paint your plow!

Now is also a good time to change the hydraulic fluid in your plow pump. Storing the pump with dirty water contaminated fluid will lead to more problem in the fall when you don't have time to worry about them!

Changing Hydraulic Fluid

Rhomar Industries sells a salt neutralizer wash that works great on trucks, spreaders and plows.

 

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