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4x4 Fact or Myth?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by mylittlescoop, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. mylittlescoop

    mylittlescoop Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 101

    Is it mandatory to have a 4x4 for a heavy truck? Given the trucks weight I am wondering if it would work without 4x4...A lot of people think that you need a 4x4 to plow but given the weight it should be heavy enough to use without
    3/4 ton Chevy Suburban, no 4x4 seems to be very heavy but I do not want to make the wrong move so I am getting some advice from pros....
  2. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    My opinion is that with that truck you should have 4X4. It's not so much the weight as it is the distribution of said weight.

    Say your Burban weighs in at 7,ooo pounds. Of that 7,000 pounds, 3/5 of that weight (3,500#'s) is on the front wheels. That leaves 3,000#'s on the rear. When you add the weight of the plow (700#'s) to the front and hang it 5 feet in front of the axle you are now weighing in the front axle around 5,000#'s and as a direct result taking weight off the rear axle making it about 2,100#'s. Sure, you can add weight to the rear but you will have a hard time weighing the rear down enough to do any real plowing. Especially if the snow is wet and there is a bit of ice on the ground.

    Now, before anyone picks this post apart, let me say that these numbers are only for demonstration purposes. They are not actual numbers. And I am not saying you CAN'T plow with a 2WD Burban. I'm just saying it's not practical. I'm sure someone will chime in and say you can do it without any problems. You will just have to add 1,000#'s to the back end for balast and slap on some tall skinny tires with great traction.
  3. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,196

    I have 2 3500 GMC's. They are both 2wd and both plow. They have salters on the back and we have them atleast 2/3 full. Even though we plow with them we make sure that they are not in tight spaces. They aren't the best for back-dragging but in a good size plaza they work great. I also put them in open areas because backing up you have to use your mirrors as the salter covers the back window. If I was plowing driveways or small commercial and this is your only truck then 4x4 would be a must.
  4. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I most definately agree with Plow Meister. I use both a 1/2 ton and a one ton which has a 2 yd sander for ballast. Both are 4wd. I do plow with the one ton often using only 2wd and 1/3 load of sand. But, with hills, ice or even packed & wet snow, 4wd is usually needed. The main problem will be that when you figure out that you're in a situation requiring 4wd, it's too late. You won't be able to get out without help.

    Like Plow Meister said, it's not the weight so much, but the distribution of that weight that counts.
  5. GPB

    GPB Member
    Messages: 55

    Ive had a couple of 2 wheel drive trucks and both would get stuck in wet grass. IMHO, your asking for trouble plowing with a 2 wheel drive suburban.
    You need a 4x4
  6. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    As always, I think it depends on YOUR situation. For me, 4x4 is a must. A few of the residentials I have are on pretty steep inclines w/ a few bends. I have to stare from the bottom and go up. So I need maximum traction when breaking into the driveway to continue up...just don't think it would work w/ 2WD IMO.

    However, I could see using 2WD in a flat parking lot. It would work...but then when it comes time to do the loading dock (again angled)...humnnn

    Again, as everyone else has hinted to it all depends on your situation. And if you have 4WD you can go to 2WD, when you have RWD it isn't like you can just switch to 4WD to get you out...
  7. Turfmower

    Turfmower Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    I don't think he said he is plowing with the truck. If I didn't plow, I wouldn't get 4x4. Here in New Jersey it only takes them 2 to 3 hours max to clear all roads after a storm. If you dont have to go off road or plow snow 4x4 is a waste of money IMO
  8. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Turfmower, yes SHE is planning to plow with this truck... "A lot of people think that you need a 4x4 to plow but ..."
  9. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    Personally, I would NOT feel comfortable plowing with a 2WD 3/4 Ton. There are just too many variables, you can get stuck on small inclines in 4" of snow with only 2WD. What about the times you need to drive over a snowbank left by state/town plows? You can only load the suburban up so much with weight as others alredy said. I doubt you would be able to have enough ballast to make it practical. The BIG trucks that plow the state highways are 2WD mostly, they are the ones that have enough weight to go without 4X4.
  10. mylittlescoop

    mylittlescoop Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 101

    Got It

    Thanks Mick! LOL That was cute LOL
    I think I am going to keep searching 4x4 seems its my best option. I do not want ANY more repeats of mistakes nor do I want to make ANY NEW ONES! I keep making bad moves so I am doing this right this time..LMAO It probably is possible to plow with no 4x4 BUT I think I heard enough and wont chance it.
    I seen a really good deal but the truck was not 4 wheel drive. In the past year I bought 4 trucks each one I thought was a good deal if I put them all together I dont even have 1 whole one LOL every one of them has got a problem...Hahahah now I learned when in doubt just ask....
    came in handy! Thanks guys, and thanks Mick lol
  11. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    Not sure what towns you are speaking of but that is a very broad statement about jersey having ALL roads cleared within 2-3hrs after the storm. Drive around some of your larger towns like Piscataway or some of the Brunswicks...
  12. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    Remember something that is also very important to most people- resale value. A 2wd 3500/350 is worth almost nothing in New England for resale, even only 2 years old. If you want to sell it in a couple of years buy the 4x4 and just don't use it.
    you can plow a 2wd, your just better off to have 4x4 in case you need it- I plow my 4x4's in 2wd most of the time only engaging the front end when I start slipping. If you get a big truck, and by big I mean Kodiak, IH, Mack, F650, GMC7000 size like the city and state uses you don't need 4x4 but you'll often need chains. Very few of the city or state trucks are 4x4's.
  13. salt shaker

    salt shaker Member
    Messages: 65

    The truth about 4x4

    4-wheel drive only gets you 30 ft. further into a place, you should not have been in the first place. :rolleyes: lol...
  14. Remsen1

    Remsen1 Senior Member
    Messages: 188

    Don't even think about it! I have had plenty of experience with 2wd in trucks and vans. If you have excellent studded snow tires you can get around (without too much trouble) , but your not going to push any heavy snow. Not to mention push it up an incline. Forget about pushing downhill too cause when you get to the end of your push you will NOT be able to back away from the snow bank.

    if your tires are maginal you might not even be able to move that truck half the time, let alone push snow.

    I don't have any experience with parking lots but maybe you could do a little there as long as you keep your momentum up.
  15. demetrios007

    demetrios007 Member
    Messages: 79

    I'm not sure what your budget is, but if you've bought four trucks and they all had problems maybe you should invest into something newer. You can walk out the door with a new plow truck for 25K, maybe less with a leftover 04, and lease or make payments. One snow will pay for months of payments, or even make it your daily driver instead of a second vehicle. I made the plunge into new and spent an extra 1200 on a 7yr/100k warranty with snowplowing included into the abuse equation, I have nothing to worry about for a while, and I also have a great dealer which helps the most really. Any used older truck you get is gonna have its issues, plow trucks take the most abuse of any work vehicle really, especially trannies/clutches. I was making repairs constantly that were close to or more than new payments on older trucks, after a while it makes no sense, not to mention having a truck down during an event, then your REALLY screwed, some dealers will loan you a lot truck with a plow if yours breaks down. If your definitely going used, get a freind pay a mechanic or maybe buy lunch/dinner to a decent mechanic to take it for a ride and a lookover for you, a second opinion is helpful in any situation really. Your much better off finding a non-plowed truck and putting a mount and plow on it, hard to find a plowtruck not abused or just tired from the work we do.........
  16. uglytruk

    uglytruk Member
    Messages: 74

    As an example of how even a heavy 2wd drive truck is next to useless... I wa s plowing my parking lot with my 1/2t Chevy (83), and I ran over the edge of the parking lot curbing :eek: . So I got my '77 extra long wheelbase GMC dump truck with 5 tons of very frozen gravel in the bed. We had 3 inches of wettish snow, slight slope downhill, and big extra chunky snow tires on the dump. There was now way I could get my 1/2ton over the triangular curbing until I put lots of salt under dump's snow tires. Don't forget I had 10,000 lbs. of ballast! Maybe 20k would've done it. Wish I had a picture :cool:
  17. IndySnowPlow

    IndySnowPlow Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 214

    We have a 2wd 1ton with an 8.5'V and a salt box....I only plow with it when I know we will only go straight,,,,once you have to encounter obstacles, backing etc. then your just asking to get stuck. Those of you with 4x4..try plowing in 2wd the next time.....4x4's even get stuck sometimes.
  18. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    Having had the four wheel drive go out in my 3/4 ton suburban during a 4 inch heavy wet snow I can tell you personally that a 2 wheel drive suburban with a plow hanging off the front of it is about as useful as an aluminum snow shovel at a coal mine cave in :eek:
  19. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    That about sums it up.
  20. uglytruk

    uglytruk Member
    Messages: 74

    Sorry to post fulltime 4x4 blurb twice, but MICROSOFT told me I lost submission due to error. But it appeared anyways.
    Moving right along, http://www.milemarker.com, (look for 4x2 conversion), makes a kit for '73-'79 GM's to disengage the front driveshaft when installing manual hubs. Otherwise your front axles and ring & pinion are always spinning, even with hubs disengaged. Sorta' like '80's S10's, one front axle is always spinning, beating the s*** out of the spider gears :eek:
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2005