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How many years should you plow with your truck?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by AB Lawn Care, Feb 2, 2000.

  1. AB Lawn Care

    AB Lawn Care Member
    Messages: 93

    I i'm going to be buying a plow truck down the road some time from now and I am wondering how many years do you suggest I plow with a truck before I sell it.The truck I will be buying will be about 1990'ish becouse it will be our first plow truck and right now we don't have the money to buy a late model or new truck.Any suggestions?<br>Thanks!<p>from:Adam<br>AB Lawn Care <p>
  2. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299

    Adam,<p> The year of the truck is not as important as the mechanical condition. I use an old (83) Ford that I rebuilt myself. I have kept this truck because the parts are cheap and I can repair anything on it. Of course not everyone has this option.<p>Do research on the trucks you are considering buying. Find out their weak points..i.e. GMC ball joints, Dodge trannys, Ford auto hubs etc..The newer the truck hopefully the less repairs needed, but not always. Can you do any repairs youself or with friends help? The worst possibility is breakin down during a BIG storm on your NEW accounts. I'm sure everyone on this forum keeps their trucks in good mech condition...they don't make $$$$ when they are broken. <br>Even new trucks break down....the warranty will cover it but, you still have the downtime during the storm.<p>Find a truck in your price range that is in GOOD mechanical condition, the brand is not important...everyone has their favorite. Make sure the drivetrain, suspension, brakes, and charging system are Ok. Fix the other little things later.<p>Dave
  3. jayman

    jayman Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    alright AB, I'm hanging around this site b/c I have brain fog from being up all night scouting and dispatching here in London . . . after 14 years in grounds maintenance business, I can say you can't afford a used truck! They are way more expensive than new! that's right, they're cheaper if all you count is the intial cost, but if you add up all true costs and benefits, and count the grief of an older truck, tons of lost business b/c of unhappy clients, poor performance, complete unreliability (remember, even the smallest problems like alternator and ww motor wiping out will STOP you from finishing your plow run for at least 3 hrs.!!), then used costs WAY more. Do you want to be a pseudo-mechanic or a professional grounds maintenance person? Then leave the constant mechanical tweaking and fiddling to qualified mechanics, and focus on your profession. A new truck has easy financing, and is almost as liquid as cash, so if times are tough and plowing does not work out, sell it! Want to be a pro and learn from pros, join SIMA and Landscape Ontario.
  4. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    If you are going after larger commercial (dollar-wise) accounts Id go new, actually my truck which I bought new is now five years old and I think its time to replace it. Only 52k but starting to show the effects of plowing, mostly rust-related problems due to being out when the salt is still on the roads. Next time, Ill lease a plow truck for a 3 year lease. One break down that sidelines you for a storm and your accounts are history. Whatever you do to lower the chances will help you survive financially.<p>Bill
  5. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Buy a new truck, it's even more important to buy a new one if it's your only one. Yes i just bought a used truck the first one in about 10 years. That truck has a small plow route, and is a back up truck. Other than that it doesn't leave the yard. That 93 F 250 HD is on chuck's web page. All my other trucks are 95 or newer, i keep a truck about 6 years and trade it in. Thats my advice.<p>Geoff
  6. Woodman

    Woodman PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 14

    Unlike most participants, my livelihood is not snow removal, but I wanted to put in my &quot;2 cents&quot; since I have an older truck ('84 F250 w/ 8' Fisher). I only plow the driveway to get to work.<p>Older trucks are somewhat easier to repair and parts are a bit cheaper, if you are mechanically (& electrically) inclined. If you are able to find a truck a few years old from a reputable seller who has focused on PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE, then its worth considering, but otherwise I'd be inclined to avoid a used truck for professional purposes.<p>Definitely focus on PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE when you purchase whether the truck is new or used. If you've gone thru Chuck's site you've got a good idea of what's NECESSARY for plowing in addition to scheduled maintenance on the truck.<p>The only other point I'll make is about reliability - if you are starting in the snow plowing profession, I would strongly urge you to make arrangements with other professionals (either a &quot;buddy system&quot; or a subcontractor on call, 2nd truck in the shop, Chuck's brother?, etc). <p>Even with a new truck, stuff happens:<p> You're plowing poorly marked driveway at night, 1st heavy snow, you're off the driveway and stuck then what?<p> A two dollar hydraulic fitting cracks, yeah you can fix it, if you remembered to bring an easy-out in the truck because it cracked at the surface of hydraulic cylinder and you can't get those vise grips on it and Chuck's list didn't have easy-outs:&gt;)....<p> A fuel pump dies when you're in front of your customer's garage door (or his loading dock)? <p>The list goes on ... if you're in it for long term, the reliability is key, through good equipment (new or used), and solid relationships with other pros as needed (and plow dealership for that matter) to help you out when the unexpected happens - AND IT WILL HAPPEN.<p>Keep plowin' - you guys earn your $$$.<p>Woodman <br>
  7. AB Lawn Care

    AB Lawn Care Member
    Messages: 93

    We would only be using the plow truck for residential driveways.If that is the case would any of you change your statements?When using a truck for driveways only,does this reduce the wear and tear comapared to useing it for commercial use?<p>from:Adam<br>AB Lawn Care
  8. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I think plowing driveways is harder on a truck then plowing lots. When you plow a driveway often times you are in tight areas, short runs. So you shift more, break more and hit piles harder to stack higher, it is harder to bring a loader to residental than commercial. At commercial you have long runs, most of the time open areas, and you can always use a loader to stack higher. I found my private road truck had the least wear and tear. It always went one direction forward and never hit many piles.<p>Geoff
  9. crew

    crew Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    IF you can afford new,do it.Ibought equipment and accounts.This my first year plowwing.I thought i was dilligent in my inspection of both trucks (f-250's)before i purchased.i have been spending 1000.00 a month on repairs and would be doing alot better if the @$#@ing trucks were not killing me.trans rebuild,2 new alts,power steering pumps,brakes ,etc.These trucks take a beating and from my rookie point of view,its somewhat amazing they hold up as well as they do. But MAN what i would do for some warranties.
  10. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299

    Adam,<p>I would have to agree with Woodman and others on buying a NEW truck. If my main income over the winter months was from snow removal I would be using primarily new trucks. Maybe a used backup like Geoff said.<p>Since this is not my case I get by with a used vehicle which requires more maintenance. I have had brake/alt problems this season...but luckily before the snow came down. And fixed them quick...<p>Of course this all depends on YOUR budget. How much $$$ can you take in on a normal storm....enough to warrant a new truck? Myself the answere is no....although I still plan on buying a new one down the road. <p>If you have the accounts/or budget to buy a new truck I think you are better off. If you are starting out building up the biz and can't afford the new vehicle buy the best you can with your $$$$. I would probably stay AWAY from a used plow truck unless you know it's history....Just my 10 cents <p><br>Dave<br>
  11. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Adam,<p>I haven't been on the forum for a while (with the server down and a new baby with colic at home) so I'm a little late with my reply.<p>This is not an easy question. For us, our philosophy has been to buy quality used trucks and brand new mowing equipment and plows. We're not pros at automotive repair by a long shot, but we've got a trusted mechanic who gives us priority treatment since we're his best customers. We bring him 3 work trucks plus two personal vehicles and recommend friends and relatives to him as well. When we've got a problem he'll squeeze us in ASAP, especially during the snow season. We have enough lawn and snow properties to keep two trucks very busy, but the third truck can serve as a back-up. Kind of like a long-stop in little league. You don't &quot;need&quot; that extra fielder between 1st and 2nd but it's nice to have him there. <p>This way we're not stretched so thin that if one truck has to go in for repair, we're up the creek 'til it's fixed. <p>Anyhow for us, we spend less money in repair and maintenance than we would leasing new trucks and we're not affected as badly as some by downtime when one truck is in the shop. <p>Having said all that, if you're only going to be running one truck then I'd try to go new if possible. If not (leasing costs a fortune up here as you know) then make sure its rock-solid mechanically and that you've got a guy who'll fix it fast when the need arrives. Also, try to find a truck that hasn't plowed before - you never know how reckless the person was who plowed in it before you.<p>Good luck.<p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>
  12. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    I think that 5 years is about all you should try to get out of a truck that sees plowing commercially,unless you are a mechanic and know your truck well,or it's fleet maitained with a mechanic on at all times.The cost of labor and repairs will be more than a new truck,not to mention the headaches of downtime and lost accounts if you are crazy enough to run only one truck.Local shops get 60 an hour to fix trucks,dealers are at 67-70 and rising.Many shops have raised labor rates 5-10 bucks an hour this month due to high heating costs.I am a mechanic and run a 10 tear old GMC that is like new and this is it's first year plowing.A 16 year old S10,with a camaro 2.8Multi port FI engine swap that has plowed 3 years and a 4 year old Dodge/Cummins that has plowed 1 year.My first problem was this year the s10 trans went.I do alot of preventative maintance to them and plow as if there were an egg under my foot when I go and stop.My wife was helping me drives the S10 like it's a bulldozer and a loader all in one.All 4 are spinning when shes plowing.I think she did it in or maybe it was time.If I had to pay to have trans job done on an 84 S10 I would sell it for parts.I got estimates for haha,s 1400-1800 with no warranty 'cuz of plow.All parts+fluids for rebuild will be 125 bucks with new torque convertor.It is a lot of labor and worth the big bucks if you are not a pro.This way I know the job is done right and complete with all new parts.<p>----------<br>John D<br>
  13. jeffclc

    jeffclc Guest
    Messages: 0

    Just a word of caution to you guys with new trucks. Make sure that you have enough cash reserves to make your payments on the truck if it does not snow. The bank doesn't want to hear that you don't have the payment because it didn't snow. Then they will come and take their truck, and you will be in real trouble.
  14. Lazer

    Lazer Senior Member
    Messages: 399

    Make sure all your customers are on a fixed contract. You'll never have to talk to the bank again. You can make all your payments, and when you buy your next truck, you can pay cash.