1. are you going to keep it for a long time?
2. Will you trade or sell offen and upgrade to a new model?
3. What are your finces looking like a good SS will be upwards of $4,000 + to get started but will last for quite a while. If i was to want a good one i would go stainless and even electric with a smith less maintence and quiet operation ask Dino plowking35 he will tell you I think he has one.
The smith stainless with electric drive is baout 3500.00 US, and works great. In fact I jist serviced it today. There has been some ?? as to how much juice it draws, well when the switch is thrown, the volt gauge drops from 14-12, but as soon as that initial drop recovers, the volt gauge goes right back to 14, with little if any visible drop in power output from the alternator. So they draw very little power from the truck.
BTW, this is because it requires much more amps to start the motor, after it's started the amount of amps required decreases.
A plow pump motor draws many more amps because it is always starting for a few quick seconds. Thats why I wonder why they don't have a pump that always ran, like a belt driven pump with an electric motor. This setup would require a much smaller draw on the truck's electrical system.
I would highly recommend the SS spreader if you can swing the intial cost.
Obviously, there are things that you can do with a regular steel spreader that will lengthen its life. Like put it up on 4X4 pressure treated boards so that there is drainage under it. You must also wash and lubricate it after every storm.
You can also use Magic Salt as it is less corrosive than straight rock salt.
Now if you buy the SS spreader and follow the above maintenance suggestions the ss spreader will last quite awhile.