Ideas, Tried and True
Personal snow plows are
great for doing your own driveway if they are set up and used
correctly. They typically require mounting a 2" trailer hitch on the
front of the vehicle. Custom kits can be purchased for many types of
SUVs and trucks. Since most SUVs these days utilize body frames,
mounting the kits steel trailer brace can be a challenge. It may be
difficult to find a garage that will do the installation. Although
U-Haul garages will gladly install a rear trailer hitch on your
vehicle, I couldn't find one that would install a front trailer hitch.
And even if you do, they might not guarantee use of the trailer hitch
with a personal plow. The front trailer hitch may not be designed to
handle the vertical load that the plow places on the hitch. That is
where this fix comes in. The straps increase the vertical load
capacity, the allowable tongue weight, of the hitch. I've been using
this setup for years without problems.
The first design challenge I faced
was where to attach the strap on my Ford Escape. The SUVs frame around
the top of the radiator is not not strong enough to handle the 100 to
300 pounds of force the plow would exert on it. That estimated design
weight range is based on the weight of the plow and the bouncing of the
plow as the SUV is driven along rough roads.
The cabin supports are
actually very strong. They have to support the roof in case the SUV
turns over in an accident. I used heavy duty heavy duty truckers
tie-down strap I bought from Home Depot. The doors close easily on them
and the straps have not harmed the door seals at all over all these
The truckers tie-down
strap came with hooks and strap-tightening winch. I attached some
good-size eye bolts onto the frame of the snow plow and cranked the
winch so that the there was good tension in the strap, and the plow
weight was supported by the strap instead of the front-end hitch. I do
this with the front doors open in the SUV so that the doors don't hold
the strap and so that the sliding strap does not harm the door seals.
The strap places a minimal
load on the raised part of the dash, but it can handle it.
The strap does place a load on the engine
hood cover, but the load is distribute across the front framing, so it
can handle it. The hood is pushed down onto the rubber mounts that
support the front end of the hood, but the squished mounts are
resilient and return back to their original shape. Another minor
concern is the strap might scratch the body paint. I haven't noticed
any significant scratching yet from the wide strap. I know I may look a
little bit like a hillbilly redneck driving down the road with this
strap, but this fix works really well, and snow plows are designed to
work, not to look pretty. Besides who is going to see you in one of
Maine's snow storms?