Is a down pressure system right for your snow jobs? Snow Plow News reviews some snowplow down pressure systems on the market and details the pros and cons of each.
December 7, 2021 | Jeff Serafin
Comparing Boss D-Force®, SnowEx ScrapeMax®, and Sno-Way Down Pressure® Plows
There are a few plows on the market that allow a plow to apply downward pressure along the cutting edge of the plow. Let’s talk about why you would be interested in this feature and compare some of the products currently available.
With the down pressure products we reviewed, there is one clear winner in this race. If you are interested in the benefits of downward pressure, be sure to read the reviews.
Why Would I Want Downward Pressure on My Snow Plow Cutting Edge?
Downward Pressure Helps with Back-Dragging
If you have done much of any back-dragging, you know most of the plows on the market want to ride up on the snow while you are going backward. It is not rocket science. The blade is meant to hug the ground while pushing forward, but the curve of the blade for forward pushing makes the blade float like a cloud when going backward over heavy or even just deep snow.
You can get a special plow blade that includes a double cutting edge for back dragging, but those plows add a lot of unnecessary weight to your blade with no other advantage than they stick to the ground a little better than a regular blade when back-dragging. You also end up with two wear edges that need to be replaced at about the same time since they are both always touching pavement while plowing. If you didn’t notice, replacing twice the wear edges translates to a much higher ongoing maintenance cost. (Hint, you are often further ahead getting a Down Pressure® system than paying for wear edge replacement costs over the life of the plow.)
Unfortunately, that is not the only bad news about a back-dragging blade. Because of the double edge design, you have a cup between the two cutting edges…a cup that can fill up with snow. Once snow fills in the gap between the cutting edges, the back-dragging blade is a lot more likely to ride up on the snow giving you the same problem you had back-dragging with a regular blade. Not cool, right?
With any one of the downward pressure options, you have the exact same plow blade, but now you are applying 200psi or more to the surface of the cutting edge. That downward pressure means you never see the plow blade ride up on top of the snow while back-dragging.
Downward Pressure Digs Deeper into Hard Packed Snow
If you have ever tried to remove snow that is packed down, you know the blade has a harder time cutting down to the pavement with packed snow than cutting through a bunch of virgin powder. With the extra pressure on the cutting edge using a downward pressure feature, the blade does a lot better job digging down to the pavement in every situation.
I have to admit, there is something satisfying after plowing a stretch someone else already tried to plow where I was able to dig deep into that hard pack removing a lot of it in one pass. No waiting for salt to cut through the hard pack to later come back and plow a second time when your plow blade kisses pavement over the entire lot the first time around. That is the power of downward pressure on your blade.
Weight Distribution with Downward Pressure
If you have ever been plowing and you find your spreader is now about empty, you know your rear end has a harder time gripping the pavement. Without the ballast of all that salt, there is an inadequate weight on your rear tires for good traction. Your backend slips and slides and you have a harder time getting your truck to power through the snow. Here is where the downward pressure on your blade can come to the rescue.
When you apply downward pressure on your blade, you change the weight distribution on your tires. You actually take some of the weight off of your front tires and move it to your back tires which means you have more power and control because your rear tires can grip the pavement really well again.
Downward Pressure Saves Time, Salt, and MONEY!
Downward pressure on your blade ultimately saves you time. Depending on the manufacturer, it could take you up to 30% less time to clear a lot. Think about a 30% savings…you could clear about 3 lots in the time it would otherwise take you to clear 2 lots. If you have a large team, you would need 2 snow fighters where currently you use 3 snow fighters.
Even if you have a less advanced downward pressure plow, you still can clear snow in a single pass where currently you need to make two or three passes to clear the snow properly off of the pavement.
With cleaner pavement, you also have less need for spreading salt. Either you spread less salt after plowing, or you may not even need to spread salt at all! Either way, you save money.
So, downward pressure really gives you some advantages…but not all systems are created equally. Let’s cover the three best-known systems out there currently.
Boss D-Force® Review
Boss introduced the D-Force® downward pressure option for the first time back in 2017. D-Force® is activated with a double click of the down button after the plow is down on the ground. It does a nice job for short back-dragging runs.
Unfortunately, Boss ONLY recommends their downward pressure for back-dragging. Also, if you back-drag over uneven ground, the pressure lets up and you have to reapply the downward pressure. You also have to reapply Down Pressure® every time you put the blade down (and that gets kind of annoying).
In the end, D-Force® does not maximize your benefits for the approximately $400 price tag to add this option. You can only use D-Force® for back-dragging only and you have to keep re-engaging the downward force, sometimes during a single run. I have to admit, while I am usually impressed with the work the Boss engineers bring to market, I feel like they could have delivered more value this time around.
Still, if you love your Boss plows, I still say, “Get the D-Force®.” The benefits of downward pressure are still worth the extra coin. If you are not a die-hard Boss plow fan, I would recommend you take the time to look at the next option.
Sno-Way Down Pressure® Review
Sno-Way was actually the one to introduce downward pressure to the market many years ago, and we have to admit, no one comes close to what you get with Sno-Way’s Down Pressure®. No, really. I have plowed with it and their Down Pressure® really is awesome.
What makes Sno-Way Down Pressure® different than everyone else? First off, I hit the Down Pressure® button once and it stays engaged for the ENTIRE time I plow. If I hit uneven terrain, the plow stays pushing down (unlike the others) and if I lift up the plow and let it down again, it automatically pushes down again (unlike the others).
Since you can use downward pressure plowing forward, you get a cleaner lot AND it takes about 30% less time to plow because of the weight distribution moving to the back tires giving you greater control and power not to mention a cleaner run on a single pass. At about a $300 markup to add this feature, it is a no brainer. In fact, Sno-Way fans love the feature so much that Sno-Way sells more plows with Down Pressure® than without, and Sno-Way even went ahead and made it the standard option for some of its plows.
If you have never tried plowing forward with Down Pressure®, definitely, take a moment to try it out at your local dealer…or just flag someone down who has a Sno-Way plow since they probably have Down Pressure® installed.
What are the downsides of Sno-Way’s Down Pressure®? I wouldn’t use it with an old battery on my truck because it does use up a little more juice than a regular plow. You also need to buy the Sno-Way plow with Down Pressure® installed because it would be a crazy expensive upgrade later on.
SnowEx ScrapeMaxx® Review
The SnowEx ScrapeMaxx® offers downward pressure for both forward plowing and back dragging. Like the Boss downward pressure, the SnowEx ScrapeMaxx® is NOT a set it and forget it kind of downward pressure. After the blade goes up, when you set the blade down on the ground again, you have to reengage the downward pressure.
Still, we would recommend this option to SnowEx fans. At about $134 list price for the accessory (before install), it is a dirt-cheap option that is a no-brainer to add on, and it makes your regular blade great at back dragging plus it will give you more force when you hit some snow that it is hard-packed against the ground.
Because you have to keep re-engaging the downward force, its usefulness is limited to when you want to consciously ensure your blade does not ride up against the snow. Because you need to reapply the downward force, it is not as easy to use as Sno-Way’s Down Pressure®.
What we really like about the ScrapeMaxx® is that you can add it as an accessory even though you didn’t order your plow with it. Did you buy your SnowEx last year? No worries, you can add the ScrapeMaxx® to your plow. That is one way the ScrapeMaxx® is unique from everyone else.
We are such big fans of the benefits of downward pressure, I will tell you right now, if you have a SnowEx without ScrapeMaxx®, you better go get the accessory kit before the snow flies. The way the option will cut through the snow plowing forward or backward is way better than without it, no matter what the marketing materials say about your gravity plow hugging the ground.
If a muni plow sometimes rides above hardpack, your plow will too, period. Even if you have a big, heavy, commercial plow, the accessory is so inexpensive, you will be delighted with the results, so, get the ScrapeMaxx® if you are a SnowEx fan.
Which Downward Pressure Should You Choose?
Honestly, Sno-Way remains king with their Down Pressure® system. There is just no match for the Sno-Way setup and if you use it with their Revolution plow (including their 4-Sight option and get the wired control), you will move snow like you have never moved snow before while in the cab of a truck. The money you save using the Down Pressure® system makes the plow pay for itself.
If you are a die-hard Boss or SnowEx fan, get the D-Force® or ScrapeMaxx® option. Yes, they are more of a pain than the Sno-Way option, but they are WAY better than going without downward pressure on your plow.
Have you ever plowed with downward pressure on your plow? We would love to hear your story over on our Facebook page.