Everything a Plow Driver Needs to Know About Proper Ballast Weight

Created May 20, 2020

Proper ballast weight

Understanding ballast weight and knowing how to calculate it properly for your plow truck setup is important. Not only will it help manage the weight loads of the vehicle but will ensure that the vehicle is properly balanced to ensure safe performance.

Benefits of Adding Ballast Weight To Your Vehicle Setup

Adding ballast weight is very common for snow plow drivers due to the additional weight of the plow on the front of the vehicle. In order to level out the weight distribution of the vehicle, additional weight is sometimes needed in the bed of the truck. Heavy material like salt or sand can be used to improve stability and handling such as steering, braking and traction on icy surfaces.

Equipment such as an in-bed hopper or tailgate spreader can also count as ballast weight—just take the weight of the spreading material into account when calculating the vehicles remaining payload capacity.

How to Properly Calculate Ballast Weight

You’ll need to start by understanding what your vehicle and plow manufacturers recommend in their application guides. Drivers need to ensure that the Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (FGAWR) is not overloaded and that the trucks horizontal Cg is within OEM certification range for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 105. When installing a plow, the WESTERN® Quick Match program can help you easily determine if ballast weight is needed and the exact weight for your vehicle and WESTERN plow setup.

NOTE: It’s important to understand your vehicles Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) to ensure you’re not exceeding its limit and creating unsafe conditions.

Secure the Ballast Weight for Safe Operation

After placing the ballast weight behind the rear axle against the vehicle’s tailgate, you’ll want to make sure the materials are secure so they can’t move during transit. This can cause uneven weight distribution and is a safety hazard. Make sure that you are installing a retainer kit to keep the ballast in place and secure in the bed of the vehicle.

Countering the weight of the vehicle plow with in-bed ballast weight is essential for safely operating a vehicle with a plow. Not only does it help level out the weight distribution of the vehicle, but it also helps create traction needed on icy roads to maintain control.