Stay Safe on Icy Roads With These Snow Operating Tips

If you’re out there removing snow from the nation’s roads this winter, you’re doing one of the most important jobs to keep our country running. But it’s important to stay safe and to understand how to maneuver your Cat® motor grader in even the iciest conditions. These snow operating tips will help you clear the way.

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

In snow removal operations using your Cat® motor grader, safety must be your No. 1 objective. Here are some safety tips as well as information about tire chain and snow tire use.


  • Work in the direction of traffic when possible.

  • Be aware of other drivers, especially if you need to change speed or direction. Blowing snow can lower visibility and make driving conditions more dangerous. 

  • Normal operating speeds are in the 5-20 mph (8-32.1 km/h) range, depending on conditions and attachments.

  • Even when you’re being extra careful, you can hit objects that are hidden under the snow. Wear your seat belt to prevent operator injury. A circle slip clutch can reduce the effect felt by both operator and machine when a hidden object is hit at higher speeds.


Snow removal jobs often take place on roads with limited traction. You may need tire chains to make sure you can keep working. 

Several different types of chains are available, each designed for specific conditions. Tire chains are normally used on rear drive tires, but are also used on the front tires of both AWD and standard motor graders to increase traction and to reduce front end sliding.

Tire chain use tips

  • Keep a set with the machine. We recommend keeping them on the wing rear support, where they are easy to reach.

  • Plan ahead. Chains are heavy to lift and hard to install, especially on the tire near the wing.

  • Avoid excessive tire spin when chains are installed. This can cause pricey chain damage and damage to the road or work surface.

  • Check chains often during the operation and keep them tight by proper adjustment and use of bungee cords when possible. Loose chains may come off when traveling or cause damage to the machine. 

  • Repair broken cross links as quickly as possible. A loose cross link can cause extensive — and expensive — damage to the machine. Keep chain repair pliers and repair links in your motor grader.

  • Do not travel for long distances on hard surface roads with chains installed. Doing so can raise your operating cost because of rapid chain and tire tread wear.

  • Chains normally restrict machine travel speed to 6-8 mph (10-13 km/h) on any hard-frozen surface. Don’t travel faster than this. That will cause rapid tire chain wear, machine loping and, in some cases, vibration that can loosen or damage machine components.

Snow tires

Several manufacturers offer snow-specific motor grader tires. These tires provide superior traction in snow and ice. Unlike tire chains, snow tires can be used at all ground speeds, with most if not all necessary traction.

Due to the lug pattern and size, front fenders are recommended with snow tires. Snow tires can grab gravel pieces between their lugs and throw debris at the cab windshield, causing damage. Consider adding fenders to prevent this.


Want to read more about which attachments may be right for your snow removal application? Check out this article. And learn more about motor grader snow solutions with these equipment kits.


Snow removal is just one of many tasks the full family of Cat® motor graders can do for you.

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