Seeing the outside of your home in fluffy white snow can be a beautiful and magical sight. That’s until you realize you’ll need to clear it.
Anyone who’s shoveled snow during winter can appreciate how applying salt makes your life a little easier.
If you have a large area to clear, you may need a hitch receiver salt spreader. Receiver hitch salt spreaders are not cheap, though. They typically cost anywhere between $250 to $1500 or more.
If you’re going to spend that much money, it’s essential to invest in a good quality unit. A high-quality applicator spreads evenly and saves time and salt. On the other hand, a cheap spreader can cause you to spend more money on salt.
This article provides insights into purchasing the best hitch-mounted salt spreader, sometimes called a tailgate salt spreader, bumper salt spreader, or receiver salt spreader.
- 1 About Hitch Salt Spreaders
- 2 Top 3 Best Hitch Mount Salt Spreaders
- 3 Preventing Salt Spreader Clogs.
- 4 Maintaining an electric tailgate salt spreader.
- 5 Spreader Terminology and Definitions
- 6 Hitch Spreader FAQs
About Hitch Salt Spreaders
Most hitch-mounted salt spreaders can attach to SUVs, 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, or 1-ton trucks, ATVs, tractors, or any other vehicle with a 2-inch receiver hitch.
Most are rated for residential or commercial use. They are built to meet the needs of sidewalk workers and facility maintenance personnel seeking better performance.
Rear hitch salt spreaders make it simple to quickly clear snow from driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, runways, and pavement with rock salt or ice melt.
Top 3 Best Hitch Mount Salt Spreaders
1. Saltdogg TGS02 Tailgate Salt Spreader
This salt spreader produced in the USA is manufactured by SaltDogg and has the model number TGS02.
The orange steel frame is corrosion-proof. The 9″ spreader is also made of high-quality polymer.
This spreader is powered by a 12V, 1.5 HP electric motor.
Its solid hopper is made of high-quality polyethylene polymer and fixed on a powder-coated steel frame. This spreader is suitable for thawing in one pass on access roads and alleys.
It is equipped with an additional socket adapter, which allows the vehicle battery to power the centrifuge’s electric motor.
This compact design is suitable for home use. The average empty weight is 63.4 pounds, length 30 inches, width 30.9 inches, and height 31.5 inches.
The corrosion-resistant tank can hold 331 pounds of rock salt. It also has a 9-inch wide centrifuge that can scatter salt up to 30 feet in diameter. It is also equipped with a standard on/off switch.
With a coupling bracket compatible with class 3 and 4 receivers, the coupling bracket folds easily, allowing access to the rear door.
Typically, the machine scatters salt on a 14-foot diameter. The gravity spreader is equipped with a door that opens and closes manually.
This model comes with a complete set of mounting accessories. It also comes with a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty.
The hopper’s interior is super smooth so that the rock salt flows freely through the outlet door and into the centrifuge and is made of stainless steel.
It is a well-built, high-performance, detachable tailgate salt spreader with a capacity of 4.4 cubic feet: simple 2-inch design and 1.25-inch pickup.
This makes it a robust machine for standard SUVs and 1/2, 1, and 2-ton trucks.
But before buying a salt spreader, consider how much area you’re covering and hopper sizes. Choosing a large enough hopper means you can cover the area you need to without having to stop and refill repeatedly. Just for reference, a 50lb hopper will hold an entire bag of salt or ice melt. Polyethylene molded hoppers, aka Poly hoppers, are the way to go.
You will have salt scraping the inside along with moisture, so unlike a metal hooper that would quickly rust away, they are corrosion-proof. They are also lightweight, dent-resistant, and very durable overall.
Electric-powered hitch-mounted spreaders are the most popular. The 12V DC-powered electric units require no need to refuel or to perform engine maintenance. A closed-loop in-cab controller controls the vibration unit (if included), independent auger, and spinner disc speeds.
If tailgate access is necessary while the spreader is mounted, consider a fold-away unit. That way, you have easy tailgate access without the hassle of having to remove the spreader. The hitch shank has a hinge that swings the rest of the frame and spreader unit out of the way of the tailgate.
2. Meyer 31100 Tailgate Salt Spreader
The Meyer 31100 tailgate salt spreader frame is carbon steel and has a black powder coating for protection.
The Meyer gives you the control you need to achieve a spread pattern of up to 25 feet.
The average no-load weighs 101 pounds, much higher than the SaltDogg, but lower than the SnowEx SP-575X Pro.
The inside of the Meyer 31100’s hopper has an ultra-smooth structure, allowing rock salt to flow freely through the flow gate and into the spinner.
A 1/8 horsepower direct-drive electric motor is connected directly to the auger. This gives you more power to split large chunks and runs the unit 75% more efficiently than a non-direct drive salt spreader.
It has a sturdy hopper made of high-quality polymer and is mounted on a sturdy frame.
Unlike the SaltDogg TGSUV1B and the SnowEx SP-575X Pro, the 31100 is well suited for small volume de-icing on access roads and one-pass driveways.
Both the BL-240 and Bl-400 are equipped with a simple and easy-to-use in-cab controller “touch panel”.
These low-maintenance models feature a corrosion-resistant composite rotator. Its spinners are capable of releasing salt 25 feet in diameter.
The Meyer also comes with an auxiliary plug adapter that can power the electric motor that runs the spinner using a car battery.
Like the SaltDogg above TGSUV1B and SnowEx, the Meyer 31100 has a compact design suitable for residential recreation.
The Meyer Baseline spreader’s hopper is made of a high-density, virtually unbreakable polyurethane.
All Meyer Base Line salt spreaders are manufactured in the U.S., meet strict standards, and are thoroughly tested before being fully assembled and shipped.
This spreader comes with a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, a complete set of assembly tools is included.
The frame is designed to protect the engine and act as a storage rack in the off-season.
Its hitch brackets can be easily folded down to allow quick access to the tailgate. Similarly, its gravity spreader features a manual opening and closing gate.
It comes with a storage bracket for when the spreader is not in use.
A 1/8 horsepower direct-drive motor transmits power through a variable-speed controller. It has an efficient drive and power transmission system that keeps the spreader running precisely and is a 240-pound load capacity salt spreader.
There is nothing better than using Meyer’s Baseline Salt Spreader. It is explicitly designed for light-duty trucks and SUVs and will fit perfectly into any 2-inch receiver hitch.
The Meyer 31100 is 28.8 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 32.2 inches high, slightly smaller than SaltDogg’s TGSUV1B.
It’s time to add the ultimate de-icing tool to your winter arsenal!
3. SnowEx Tailgate Salt Spreader
The SnowEx Tailgate Salt Spreader mounts to a conventional 2-inch receiver and has a 3-inch high-flow vertical auger that keeps the salt flowing smoothly without debris or backup. The entire spreader is mounted on a powder-coated steel frame. It features an oxidation-free polyethylene hopper and composite spinner disc. SnowEx tailgate salt spreaders have no pulleys, chains, sprockets, belts, and very little maintenance. It uses a 12-volt electric drive and maximum torque transmission. Being mounted in a weatherproof enclosure for years of reliable use.
This spreader works well for UTVs, compact trucks and SUVs, and half-ton trucks.
SnowEx is practical, low maintenance, and easy to operate. It comes in four different models for virtually any application, whether a homeowner, property manager or professional contractor.
It includes a wiring harness with molded plugs.
The SnowEx is a 10-inch nylon/glass tempered spinner. The spreader weighs 79 pounds when empty and measures 18″ x 33″ x 33″.
It is equipped with SnowEx’s patented auger system, vibrators, and dual variable speed controllers. It fits a 2″ receiver hitch to provide quick and easy application. Spreading bagged rock salt and calcium flakes up to 25 feet, the SP-325 is ideal for use by contractors who need to free up space in the back of a truck or have small bills to pay.
Take control of icy roads by hooking the SnowEx Tailgate Salt Spreader to your vehicle. SnowEx Tailgate Salt Spreaders come in two sizes and come with a two-year SnowEx warranty.
In-Cab Spreader Controllers
The best hitch salt spreaders include a variable speed in-cab controller. Having one puts you in control of the spreading operations without having to stop and exit the vehicle.
Of course, auger and spin speed settings are present. Some in-cab controllers offer “blast” mode, and when the button is pressed and held, the spreader operates at maximum speed for a brief moment. This can result in salt being cast up to 30 feet or more.
What is a Spreader Vibration Unit?
Unfortunately, rock salt is chunky, and if it was not kept dry and cool, it could get even chunkier. This can cause it to get stuck or hung up in the hopper or jam up in the spreader discs. Units with vibration control help keep the salt flowing. This is a must-have feature, but beware, sometimes manufacturers consider it an optional accessory. They then sell a compatible vibration kit separately. In any case, most controllers allow you to operate the vibration control from inside the cab.
Preventing Salt Spreader Clogs.
Ordinary rock salt or larger ice melt crystals can get stuck in the mechanical parts, such as the spinning disc or auger. Some better models prevent mechanical jamming by offering an automatic temporary reverse on the auger rotation just long enough to clear the clog. Then they quickly change back to regular rotation to restore spreading operations without user intervention.
Rock salt needs to be stored in an arid and warm environment. Damp salt causes the salt rocks to stick together, creating giant rocks. So with that, bags of salt product need to be appropriately stored and always remove unused salt remaining in spreader after use.
Maintaining an electric tailgate salt spreader.
Common After Use Maintenance
- Remove all rock salt or Ice Melt remaining in the spreader.
- Wash out the spreader.
- Store in the hopper and any bags or salt in a cool, dry place.
- Check and retighten fasteners after every 5-7 hours of use.
- Lubricate bearings and greaseable gearboxes with ordinary automotive grease.
- Apply dielectric grease to all electrical connectors.
- Check, clean, and repaint any areas as needed.
- At the end of the season, remove the controller from the truck. Store the controller in a cool, dry place.
Spreader Terminology and Definitions
Adjustable Feed Gate
The feed gate and auger design provides complete and reliable flow control with positive shutoff and eliminates spills and waste.
The observed rate of material applied.
Attached by the spinner disc, these raised portions fling the salt that lands on the disc. They help determine the pattern the material is being spread on the ground.
Usually, a molded polyethylene lid with a seal that protects the thawing material from the elements.
It breaks up large chunks of de-icing material during loading and prevents clogging and bridging during spreader operations.
Material Flow Rate
To reduce the flow of material, lower the inverted V toward the hole. For slower flowing, hard-to-flow materials, you can raise the inverted V or remove it altogether. Another way is by either opening or closing the adjustable discharge port at the bottom of the trough. Doing either allows the flow and pattern of the material to be adjusted.
A method to determine application rate and spray pattern. The pan should be 1 to 3 square feet and 4 to 6 inches deep.
A rotating disc is used to deliver the product to the ground.
Determining the amount of product being applied to a given area, usually measured by pan testing.
Uniform Spread Pattern
A good spread pattern produces a uniform spread across the intended target area after multiple swaths or back and forth passes.
Hitch Spreader FAQs
How does a salt spreader work?
A salt spreader mounts on the back of a vehicle and spreads salt or ice melt as the vehicle moves along. With the spreader mounted on the truck, the operator loads the hopper with salt and turns it on. The operator controls the auger and spinner from within the cab and controls the material’s spreading rate.
Can you use a fertilizer spreader with salt or ice melt?
No, it’s not recommended. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can use a fertilizer spreader for salt. Unlike fertilizer spreaders with small openings and material paths, salt spreaders have more robust gearboxes and larger hopper openings and flow pathways to handle rock salt up to 2” inches in size.
The better hoppers have a screen that prevents material that’s too large (over 2 inches) from entering the hopper that would most likely cause operational problems or damage the equipment.