Keep Your Equipment Operating Smoothly this Winter
Of all the seasons, Winter tends to be hardest on your equipment. Cold, damp weather can take a serious toll on your machines and their productivity, not to mention the possibility of increased maintenance costs when things freeze up.
In this entry, Fabick Cat has created a checklist on preventative processes and precautions that you can take to make sure you stay productive when the temperatures start to drop and conditions become more and more challenging.
Engine Lubrication – Cold weather will thicken the oil that lubricates your engine, making the engine work harder than it should. To address this, switch over to an oil lubricant that is made for colder temps. Just make sure that the oil you choose is approved in the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Check the Coolant – Coolant contains water and in colder temperatures, water can freeze which can cause a whole host of issues in regulating your engine temperature. Try to use a coolant with a 60 to 40 coolant to water ratio and if using an extended life coolant, check its freeze point with a refractometer at the beginning of the season and continue to check it to ensure a good coolant balance.
Tread Carefully –Ice and snow and heavy equipment are a dangerous mix. Make sure that your tires and tracks are up to snuff in terms of traction and monitor them closely. You should also consider investing in snow tires if you know that inclement weather will be a problem on your job sites. In addition to the quality of your tires, monitor their pressure. When the temp drops, so does the PSI on your tires. Low-pressure tires wear out faster and decrease the equipment’s output. Always consult the manufacturer’s recommended weather guidelines when adjusting tire pressure.
Cold and Diesel May Not Gel, or Do They – Cold weather and diesel fuel are a recipe for ice and gelling. Ice in your engine or the clumps that form when the hydrocarbons in diesel freeze (gelling) can wreak havoc on your engine. In winter weather, we recommend using No. 1-D fuel for your machines.
Battery Best Practice – Everyone has been stranded by a dead battery and heavy equipment is no exception. Take precautions to replace older batteries and always allow your battery and machine to heat up before actually starting work. If possible, store the equipment indoors or at least out of the elements, and never try and jump a frozen battery. They can explode.
Greasy Grease– Grease, like engine lubricant, must be viscous to perform its function. Cold weather can turn your equipment’s grease into a tacky, sticky mess and ultimately grind you to a halt. When winter arrives, switch to a PAO-base oil. It will perform below zero and will protect your machine from unwanted friction.
Don’t Forget to Scrub – Once your equipment comes off the job, take the time to clean it properly. Debris mud and dirt can freeze, negatively impacting your machine’s output and it can also cause more permanent damage to the undercarriage, tracks and wheels. Pressure washing after a messy job will help.
Filter Out Problems – While dust and dirt may not be as prevalent during winter months, your filters probably trapped a lot of both in the months leading up to colder weather. Go ahead and change your filters before the temp goes down and your machines will breathe easier.
Warm Up Before You Start – Most construction equipment performs best at 40 degrees. Before you start operating your machines, let them reach their optimal temperature. Some shortcuts for warm-up include a diesel engine block heater and storing equipment indoors when it is not being used.
Be Diligent with Your Maintenance – Regardless of the season, routine checks of your equipment are essential to prolong its life and increase its capabilities. Your team should conduct an inspection each day to troubleshoot potential problems. Things to inspect include fluid levels, hoses, lubricants, tire pressures and treads, and filters. A quick review of these essential components in your equipment can save downtime on the jobsite.
If we can help you plan for winter weather, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.