Winter is quickly approaching and, as such, it’s time to start thinking about seasonal equipment maintenance and the necessary steps to take to protect your machines from the cold. Here are some useful tips to winterizing equipment:
1. Use weather-appropriate oil and coolant
It’s a good idea to change your oil before and after the winter season, according to an article published by The Balance. Another important thing to remember is to use the correct oil for your equipment. Engine oil viscosity, the thickness/consistency of the oil, is an important factor when choosing the correct type. A low viscosity oil is an important conduit for faster oil flow.
Typically, the recommended ratio of coolant to water is 50/50, however, in the colder months a 70/30 ratio can be useful in order to prevent water from freezing, according to The Balance article. Having said that, too much coolant can catalyze a situation where the water pump works harder. However, too much water can freeze, so it is a careful balancing act.
2. Remember to clean your equipment prior to storing
It’s important to clean your equipment during the winter months after use and before storage. If dirt, mud and snow is not removed, it may harden and make operation more difficult for future use. It’s recommended to pay particular attention to the engine bay, undercarriage, wheel hubs, brakes and other exposed areas, according an article published on the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.
3. Properly maintain and store batteries for the colder months
If your equipment will be used during the winter months, be sure to verify that the battery’s electrolyte is filled to the indicated level, according to The Balance article. The terminal of the battery should be cleaned of debris and rust to prevent it from slowly draining. Do not attempt to charge a frozen battery as this may cause it to explode.
Although the perfect way to store your battery is debatable, removing the battery for storage is a good option. It is recommended to store the battery in a dry, clean area and to leave it connected to a battery maintainer to ensure it remains charged, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.
4. Protect your tires
Lower temperatures can reduce tire pressure so it’s important to check for the proper tire pressure and to habitually inspect tires for wear and tear. If possible, consider using track-mounted equipment in the colder months versus tire-mounted equipment, suggests the The Balance article.
5. Storing your equipment
Moisture is an important factor when choosing the best place to store your equipment. Preferably, the storage site should be enclosed with a concrete floor versus dirt floor to reduce moisture, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.
Another couple of things to remember when storing your equipment include: keeping the windows of any vehicle cabins cracked and taking rodent resistant measures. Keeping windows cracked will allow the air to circulate in your vehicle and will reduce the buildup of mold and moisture in cabins. Placing a ball of steel wool in the exhaust pipe and air intake openings, while stored, and placing mothballs inside cabins are good preventative measures for rodent resistance, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.
6. Maintain your fuel tank
When winterizing equipment, fuel tanks should be maintained to prevent condensation inside the tank and fuel lines, according to The Balance article. Fuel treatments thaw frozen fuel filters, liquefy fuel and remove moisture from the lines and tanks. Fuel treatments can be added to both diesel and fuel tanks. It’s recommended to keep a spare filter available, for your convenience when it becomes necessary.
7. Remember to grease
Remember to maintain all grease points on your equipment during the winter months. Properly greasing points on each apparatus will prevent moisture from building and creating damage to your equipment, according to The Balance article. Manufacturers recommend to use low-temperature lubricants during the colder months.
When winterizing equipment for use or for winter storage, remember to check your equipment’s fluids. If engine oil is thick or sooty, you should change the oil before proceeding with use/storage, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog. Other fluid levels should be checked and topped off when necessary. Anti-freeze levels are particularly important to regularly check.
9. Don’t forget to conduct routine maintenance- whether the vehicle will be used or not
Take advantage of the offseason to address any lingering maintenance issues or repairs needed on your equipment to prevent downtime during the busier months, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog. Regular maintenance tasks and routinely examining equipment for potential issues should be retained throughout the season.
10. Monitor diesel exhaust fluid for freezing
Newer equipment tends to use diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). DEF will freeze at 10 degrees or lower, according to The Balance article. It’s important to make sure that there is a way to heat and thaw frozen DEF to keep equipment running.
If you have any questions or concerns about your equipment and or if you need winterizing call the Hugg & Hall Service Department closest to you. Equipping you for success since 1956.