Winter can be hard on any type of vehicle, but this season is especially hard on heavy equipment and the diesel engines that power them.
For some, winter is a time to make sure maintenance routines are caught up on and any fixes that were put off earlier in the year. For others, though, their machinery and heavy equipment must continue to operate even when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate.
No matter the situation you find yourself in, it is important to know how to take care of your heavy equipment during winter and how to winterize each vehicle and piece of machinery in your fleet when necessary.
Here are several tips for how to winterize heavy equipment and keep them in good shape and ready to get the job done when you need them to.
If you are not planning on using your heavy equipment because of winter conditions, such as excavators and backhoes that aren’t able to efficiently break through the hard, frozen ground, then you need to have a plan for how to properly store their batteries.
Batteries for equipment and machinery that are not in use should always be stored in a warm, dry environment. Doing this will not only protect the life of the battery, but it also will put less stress on machinery engines when trying to start if the battery is in good condition.
While we are on the topic of correct storage, you should also take care to store the machinery itself in a place that is out of the elements. Ideally, this will be an enclosed facility that can shield the heavy equipment from any weather winter may throw your way this season. This can also be helpful when you are trying to start engines because the equipment will be warmer.
But storing equipment somewhere warm has other benefits, too. It also helps make sure fluids and oils do not freeze.
Heavy diesel equipment operators need to make sure they are using the right type of fuel when temperatures plummet. If they don’t, then the fuel could gel and cause all sorts of problems.
In winter, you may want to consider changing to No. 1 diesel fuel instead of the No. 2 diesel fuel that is favored in summer and other warmer months. This is because No. 2 diesel fuel does not hold up as well in very cold temperatures and could begin to gel sooner than No. 1 diesel fuel.
Diesel fuel also needs to be protected from water and ice. If either gets in diesel, it can cause operating issues.
Now, it’s true that there already is some water in diesel, but problems occur when the diesel comes into contact with other water. For example, if the diesel temperature drops suddenly, the suspended water in the diesel could settle, freeze and form ice crystals.
Condensation inside a storage tank can also cause diesel and water to mix. This could also lead to ice crystals in the diesel and problems for operators.
Winter can be hard on heavy equipment undercarriage thanks to all the extra dirt and grime around due to snowfall, ice and treatment on roads. It is important, though, to keep undercarriages clean and free of debris this time of year.
Don’t let all that dirt build up on your equipment. Take advantage of any break in the cold weather to clean the undercarriage and the rest of the machinery, too.
Tires need to be closely monitored in the winter. It’s in these cold months that problems with tire pressure are made even worse. PSI levels drop by one for every 10 degree shift downward in outside temperature.
So, always keep an eye on tire pressure and make sure all tires are inflated to recommended levels. If you come across a tire that is low, then fill it with air to the recommended pressure level as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to watch the overall condition of tires in winter. Damaged or cracked tires that may have been OK when temperatures were higher may finally give out at the worst time of year, leaving operators stuck in the cold with equipment that needs to be moved.
Operators should also closely monitor tire tread to make sure their equipment will have enough grip in rough wintery conditions.
Heavy equipment engines should always be warmed up and brought to temperature before you try to operate them. While this can take a little longer in the winter, it’s even more important this time of year if you want to protect engines and equipment from damage.
Running the engine helps keep intake and exhaust valves from sticking. It also allows time for oil that has been warmed up to reach all other parts to help them work properly.
It’s always a good idea to give all filters a close inspection in the winter to make sure they are clean and in good operating condition.
This includes checking both fuel and air filters. Fuel filters should be checked to make sure they are still working properly, while air filters may need to be cleaned or even replaced if they are too dirty or are damaged.
If the air filter looks like it has seen cleaner days, then it may be time to clean it. With Filter Blaster, you can clean air filters to improve their effectiveness in keeping dirty air from reaching your heavy equipment diesel engine.
Our technology makes the process easier – and safer for equipment – than any other filter cleaning tool available.
Take a look at our Filter Blaster products to see how they can help you save money and keep heavy equipment running better.