Winter and equipment maintenance

Agriculture Operations Don’t Stop During the Winter. Why Should Your Equipment?

Keep Your Equipment Up and Running Throughout the Winter

Farmers and ranchers are outside year round, using equipment throughout the winter months for livestock care, snow removal and even digging into frozen ground. The importance of proper equipment care and maintenance is amplified due to wintry weather conditions.

Fluid Handling in the Winter

Fluids are the lifeblood of the machine, so it's important to make sure they are properly handled throughout the winter months. In addition to using Cat® Fluids, which are tested through extreme conditions and applications, follow these steps to keep your machine ready for cold weather:

  • Before the cold arrives, replace the lubricant in each compartment with one featuring the highest oil viscosity allowed based on your region’s typical ambient temperature. More information on lubricant viscosities can be found here.
  • Store starting fluids at indoor room temperature, and only inject starting fluid while the engine is cranking.
  • Use coolant designed for use in the lowest expected outside temperature. To avoid damage, allow the engine to cool before adding antifreeze.
Preparing Equipment for Winter Use

The chance of damage to the engine and other components can be greatly reduced by letting the machine warm up and following these additional tips prior to equipment use:

  • If the engine isn’t warm enough for startup, obstruct the radiator with a piece of cardboard to block cold air. This will increase engine temperature and heat hydraulic fluid more quickly.
  • After startup, let the engine run until it reaches operating temperature to help prevent the intake and exhaust valves from sticking.
  • The battery should be kept fully charged and warm. In subzero temperatures, it may help to bring the battery inside to store it at room temperature when not in use.
  • To avoid fires, scorched wiring or a melted battery case, never use a torch or other open flame to heat components.
Tips for a Proper Winter Maintenance Routine

Take these additional steps to keep your machine up and running for the duration of the winter season:

  • Wash down equipment after every use to remove salt and dirt. Salt is especially damaging, as it can corrode and rust the frame and other metal parts.
  • Park your machine on wooden planks to prevent it from freezing to the ground.
  • Top off fuel after every use to prevent freezing.
  • Check the air intake daily for snow and ice, and remove all dirt from the tread so it does not freeze into the tires.
  • Use dry nitrogen gas to inflate flat tires to eliminate ice crystals, which can hold the valve stem open in the tire. You can find this at your local Cat dealer.
  • All rubber parts, including hoses, tires, drive belts and electrical wiring, should be inspected weekly for cracks and other damage.

A general outline for proper machine use is only the start for cold weather operation. Conditions, applications and resources vary greatly across the country. For more information specific to your machine and climate, consult your local Cat dealer.

 


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