Down to Earth: Tips to Prep Your Farm Equipment for Winter
Down to Earth: Tips to Prep Your Farm Equipment for Winter

How to Prep Your Farm Equipment for the Winter Season

Cold weather tips to help protect and extend the life of your machines and components.

Ben Rice | Agriculture Industry Representative

Can you believe it’s about that time again? Winter will be here before you know it, and whether you’re storing your farm equipment until the spring or you plan to operate through the winter, there are important steps to take to be sure that you keep your equipment healthy.

But when exactly should you start preparing for colder weather? For crop farmers, you’ll want to begin prepping right after your initial harvest or your last hay crop of the year. For livestock farmers and ranchers, watch the weather for consistently cooler days.

You’ll want to follow different steps depending on if your equipment will be consistently used in colder weather or stored through the winter.

If you’re planning to operate your farm equipment throughout the colder months:

  • Start with checking all fluids and changing fluids where needed.
  • Consider a cold weather fuel additive if you live in an area that experiences extreme cold during the winter.

If your farm equipment will be stored during the winter:

  • Clean the machine off and wash thoroughly. It’s important to eliminate all dust and debris from a machine entering storage so that it doesn’t become a new home to nesting creatures like mice seeking shelter in the winter.
  • Remove attachments from your equipment when you put them in storage.
  • Now’s a great time to make any necessary repairs so your machine is ready to get right to work in the spring.
  • Consider ordering any bigger parts over the winter if needed – this way you aren’t experiencing any downtime. Use this opportunity to plan ahead!
  • Whenever possible, store unused equipment in an enclosed space to protect it from the elements and further wear.
  • Remember to store your fluids at room temperature to protect viscosity.
  • If you experience extreme cold, consider removing the battery from the machine and storing it in a room temperature area.

Tips for Operating in Cold Weather

It may be tempting to skip daily machine walkarounds in the winter, but I urge you to be extra vigilant about your personal safety and your machine’s health during cold weather. Besides awareness of potential slips and falls with snow and ice conditions, there are a few inspection and maintenance best practices you can follow to help protect and extend the life of your machine and components.

  • Continue to make daily inspections before operating the machine. Remove debris, ensure all guards/covers/caps are secure, inspect all hoses and belts, and make any needed repairs. During winter, be sure to open the engine door daily and check for iced-over parts.
  • Consult the reference charts on the machine for scheduled service intervals and maintenance points, with more information available in your Operations & Maintenance Manual (OMM).
  • Make sure your equipment heats up before you run it. Consider using a block heater for the quickest way to warm your engine. When fluid gets cold, it gets thick. Check the radiator hoses, belts, pulleys, etc. to make sure the engine is running like it should.
  • Make sure the heat is working in the cab – just because you have to be out working in the cold doesn’t mean you have to BE cold all day.
  • Watch for ice on or around the machine. Please be safe while entering and exiting equipment.
  • Check your mirrors for ice or snow. If your equipment has heated mirrors, make sure to take advantage of that feature to ensure proper visibility before operating.
  • Make sure lights are also clear of snow or ice for those early morning or late night hours.
  • If your farm equipment has tires, make sure that they maintain the proper inflation to support the weight of the machine. Tires can lose air when the temperature drops in colder months.
  • Consider refilling your fuel tank after each use to prevent it from freezing overnight.

Whether you’re gearing up to push snow, continuing business as usual with your livestock, or putting your farm equipment into hibernation for a time, I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any specific questions about caring for your equipment in winter conditions or you’re interested in additional winter solutions, contact your local Cat® dealer for further guidance.


Blog author Caitlin Maddock-Bahr
Blog author Caitlin Maddock-Bahr

Ben Rice

Agriculture Industry Representative

Having spent his formative years on a tobacco farm, Ben Rice went on in the agriculture field to earn degrees in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science from North Carolina State University. Rice now brings his invaluable expertise to Caterpillar as an industry sales and service representative.

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