August 21

10 Winterizing Tips for Your Heavy Equipment

Like all of the seasons, the harshness of winter can vary depending on your region. If you find yourself in below zero weather often, winterizing your heavy equipment can prevent downtime, and wear and tear.  

  1. Check your Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) when temperatures are below freezing (32 degrees celsius/0 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Fault codes from your technology will help you determine if your DEF will thaw in the predetermined time so your engine can warm up before operation. Speak to your Skyline Machinery Sales specialist for recommended DEF times. While machines are designed to run on frozen DEF for a determined amount of time, if it fails to thaw by a recommended time, it may be best to shut the machine off before the engine derates and codes up. 
  1. Drain the DEF Tank
    • Storing the equipment for the winter? Drain your DEF tank before shutting the storage door. When Springtime arrives, experts recommend flushing the tank with distilled water or fresh DEF. Then you can fill your machine full with new DEF. While freezing may occur, most heavy equipment has greater sensitivity to heat and sun since DEF is 66% distilled water. 
  2. Load up the engine to increase heat
    • If you use your equipment solely for short cycles and light run, sometimes it cannot build up enough to heat the exhaust. This causes your machine to perform a regeneration - excessive idle times - that prevents your equipment from properly heating up. Without passive regeneration, your equipment can become faulty and harm your emissions system. 
  3. Use the best fuel for the season 
    • Keep your fuel from gelling by using the proper fuel for the season. Summer heat can oftentimes call for No. 2 diesel fuel. In the winter, No. 1 diesel can perform better because of the lower viscosity. Before it gets cold, it’s best to change or run out your No. 2 fuel. 
  4. Check greases and fluids; they are seasonal too
    • Coolant and oil grades matter. Similar to your fuel, greases and fluids that thicken during the winter and decrease the performance of your equipment. For example, brakes can lock up in extreme cold if you fail to use lower-temperature fluid oil. It can also lead to breakage in your pumps, hoses and reservoirs, increasing construction costs with unnecessary downtime. 
  5. Test your battery 
    • If your battery voltage is poor during the winter, you will likely experience greater challenges in cold environments (sometimes up to 50 percent decreased performance). Use a battery tester to ensure your voltage remains high. 
  6. Idle your machines overnight 
    • While long idling can wear on the life of your machine, in some environments it is necessary. For example, experts will recommend idling your machine overnight in locations with extremely cold temperatures (e.g. -40 degrees F). Keeping your machine on overnight helps you avoid dedicating half the day or even a whole day to simply warming up your equipment. In addition to idling your equipment, you may also need to increase your exhaust temperature (sometimes up to 1200 RPMs), so you can save fuel and ensure fluids lubricate all cylinders. 
  7. Clean your machines before leaving for the day 
    • High soot or mud can freeze overnight. It can feel like concrete the next day and be difficult to pry out. If you operate your equipment with ice on it, you can damage your rollers, tracks and more. 
  8. Change equipment features 
    • Auto-start monitoring system: Checks your engine temperature and battery voltage consistently. If temperatures or voltage drop significantly, the system automatically starts your engine to bring levels up and shuts down again. 
    • Engine block heaters: warm up the engine block before starting it 
    • Diesel-powered coolant heaters: decrease warming time in the cab and starting time of your equipment  
    • New fire suppression extinguishing system: In colder climates, it’s vital that you use a different system for fire suppression. The extinguishing agent will need to activate at different temperatures. 
    • Arctic-rated Hoses: Works in conditions as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit 
    • Water separators with heaters: Improved diesel fuel efficiency by decreasing wax buildup 
  9. Add corrosion-protective spray 
    • For equipment that is frozen and stored all winter, your equipment’s cylinder rods can become rusty, cause pitting and lead to toil leaks when you restart your machine. 
  10. Operator Safety is #1 
    • Often in the wintertime, you’re working with shorter amounts of daylight, so it’s important to ensure all lights, stairs and walkways are clear and in operation. Your safety is paramount. Without you, the job cannot be completed. 

For more detailed information, speak with your local Skyline Machinery Sales specialist for best tips. Find your specialist today.


maintenance, winter, winterizing

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