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Best Practices

Tips for Heavy Equipment in Winter

ASC BestPractices Index V1

Prepare Your Heavy Equipment for Winter

Winter can take a serious toll on construction equipment if the right steps aren’t taken beforehand to prepare it for the changes in temperature. Whether you are planning to store your machines or to work through the winter months, follow these tips and best practices to protect your equipment and keep them working at their best.

Check your coolant
When operating or storing heavy equipment in the winter months, it’s important to make sure you’re using coolant that complies with ASTM standard D-621 and has a freeze point low enough for your climate. If your coolant freezes, it can crack your engine block.

Use fuel conditioner
Fuel conditioner will keep your fuel from freezing and will help your engine start when operating heavy equipment in winter weather. Consult your owner’s manual to see how much conditioner is required for your specific machine.

Fill your fuel tank completely
We recommend topping off your diesel tank and leaving it full when storing during the winter months. If there is space in your tank, then condensation could form and introduce moisture into your fuel.

Inspect your fuel filter
If your fuel filter is clogged or your water traps are full, they can both freeze when temperatures drop, making it difficult for your engine to start and potentially leading to more serious damage. Empty the water traps in the filters before cold weather arrives. To avoid downtime, keep an extra set of fuel filters in your cab.

Watch your cold start aids and block heaters
Diesel engines spray ether into the air system to help the engine start in winter weather. For older machines that have ether spray bottles, inspect them to make sure they aren’t empty. For new machines with an automatic ether system, check the connections and hoses for cracks or loose connections. We also recommend making sure your block heaters are working before the cold arrives. Plug in the heater to check it, then touch the hoses to make sure they are warm.

Check your air pre-cleaners
Dust particles and other debris and contaminants can build up on your air pre-cleaners during the summer. They should be removed before working in the winter to prevent snow and ice from collecting around them and allowing moisture in the air system.

Replace the oil and run the engine
Before storing your heavy equipment in the winter, we recommend replacing the oil and then running the engine, so that a protective film of oil coats the internal components. This coating will help prevent rust and corrosion.

Drain and winterize water systems
If your machines include asphalt rollers or any equipment that uses a spray system, it’s important to drain the water tanks, lines, and pumps before storing your machine for the season. Once the system is drained, add antifreeze to the tanks and pump it through the system to keep any residual water from freezing and possibly causing damage.

Clean and charge your batteries
Avoid storing discharged batteries, as they will lose more charge over the winter, which could damage the cells. Starting off with a fully charged battery will help prevent it from discharging too far and causing damage.

Start your machines once a month
It’s important to start your equipment periodically if possible while they are in storage. However, we recommend not starting the engine in extremely cold weather. Find a time when temperature is above freezing to start the machine and operate the hydraulics for a brief time.

If you have any questions about operating or storing heavy equipment in winter, contact our team today!

ASC BestPractices Index V1