Make Sure To Do These Things To Be Ready To Use Your Compact Equipment In Winter | Part 1
Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean your dealership’s customers are taking the winter off. Contractors or municipalities, they still have work to do. They may be trying to squeeze in a few more days of road or building work, and they’re probably gearing up for snow removal jobs. Using compact equipment in winter presents unique challenges. Is your rental fleet ready?
In this two-part blog series, we’ll look at what’s needed to maintain compact equipment in winter, so your rental customers can operate safely, smoothly and reliably despite inhospitable conditions. Taking the time to properly prep machines now will boost productivity and reduce headaches. Equipment and operators are likely to be working long hours, and no one wants to be fighting a machine while also fighting cold temperatures, slippery surfaces and poor visibility.
Rule #1: Start by consulting your OEM owner’s manual.
Recommendations can vary somewhat from one manufacturer to another, and your manual will have detailed information pertinent to your type of equipment and specific model machine. You should find a seasonal maintenance checklist that covers winterization to-dos plus recommended oil and other fluids for winter operation.
Winter operation essentials for every machine.
Working parts have a tougher time with it’s cold outside – just ask your fingers and toes! For your compact equipment in winter, this means fluids and grease are critical to maintain smooth, reliable operation.
- Check engine coolant condition and level, double-checking the mixture ratio against the OEM’s specs. Pressure-test the system.
- Use lighter viscosity hydraulic and engine oils that won’t turn to sludge in freezing temperatures. That protects your engine during cold starts. Consider using oils specially formulated for the kind of extra-harsh conditions we often face here in the northeast.
- Top off the fuel tank at the end of each working day, to help keep condensation out of the fuel system.
- Liberally lubricate all grease points to block dirt and moisture, and check every point each day to be sure it’s adequately protected. Doing this will prevent rust as well as freezing and seizing.
Remove attachments for storage, reattaching them when they will be needed. Leaving them in place when it’s freezing out puts too much stress on equipment, and that can damage hinges and joints. You certainly don’t want to start the spring season with unnecessary repairs to vital attachments.
Not every machine in your “on call” winter rental fleet will be working regularly. But you don’t want any piece of equipment to sit idle too long in very cold weather. So plan a bi-weekly start-up of each machine. Run it long enough to bring the engine up to operating temperature and drive it around a bit to ensure the gears are working smoothly.
Winterizing equipment that won’t be working.
Many machines in your fleet will be out of service over the winter. But you can’t just shut them off and walk away, or you could face expensive problems come spring. Again, your owner’s manual should be your first resource if you’re putting a piece of equipment “to bed” for the winter.
Even if you don’t expect to use the machine at all over the winter, follow the same routine noted above for infrequently rented equipment, starting the machine up periodically to warm the engine, gears and fluids.
Whether you’ll be using your equipment this winter or not, proper winterization is a must to protect your investment. In our next article, we’ll take a more detailed look at using compact equipment in winter, focusing on skid steers and track loaders.