Ice & Snow Equipment
Be winter-ready by maintaining important seasonal equipment during the fall
Fall maintenance of equipment pays off in the long run
October 6, 2023 By Justin Parrott
As the seasons change, so do the demands of your equipment and the maintenance requirements needed to keep your equipment performing at its best. Canada throws a wide range of weather conditions at operators come the winter, and these conditions are all too familiar, tending to make work increasingly difficult and time consuming.
There is no worse thought than being broken down during the winter with work still left to do. Fall maintenance pays off in the long run and is crucial for ensuring success and ease of operation come the winter. Whether it’s a compact track loader, tractor, RTV or attachment, all benefit from some TLC in the fall and winter months to ensure smooth operation once the temperature drops.
Maintenance can often be a daunting and time-consuming task, but by being proactive in the fall months and into the winter, the chances of a breakdown or setbacks are minimal, especially when you have kept up with regular maintenance and adjusted it for the cold. Here are a few essential tips for ensuring your equipment is ready to face the challenges of winter:
Know your machine
It may seem redundant to say, “know your machine” as you or your crew spend hours on end in in the seat, but familiarizing yourself with the model’s specific recommendations in your machine’s operator’s manual is a must before the winter months. This is the first place to start prior to performing routine maintenance.
Keep it clean
Clean the undercarriage regularly – no matter the task. Equipment can easily gather mud and dirt in the fall months and – if followed by excess snow, salt, and ice in the winter – the buildup can cause serious damage. Ensuring you are going into the winter with a clean piece of equipment will prevent additional buildup on the undercarriage, present any damage or repairs that need to take place before the winter and make regular maintenance tasks easier and quicker.
Key areas to keep clean include the tracks on a compact track loader, around the wheels on tractors and anywhere that an attachment or implement connects to the machine. Dirt, grime and debris on machinery can result in performance and mobility issues, which ultimately slows down work and effectiveness of any job.
Warm it up
As the cold begins to approach, it is important to allow equipment to warm up properly as machine function is better when the engine, hydraulics and drivetrain have time to warm up. This can be a tricky task to get into the habit of post-warm weather months but is necessary to sustain the life of the machine and allow for better operation in the colder months. Additionally, adding a block heater to the machine will decrease warm up time and help starting on the coldest days.
It should be noted that the excessive idling of a piece of equipment isn’t recommended as it consumes fuel. Finding the sweet spot for idle time in the winter is key to eliminating unplanned downtime.
Look under the hood
Daily inspections are critical for machine success in identifying areas of wear that could lead to serious or expensive repairs if unchecked. Check the fluid levels of your machine frequently and for any potential leaks as the cold temperature can be hard on hoses and seals. Other areas to inspect include oil and grease lubrication, coolant, fuel levels, battery function and the undercarriage.
While it is important to check for mechanical problems under the hood, it is equally as important to check that rodents and other animals haven’t deemed this space home. The warmth and shelter provided by the hood can act as a cozy place as temperatures start to fall, causing damage to wires and filling the vents with unwanted debris. Looking under the hood of any piece of equipment is a daily task that could eliminate potential breakdowns and present problems ahead of time.
Keep it indoors
While it may not always be possible, it is suggested that equipment be stored indoors when it is not in use. Housing the equipment inside a shed or building will reduce the winter strain on the equipment, increase the longevity of the battery and have an easier time starting in the morning.
While it may be time consuming, caring for and protecting your equipment through fall and into the winter is a smart investment. Simple tasks such as daily checks and cleanliness will make operation smoother than if these tasks weren’t performed. Adding the option of keeping machinery indoors or warming it up before operating will also enhance operability. In addition to the care of machinery, it is also important to give this same care to attachments and implements that may be used in conjunction with your equipment.
As the cold months approach, now is a good time to begin preparing and planning for your winter maintenance, where you will store your equipment, and if you will need to complete any preventative maintenance before the cold sets in. When it comes to the winter months, being prepared and planning ahead will make all the difference for your operation and your equipment once it’s time to gear up again come spring.
Justin Parrott is product manager, turf & RTV, for Kubota Canada.
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