With the northern hemisphere winter approaching, Case provides tips for good equipment preparation.
Preparation needs to take place regardless of whether one is working in freezing temperatures or storing equipment for the season. Logging-on brings this valuable information over two issues. In this issue we discuss engine maintenance, protecting cooling systems and maintaining the undercarriage.
- Engine Maintenance: The important aspects for the operator’s attention include fuel, lubrication and air filtration. Fuel system maintenance includes cleaning the fuel tank cap/vent and ensuring the cap is functioning properly; checking for water or sediment in the fuel, which is the largest cause of fuel injection system failures; and inspecting the fuel filter. It is also critical to verify the quality of fuel supplied by your provider. Cold weather operations tend to accentuate any fuel quality issues, such as moisture in the fuel or contaminants. Engine oils provide the front line in protecting important engine components. Therefore always follow the equipment manufacturer’s lubricant and change interval recommendations. Inspect the air filtration system for any openings that could draw in unfiltered air and always use the correct replacement filter. Contaminated air is a common cause of premature engine failure. If the machine uses diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), operators must understand that it can freeze and thaw without affecting its ability to function properly. Depending on storage conditions, DEF has a shelf life of one year. If equipment is not being used during the winter, it is best to store equipment indoors in temperature-controlled environments that are out of direct sunlight. Ensure that DEF is stored in an HTPE plastic or stainless steel container, as it is mildly corrosive. DEF can be filled up prior to storage, however, make sure to leave room for expansion. DEF can expand in the winter up to 7 percent and potentially crack the reservoir.
- Protecting Cooling Systems: Cooling systems need to be inspected regularly, including the coolant reservoir and hoses. Machine owners should verify that coolant in the radiator is always filled to the cap, and also inspect the cap for proper relief pressure. Case explains that the coolant does more than just keep the cooling system from freezing. It also prevents corrosion, lubricates shaft seals, increases the boiling point temperature and inhibits cavitation, which is a damaging condition that erodes components. Because of this, coolants should be flushed and replaced at OEM-specified intervals. Machine owners should also check the coolant concentration, which should be maintained at 50 percent. Remember to confirm whether the system uses conventional or OAT coolants and never mix the two.
- Utilising the Undercarriage: Case states that the undercarriage of a machine represents approximately 40 to 60 % of its maintenance costs over the machine’s service life. Operators should make daily inspections and keep it clean of any mud, snow or debris. They must carefully look for loose or worn parts, and refer to the operator’s manual for correct track tensioning and adjustment. Whether operating the machine during the winter or storing it, the undercarriage should be properly inspected once a year.