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Winter Maintenance Tips
By Jack Boken, Manager,
Product Support Operations, John Deere Construction & Forestry Division
Equipment maintenance is always good practice, but it becomes downright crucial in Northwestern winters when temperatures consistently register below freezing.
During that kind of weather, it makes sense to pay particular attention to fuel filtration systems, batteries, fluid specifications, diesel-fired heaters, and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Here are some specific tips that can maximize the uptime of your fleet now that Old Man Winter is here:
- Fill fuel tanks each night to lessen the chance of condensation build up.
- Drain the fuel tank regularly to stop the build-up of water.
- Check the engine breather tube regularly, watching for blockages.
- Replace fuel filters throughout the winter according to the normal service interval as noted in the operator’s manual.
- Inspect battery life at regular intervals to avoid a non-start and downtime.
- Change the engine oil about every 250 hours and make sure to use lighter engine oil, such as a 530, which is more suitable for cold weather.
- Check antifreeze levels and make sure they’re topped off.
- Inspect the ice lugs or corks on your tracked machines.
- Check out lubricant levels and top off.
- Measure and adjust track tension — it’s as important in winter as in summer.
- Inspect the chains on your wheeled machines to ensure they’re undamaged and properly adjusted for the ground conditions.
- Remember that tire pressures still need to be checked regularly in the winter.
- Be sure to use the correct grease — one that can be pumped in cold weather.
- Though it sounds strange, make sure the air conditioning is functioning and keep the belt on. Air conditioning is actually working when the defroster is on, drying out the air to prevent frost on the inside of the windows.
- Machine structures are more likely to crack and endure stress due to the extreme cold. When it comes to the inspection of the frame, pins, and bushing areas, it’s a good idea to have your dealer complete a thorough inspection of the machine.
If you have equipment on a preventative maintenance program, be sure your dealer pulls all of the machine dipsticks and checks oil levels. This not only confirms that oil is present in each required reservoir or housing, but also allows the tech the opportunity to find any problems that might be brewing with fan belts, transmission hoses, radiators, and harnesses.
Of course you can follow the same procedure yourself in your shop or in the woods.