As an owner and operator, you understand better than anyone how important it is to maintain the engines that keep your equipment—and your business—up and running throughout the year. This is especially true during the hot summer months, when extended hours at the jobsite can sometimes push construction equipment to the limit.
Recent advancements in technology and design have helped extend service intervals while considerably simplifying engine maintenance. But it is still important to perform some relatively simple preventive measures on a regular schedule to ensure your equipment will continue to run smoothly and efficiently for as long as possible. As you operate your equipment during the summer months, consider the following engine maintenance tips that are critical to peak performance. These best practices will help keep your engines performing at their best throughout such a demanding season.
1. Get fuel smart
One of the easiest, quickest ways to damage gas-powered construction equipment is by using old fuel or fuel that has not been recommended for use. An effective tip is to only use fresh gas in the engine at all times. Stored fuel is likely to have broken down during the colder months—or after periods of inactivity—and can go bad in as little as 30 days. Instead, purchase gas in smaller quantities and store it in clean, sealed containers. It is also important to make sure the fuel you are using does not have too much ethanol, which causes the engine to run poorly. Most engines can only accept up to a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10). Any amount of ethanol will pull moisture from the air if not stored in a sealed container. This can cause buildup within the engine, as well as corrosion, which can prevent your equipment from
2. Check the air filter
Industrial engines are now equipped with heavy-duty filters that are built to perform over an extended period of time. However, most filters still need to be replaced annually to continue providing optimum performance. It is especially important to remain mindful of the air filter during the warmer months when dust, dirt and debris are dryer and more likely to clog the filter faster. During the summer, be sure to check your air filter on a regular basis to ensure it is functioning correctly.
3. Keep it clean
In addition to inspecting and replacing the air filters, the fuel filter and engine itself should be inspected regularly. A clogged fuel filter will significantly decrease the engine’s fuel efficiency and performance. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, but a good rule of thumb is to change the filter every 200 hours. Also, after each use, be sure to remove any dirt or loose debris with compressed air, which may have accumulated on the engine during the day.
4. Check the oil
When it comes to maintaining the oil in your engines, there are two key factors to consider. First, make sure you are using the oil type and weight recommended by the manufacturer. Second, be sure to frequently check the oil level. Typically, an oil change is recommended every 100 hours or so, but equipment used several hours during the heat of each day may go through oil faster and, therefore, may need to be changed more frequently. Failure to check the oil could result in the engine overheating. Finally, it is recommended that you replace the oil filter at every other oil change, but keep in mind that severe conditions, including summer heat and extended use, may call for more frequent changes.
5. Cool it down
While oil is widely considered the lifeblood of an engine, coolant also plays a vital role in liquid-cooled engines by helping dispel heat. Without proper levels of coolant, the heat produced during equipment use has the potential to quickly cause damage. Maintaining proper levels of coolant in your engines is especially important during warm-weather conditions to avoid overheating. It is recommended that you change the coolant every 2 years or 1,000 hours, as well as inspect the cooling systems components, including the radiator, water pump and thermostat, to ensure they are free of corrosion and functioning as intended.
The overall lifespan and performance of your equipment depends on your team’s commitment to maintaining it. A preventive maintenance program is the smartest way to keep your equipment powered up and ready to go, especially during the summer months. Don’t skip regular maintenance, and be sure to dedicate the time necessary to regularly inspect crucial engine components. Doing so will ensure a well-maintained engine that will help keep your revenue flowing and your equipment performing during these hectic days when downtime is simply not an option.