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A guide to challenging climate conditions with a lubricant strategy

From frosted windshields to slow engine idling, we are surrounded by subtle signs of winter’s impending arrival. Businesses that thrive through changing seasons share a few common qualities: the ability to remain cool under pressure, flow with change and sustain value. These are important standards of success for both managing operations and maintaining equipment, both seasonally and year-round.

To keep your business and machines running smoothly through any period takes a maintenance program that helps manage conditions. Perhaps you’re preparing to meet the challenge of working projects during a colder season ahead, or maybe your operations are cooling down alongside the temperature outside. Either way, it is in your hands to ensure your machinery is primed for when it’s on call next.


Lubrication That Prevents Operational Freezes

As any winter construction veteran can attest, keeping parts moving and ensuring proper coverage proves vital for maintaining operations. On the same thread, making proper lubrication a priority will help keep equipment functioning. Engine oil, hydraulic transmission oil, coolant and grease are layers of protection that safeguard equipment from the inside out.

Dropping temperatures can mean machinery working overtime. Stocking top-tier lubricants ensures the moving parts in your engine and transmission withstand these conditions. 

During a cold start, the oil in your engine can become more viscous or even gel-like, making it harder to flow and reach critical engine components. Quality engine oils are designed with low-temperature properties, such as a lower viscosity index, to ensure they remain fluid even in extremely cold conditions. This allows the oil to flow quickly to machine components and offers protection from the moment you start the engine.

Let’s not forget that even in the cold, machinery can overheat. The high power of today’s construction equipment calls for coolant year-round to regulate temperature, optimizing performance no matter the climate. Coolant also aids in helping the engine warm up more quickly — a quality that every operator appreciates on frigid, early mornings at the jobsite.

When choosing a lubricant, construction equipment owners can look to their local equipment manufacturers for expert recommendations on brands of engine oil, hydraulic transmission oil, coolant and grease, which is known as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) choice. OEM lubricants, also called genuine lubricants, are certified to meet performance benchmarks through rigorous in-field testing. 

Even further, these genuine solutions are specially formulated to meet the unique needs of your equipment lineup. Non-OEM fluids carry the risk of compromising the efficiency and productivity of machinery. We know you’re willing to go the extra mile, and so should your lubricant.


Best Practices for Best Results

It’s well-known that construction equipment owners are hardy and there are few things that can stand in their way of getting the job done — not even a snowstorm. However, unplanned machine maintenance can pose a threat to any operation and lead to inconvenient downtime that we all hope to avoid. Follow these five steps to stay on track this winter season:

1. Refer to the Equipment Manual

Make certain that bases are covered by keeping the equipment manual in your back pocket. The manual provides directions on the ideal type of lubricant, viscosity grade, performance standards and suggested service intervals. Be sure to consider the environment and conditions that machinery operates in or will be exposed to.


2. Ensure Proper Storage

Being left in the cold isn’t good for you — or your lubricants. Be sure that your supplies are readily available when needed by storing them in a dry location with moderate temperatures. Keep containers well-sealed to avoid contamination. 

3. Change Filters

Whether you’re parking equipment in the shop for the remainder of the year or gearing up for the homestretch, it’s an opportune time to check fuel filters, engine oil filters and hydraulic transmission oil filters. If your equipment is sitting for an extended duration, used engine oil can settle and cause contaminants to impact engine components when started again. An OEM filter can offer extended protection through winter months, whether your machinery is in use or not.

4. Conduct Routine Inspections


Keep a close eye out for parts showing signs of rust, dulling or damage to determine if repairs or replacements are needed. Clearing debris with an air hose is also a simple but critical step in avoiding issues the next time you start your engine. Just remember, being proactive now saves your equipment from unexpected breakdowns down the road. 

5. Keep Batteries Charged

Batteries can undergo chemical change when temperatures fall or when equipment is sitting over periods of time. Preserve the lifetime of your batteries by disconnecting them from equipment. Alternatively, leverage a battery maintainer to deliver a relatively low and constant voltage that keeps your battery charged for when it’s needed next.


Strength in Numbers

There may be only one driver’s seat, but it can take a whole team to keep a machine operating at peak performance. While there is no doubt that construction equipment owners have an arsenal of horsepower, one of their strongest and often overlooked assets is a reservoir of expert knowledge. No one knows how to care for your equipment better than the ones you’ve trusted to build and maintain it, so your OEM dealer should always be the first stop for expert advice. 

Construction equipment owners can lean on a village of certified technicians for support when it comes time to brave the cold and winter maintenance, from credible resources and deep knowledge to readily available products and services. A solid place to start this season is with a scheduled routine check at your local dealer to ensure machinery is up to date with factory recommended service. Backing your equipment lineup with ground crew support takes pressure off both you and your equipment.

As a construction equipment owner, you might be putting pedal to the metal or revving it down. In both circumstances, preparing equipment for the winter will get you ahead for the next season. Regular maintenance is a small investment to preserve your significant equipment investment. To learn more about winterizing machinery for cold climates as well as lubrication options to withstand extreme conditions, visit your nearest OEM construction equipment dealer.