It sure can get incredibly hot over the summer months, and it’s not just workers who suffer under the heat. Extreme temperatures can affect your heavy equipment too, leading to overheating and even full breakdowns. To help you keep your construction, agriculture, or other machinery running smoothly this summer, here are Equipment Trader’s 12 tips for summer equipment maintenance.
1. Keep Up Regular Maintenance
No matter the season, the most well-functioning equipment capable of working through extreme weather is going to the machinery that is consistently well-maintained. Keep up regular preventative inspections and maintenance throughout the summer months, paying attention to…
- tires (which can overinflate in the heat),
- fluid levels,
- and general equipment cleanliness.
2. Clean the Radiator
Just like death and taxes, it’s a guarantee that farming and construction equipment will get dirty. All that dust, dirt, pollen, and other particles can create a thick layer on your machinery’s radiator that blocks the heat exchange needed to keep the engine and other systems at the right temperature. Regularly clean your equipment’s radiator by blowing dirt and debris away with an air compressor (using a water hose can push particles to the bottom of the radiator, where it can build up and cause bigger problems).
3. Maintain Coolant Fluid Levels
At the beginning of the summer season, swap out your coolant to make sure no sludge has built up inside the system and check your coolant hoses. Then, at the start of each day throughout the summer, be sure to check each machine’s antifreeze/coolant (AF/C) levels, using the fluids specified by the OEM in the owner’s manual. An imbalanced ratio of coolant to water can cause various engine problems, so maintain appropriate levels to keep your equipment cool this season.
4. Inspect Fans and Belts
Heavy equipment often moves slowly, or remains in place entirely, meaning that natural air flow through the engine can range from weak to nonexistent. To accommodate for this reality, many pieces of equipment have large fans that pass air over the machinery’s cooling systems. At the start of summertime, and regularly throughout the season, inspect your equipment’s fan and fan drive belt to ensure they’re fully functioning and effectively protecting your machinery from extreme heat.
5. Charge the Batteries
With so many other components affected by summer heat, like tire inflation and coolant levels, it can be easy to forget about equipment batteries. However, extreme heat can cause already-weak batteries to malfunction. Avoid potential summertime battery issues by keeping batteries charged and electrolytes at appropriate levels.
6. Avoid the Hottest Hours
Peak daylight hours in the midst of summer are not only dangerous for your workers. Equipment operation during this time can risk overheating the machinery. It might not be feasible to totally stop all work during this time, but keep equipment operation during heat advisories to a minimum. Your equipment and your employees will be better off for it.
7. Use Equipment for Its Intended Purpose
Your machinery is already being pushed to the max during busy summer workdays. If you force the equipment to endure the additional strain of terrain or inclines it was never meant to handle, or attaching parts or accessories not designed for that specific machine, you could very well push it past its breaking point (while also voiding its warranties). At all times, but especially during extreme heat, only use your heavy equipment within its intended capacities.
8. Check the A/C System
Before summer heats up, have your fleet mechanic check and, if necessary, repair your equipment A/C systems. Then, each week throughout the season, do a quick check to make sure your A/C and cabin intake filters are clean. During operation, avoid having doors open or windows down while running the A/C, as it puts unnecessary demand on the system and parts.
9. Watch the Displays
When working during the hottest summer heat, keep a close eye on your machinery’s displays, paying particular attention to any temperature indicators. Those displays are often your first sign that equipment is approaching the point of overheating. If it needs to cool down, immediately stop operation and park it under nearby shade if available.
10. Allow for Extra Cool Down Time
If your machinery has been operated all day in extreme heat, give units an additional few minutes to cool off and cycle down. The equipment’s turbo charger rotates at extremely high RPM, especially when the machinery has been worked hard, which heats it up quite a bit. For oil to continue to be supplied to the charger as it idles down, the engine needs to remain on. If you shut off the engine too quickly, you can cause damage to the turbo charger shafts and bearings.
11. Refill the Fuel and DEF Tanks
After shutting equipment down, be sure to refill the fuel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tanks. By the end of a workday, those fluids can be very hot and that heat can draw in moisture from the air, especially during humid summer months. Even a small amount of water mixed in with your fuel or DEF can create performance and maintenance problems, and will force you to drain the fuel-water separator more often. Avoid these issues by refilling your tanks at the end of each summer day.
12. Store in the Shade
Once equipment has cooled and cycled down, and you’ve performed any necessary checks, it’s time to store it. Never leave your machinery out in direct sunlight if you can help it. At minimum it should be left in the shade or under a tarp, but ideally you’ll be able to store your equipment indoors.
Conclusion: The work you do is already tough, and it gets even harder under the intense summer sun. That heat can impact your machinery too, so be sure to follow these summer equipment maintenance tips to optimize their performance throughout the season. And if you’re looking for your next piece of heavy machinery for construction, agriculture, or other work, check out the nationwide selection of inventory available for-sale and for-rent on EquipmentTrader.com and on our sister site RockAndDirt.com.