Cold Weather Heavy Equipment Maintenance


As winter approaches, it’s important to think about how the cold weather can affect your heavy equipment. The cold can take its toll on your engine and components, which could lead to expensive damage if you don’t take the right steps in heavy equipment maintenance.

Equipment Inspection Checklist for Cold Weather 

We made it easy for you by creating a heavy equipment inspection checklist when operating your machine in the winter months.

Use the Right Fuel

We recommend only using high quality winter diesel fuel in order to prevent gelling in low temperatures. If gelling occurs, it can clog fuel lines and filters, preventing fuel from reaching the engine. You should also add fuel conditioner that matches the type of fuel you are using (e.g., low sulfur). Only use fuel conditioner that is approved by the manufacturer. 

Inspect Your Starting Devices

A key part of our heavy equipment maintenance checklist for cold weather is to make sure block heaters and cold weather starting devices are working properly before temperatures start to drop. Failure to do so could result in your engine not starting when you need it. 

Warm Up the Engine Before Working

Make sure to let your machines warm up properly before you start using them. Failure to do so will harm your equipment’s performance and may lead to costly component damage. 

Always Have a Spare Fuel Filter on Hand

We recommend keeping an extra fuel filter in the equipment cab in case you need it. When replacing fuel filters, be sure to follow installation instructions in your operator’s manual.

Watch Out for Ice Buildup

Always check for any ice or snow buildup in the exhaust or intake areas, and be sure to remove any that you find before beginning each shift. You should also clear ice or snow build up from throttle and brake area.

Idle to Improve Steering Response

Machines with hydraulic steering may become very slow at low temperatures, even when the correct oils are used. Once the equipment is started, let the machine idle until the engine reaches operating temperature.

Be Careful in Slippery Conditions

Always mount and dismount your machine using three points of contact. Slipping on snow and ice is a common cause of injury during the winter months. Wear your seatbelt when operating equipment and stay alert.

Don’t Forget About Your Stored Equipment 

Equipment inspection and maintenance in cold weather conditions is important for the longevity and performance of your heavy equipment. Consider the following to minimize cold-related damage:

  • Start equipment once a month, only when temperature is above freezing
  • Avoid starting a machine in extreme cold weather, as it can damage the components 
  • Operate hydraulics for a brief time once the equipment is warmed up
  • Do not try to break crawler type machines from a badly frozen situation, as it could result in damage

Preventing Expensive Damage: Heavy Equipment Maintenance

As the winter season approaches, it’s important to stay on top of heavy equipment maintenance. Not prioritizing this could result in expensive damage. Our equipment inspection checklist lays out the steps you should take to make sure that your equipment is ready for the cold so that you can extend it’s longevity.

If you have any questions about our heavy equipment checklist for cold weather, contact our team at Columbus Equipment today!