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Tips for Protecting Your Construction Equipment in Winter

By Leppo Rents
February 7, 2024

Table of Contents

  1. Inspect the Tires
  2. Warm Up the Engine
  3. Examine the Undercarriage
  4. Monitor Fluids
  5. Protect the Batteries
  6. Let Equipment Idle


In winter, your construction machinery, like excavators, loaders, lifts, and tractors, is at greater risk of damage or failure. The cold can be as hard on your machines as on your workers.  

Basic maintenance and practical steps will help protect your equipment, reduce your replacement and repair expenses, and keep your team moving even in the coldest weather. And, as always, if you have questions or need help, contact the maintenance and repair experts at Leppo Rents. 

Let’s consider what you can do to prepare your construction equipment for the bitter cold.  

Basic Maintenance and Upkeep 

One of the best practices for winterization and the preventative maintenance of construction equipment is to wash your equipment regularly. Mud and debris on the undercarriage can freeze on the machine overnight, causing damage to the machine's tracks and interfering with mobility. 

Washing the equipment will also remove salt. Salt buildup often goes undetected and can lead to rust. Cleaning your machines is also an opportunity to do a quick visual inspection of basic wear and tear, letting you get ahead of any equipment maintenance. 

Inspect the Tires 

Tires are responsible for keeping the construction equipment mobile and the project moving ahead even in the harshest weather. However, cold temperatures can have an extreme impact on tires, causing them to drop up to 1 PSI for every 10-degree decrease in temperature. 

Deflated tires are a safety hazard. They can lead to a blowout, seriously injuring the operator. Poorly inflated tires can also impact alignment, steering, traction, and fuel efficiency. Inspect the tires on all equipment daily to prevent injuries and other complications. 

Before starting work, ensure all tires have adequate tread depth and pressure. Look for uneven wear, cracking, and debris. 

Warm Up the Engine 

Warming up the engine is one of the most essential steps to winter equipment maintenance. 

When you start an engine in cold temperatures, the oil can’t circulate effectively, which causes machine parts to run without optimal lubrication. In addition, failing to warm up the engine will delay the time it takes the machine to reach its optimal operating temperature, which could affect the amount of fuel you burn and increase harmful emissions. 

Take steps to warm the engine before starting work. Block warmers are one option, but a heated storage facility or area on the site is another. 

Examine the Undercarriage 

Construction equipment is susceptible to corrosion due to the salt commonly used in cold temperatures. However, one particularly vulnerable area is the equipment undercarriage. The undercarriage includes components that support and propel the machine, wheels, and associated parts. It is one of the most expensive parts of the machine to maintain.  

The undercarriage is regularly exposed to salt and liquid and takes the most damage daily. Moreover, since it is hard to see, the extent of the corrosion can easily go unnoticed and lead to large amounts of rust. To prevent complications, apply a corrosion-resistant coating. You may also apply grease to the exposed metal parts to avoid ice formation. Coating this area will also help the joints and moving parts to operate smoothly. 

Monitor Fluids   

Oil, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), and engine fuel are all fluids that need to be periodically checked and changed, especially during cold weather.   

As part of your winter preventative maintenance, change your oil to high-viscosity oil to ensure the machine works well in low temperatures. Also, ensure hydraulic fluid chambers are cleaned and filled with fresh oil. DEF is also susceptible to freezing if exposed to frigid temperatures and needs regular maintenance during the cold months.  

Check all fuel tanks and fill them up every night if necessary. Filling the tank at night will help eliminate headspace and reduce condensation as the temperatures drop overnight. 

Protect the Batteries 

Cold weather can be damaging to batteries. If you know you're not going to use a piece of equipment during the winter, disconnect the battery and store it in a warm area. This will preserve and protect the battery. 

A substandard battery will result in poor performance, especially during the cold season. Replacing the battery is a good idea if you’ll be using the equipment in winter. This will help protect your equipment in the cold. 

Let Equipment Idle 

Typically, idle time is seen as waste. If you have a machine running but it’s not doing productive work, that’s lost fuel and extra wear on the engine. But, in extreme cold, that idle time can help protect equipment. It’s a good idea to regularly idle equipment in freezing temperatures of -40 to -50 degrees F if you are planning to use it on a jobsite. This will ensure the engine is warm enough to start when you need it.   

An alternative to idling is using auto-start systems, blocks, or air heaters instead of running the machine all night. With a mix of these options, you can monitor the engine temperatures and battery voltage, automatically start the engine to raise the temperature and voltage, and then turn the machine off. They can also keep the engine warm enough to start and use when work starts. 

Prolong the Life of your Construction Equipment  

If you operate equipment in frigid cold, we can help you spot potential issues before they lead to significant problems. Leppo Rents can help you lower maintenance costs, avoid downtime, and prolong the life of your equipment. Contact us today! 


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