• 11/11/2022
  • By Doosan Infracore North America LLC
Wheel loaders, like all heavy equipment operated in cold weather, must be winterized. The wheel loader pictured is pushing snow.

As cold weather blows in, now is the best time to prepare your wheel loader for the winter season. Follow these five tips to make sure your machine is properly maintained and prepared to take on snow.

 

Review the operation and maintenance manual

It may seem like common sense, but it can’t be overstated. Review your wheel loader’s Operation & Maintenance Manual for recommended intervals and a checklist of seasonal maintenance items, as well as oil and fluid recommendations. You and your operators should request maintenance training and assistance from your local equipment dealer on proper techniques and familiarize yourself with decals and key maintenance points on the machine.

The Operation & Maintenance Manual will explain which machine components should be regularly inspected. They include the following:

  • Fluids and filters
  • Battery
  • Tire pressure
  • Heating and defrosting systems

If you no longer have a copy of the manual, contact your local dealer for a replacement or access to a digital version.

 

Check fluids and filters

Colder temperatures can affect your wheel loader’s ability to run efficiently, especially if it does not have the proper engine oil. That is why it’s important to match wheel loader fluids to the proper ambient temperatures. Most wheel loader manufacturers recommend CJ4 engine oils to protect the machine’s vital engine components.

Using the incorrect diesel engine oil can cause costly damage to your machine’s internal components. These components can become plugged, corroded and, ultimately, not work efficiently. Refer to your Operation & Maintenance Manual for instructions on filling your wheel loader at the recommended intervals with the appropriate fluid in the correct increments.

Also, verify the quality of diesel fuel you are using from your provider: check to make sure water and other contaminants are not present in your fuel.

Switching to an appropriate fuel — typically No. 1 and No. 2 diesel — can help you prepare for cold temperatures. Investing in quality fuel that is blended appropriately for the climate and season may give you better peace of mind, lower your consumption, provide fewer filter changes and deliver long component life.

Another item to consider when winterizing equipment is the type of after treatment system, especially on machines equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to meet Tier 4 emission standards. SCR components require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). This aqueous solution is susceptible to variations in hot and cold temperatures.
In very cold temperatures, DEF can freeze, so make sure you store DEF properly during the winter months. Purity and concentration are critical with DEF, so work with your local dealer to better understand how to store and handle DEF.

In addition, inspect the air filtration system and always use the correct replacement filter to reduce the risk of premature engine failure.

 

Inspect tires, batteries and components

Winterizing equipment also means checking the tires, batteries and other wheel loader components before using or storing your machine. Undetected leaks or improper inflation can lead to premature wear and potential tire failure over time.

You and your equipment operators should become familiar with the manufacturer’s Operation & Maintenance Manual for proper psi and inflate the tires accordingly

Low tire pressure can decrease push capabilities, which is not ideal for snow removal applications. Using specialized wheel loader snow tires — like the L3 radial tires -– may be best during winter because they provide good traction in snowy conditions. Inflating tires with nitrogen gas is a good alternative to assist in maintaining proper tire pressure.

Before cold weather hits, it is important to inspect the wheel loader’s battery and charge it if needed. There is always a draw on the battery, so unless the battery has been maintained or disconnected while stored, it will slowly run down and will need to be charged before use.

For batteries that need to be charged, a trickle charger can be connected to help build the voltage at a slower rate, improving battery life. Battery connections should also be inspected and cleaned at this time. Corroded terminals can cause hard starting and charging issues.

Additionally, check the cab door and window seals to ensure there are no leaks or cracks, install a new windshield wiper blade and add low-temperature washer fluid. Be sure to replace any burnt-out bulbs to give your operators the appropriate lighting when working in low light or at night.

 

Store the wheel loader inside

In extreme cold, when the temperature falls below zero degrees Fahrenheit, keep your wheel loader in a heated facility; it’s easier on the machine. If you must keep a wheel loader outside, park the machine out of the wind and out of direct sunlight.

If you are unable to keep your wheel loader inside a building, at least plug in the block heater — available as an option. Using a block heater, or engine heater, for winter will help keep the machine’s engine warm, making it easier to start and reducing wear on engine components. Thick, cold fluids can cause damage. Imagine a wheel loader pushing snow, gradually damaging its parts! If you do not have a block heater, consider purchasing and installing one in the fall.

 

Prepare attachments

Winter attachments such as quick couplers, buckets and snow pushers deserve the same attention as the machine. Perform visual checks of such attachment components as hoses, cylinders, guards and cutting edges for damage. Make sure snow pusher attachments interfacing with a bucket are properly secured with chains.

By following these five tips, you can be better prepared to tackle snow drifts and help keep your machine running strong all winter.

 

Ready To Turn Your Wheel Loader Into a Snow Plow?

Plowing snow with your wheel loader can keep your machine profitable long after the year’s construction work ends. Here’s what to know about using a wheel loader for snow removal.