7 winter machinery tips | Living the Country Life

7 winter machinery tips

Make sure your equipment is taken care of for the cold weather and know the risks of using machinery in winter.
  • Use a slow trickle charger

    A low amperage charger, also known as a slow trickle charger, is a great option for keeping batteries that aren't regularly used from dying. Unlike normal battery chargers, slow trickle chargers don't jolt batteries with any more amps than they need. Trickle chargers maintain the amount of energy in the battery without giving it more than necessary.

    Plug the charger into an outlet when it's connected to the battery posts and leave it there. Consider getting a trickle charger that turns itself on and off as needed.

    The size of battery depends on many factors, such as the manufacturer, the amount of energy needed to sustain the battery, and the size of the machine.  Most equipment will have a regular 12-volt battery, but make sure to check yours before making any purchases.


    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014
  • Try tire chains

    Heavy tractors have more traction because of their weight, but more lightweight tractors can perform much better with tire chains. If the right ones are purchased, plowing, pushing, and blowing snow could become much easier.

    Having the right tire chains is crucial because chains expand as you drive from the centrifugal force. Work closely with your local dealer to find the chains that are specific to your tire size and manufacturer. Depending on your tire size, chains can range from $500 to $700.

    Easily attach chains to your tires by attaching them, laying them out in front of the tractor, and driving over them. Don't forget to check for twisted links! Wrap the chains around the tires and you're all set.

    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014
  • Prevent gelled fuel

    Fuel begins to gel when the wax that is in all diesel fuel begins to crystallize in cold temperatures. This creates a blockage in the fuel filter and the engine to stop working. 

    Run your machine every two days to keep the fuel from gelling. If that isn't an option for you, make sure to at least keep the tank all the way full to avoid water getting in and creating issues. Never try using gasoline or alcohol as gelling preventatives. Ask your diesel supplier for a fuel conditioner recommendation, instead.

    Be sure you're using winter diesel, which typically has less wax in anticipation of gelling issues. It also has helpful additives.

    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014
  • Do an antifreeze check

    Antifreeze is important to monitor since it keeps water from freezing up in the radiator. Use a hydrometer to find out the freezing point of the fluid and be sure you have right level of temperature protection. 

    When the engine is completely cool, check the overflow bottle and also remove the radiator cap and peek inside to make sure coolant is present. Look for a bright green or fluorescent yellow liquid in the overflow container, which indicates a healthy radiator. If the antifreeze is watery or the color of rust, you may need to flush and clean the radiator before adding coolant. If there is some liquid in the overflow bottle, it may be residual. Feel free to top it off with some fresh antifreeze.

    Flushing your radiator every two years is recommended. Also, check for leaks in hoses and clamps and make any necessary repairs.

    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014
  • Use the right oil for you

    Lower viscosity oil performs better in cold weather. It allows the engine to warm up faster and provides the proper lubrication needed in chilly temperatures. Using heavier viscosity oil in winter will shorten the life of your engine.

    Lower oil numbers indicate thinner oils. The "W" beside an oil label means it is designed for winter use, specifically. For instance, 5-W oil is made for winter and very thin. 

    Change oil more frequently during the winter because water may condense and end up compromising the oil. The engine will suffer if you use the same oil weight all year and avoid additives since they ruin the chemical balance of oil.

    Refer to your owner's manual to find the specific oil weight requirements and temperature charts to understand what's right for you.

    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014
  • Warm up your engine

    There are several types of engine heaters, but the block engine heater is a very effective option. There is generally a plug on the side of the engine block that can be easily removed. Insert the heater there to heat the coolant and block. 

    Rather than leave your engine heater plugged in 24 hours a day, buy an inexpensive 24-hour timer and have the timer turn on the heater two hours before using the machine. Energy costs will go down. 

    The wattage needed depends on the size of the engine. A small tractor generally need about 400 to 600 watts. A larger piece of equipment will need around 1000 to 1200 watts.

    Don't forget to unplug your heater before driving away!

    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014
  • Winter risks for tractors

    Icy conditions don't have the same scare factor for tractors as they do for regular vehicles, but ice can be dangerous for heavy machinery, too. Make sure to have a full tank of gas, working lights, and a fully-charged battery when working in winter.

    When on an incline, tractors run an even higher risk of tipping over in icy conditions. Be mindful that braking may be difficult with poor traction and that a big load will contribute to momentum forward.

    There is a much higher risk of having an accident when visibility is poor and work is being hurried. Darkness and fatigue are also contributing factors.

    Date Published: December 13, 2013
    Date Updated: April 4, 2014

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