The calendar has flipped to December which brings Christmas music (yay!) and, inevitably, colder weather (boo!). But just because it’s cold outside on the farm or ranch the work does not stop. Whether it’s pushing snow or bedding or feeding the animals, cold weather brings a new set of challenges for the tasks to get done.
Operating your tractor in the cold winter months keeps you out of the elements, but caring for that unit when the temperature drops is critical for its longevity.
Joel Hoehn, divisional service manager with Rocky Mountain Equipment, says that there are several things you need to consider for winter care of Tier 4 engines, specifically:
- Warm-up time: In the past, you would let your tractor idle for 30 minutes before you started operating, but with Tier 4 that “warm up” time is much shorter. These systems allow a certain amount of time to warm up before these emissions systems kick in. Therefore you should start the engine and then put it to work. You need to get that exhaust and coolant temperature up for the system to work properly.
- Lubricants: To assist in the shorter warm up time, use synthetic engine and hydraulic oil especially on loader tractors during the winter months.
- Minimize mid-day idling: The best practice is to shut the machine down because the exhaust system will retain heat for that 30 minute lunch.
- Plug the machine in: You have a circulating block heater, a basic heater, and a hydraulic heat maintainer. Remember that for that hydraulic heat maintainer the oil must already be warm when you plug it in because it only holds the temperature.
- Careful blocking off the front of the machine: These new machines are designed to compensate for fluctuations in temperatures, but in extreme low temperatures it may make sense to partially obstruct air flow. It’s critical to not fully block the incoming airflow because as the external air temperature rises you may forget to remove the obstruction and cause damage to your engine.