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Common Machinery Mistakes After a Long, Cold Winter

Megan WildWhen spring comes around, the work you do starts to change. Now is the time to start hauling out some of the big guns — and some of them may not have been used all winter!

Depending on where you are, that could mean your large equipment has sat idle for months. If you leave anything sitting long enough, you’re bound to run into some problems. Those issues can be exacerbated if you don’t take some precautions. Fortunately, those steps are pretty reasonable and common-sense. Here are the common problems:

Tractor in wheat field

Source: Pexels

Failing to Do a Full Check

Check everything out before you start work. You don’t want to get out there and realize you have no heat in the cab! Make sure you double-check anything you’ll need, even if it’s something as simple as a radio.

It's also easy to forget the filter and tires, but both of those things really need a double-check. Tires frozen to the ground can be irreparably damaged, especially if they get ripped straight up. Most of those tires cost a pretty penny, so try to protect them. Your air filters also need to be checked. Contaminated air from outside the vehicle can cause engine failure. So check and replace any air filter that’s damaged or dirty. Otherwise, you'll be stuck getting nothing done until you do.

Be Careful When Fueling and Charging the Battery

These are two aspects that can be dangerous. If you’re getting everything ready when it’s still cold, you need to take extra precautions. Fueling can be more dangerous than usual, especially if you have contaminants in the tank like water or snow that can eventually ruin your engine. Getting water in your fuel tank can also lead to your engine stalling out, so take care to keep it covered!

The same goes for the battery. You should never attempt to charge a frozen battery. This can cause it to explode, which is something no one wants. If you’re doing the check with someone else, which is a good idea, always let them know when you’re getting ready to charge the battery. Safety comes first!

Not Having a PPM Program

“PPM” stands for “planned preventative maintenance.” This is something that pretty much all large machines can benefit from, even if they're used year-round. For those that are only used seasonally, however, it's vital. You want to set up a strict maintenance routine and stick to it. That means regular oil changes, tire rotations and changes, and checks on bolts, nuts, electrical wires, and hoses. You don't want to be stuck in the middle of a field with a broken hose.

Even when you aren’t actively using your equipment, you still need to do maintenance. It doesn’t have to be daily, but checking on it regularly can prevent major problems before they start. For example, making sure the coolant concentration is a steady 50 percent will help keep your engine ready to start up.

Forgetting to Let It Warm Up Thoroughly

The engine and hydraulics may warm up quickly, but the hoses and wires can take a bit longer. Trying to make them move while they’re still cold and brittle can make them break. If you’re starting and it’s cold out, your engine can already run smoothly. However, if you get up and go without letting the rest of the engine warm up as well, you’ll just break something.

The issue is that you’re dealing with more complicated machinery than just a car. Replacement parts are not cheap, so this is a really important aspect. It goes doubly if you’re a new homesteader or farmer and you may not be able to fix the part yourself.

Not Doing a Daily Inspection

When you are using your machinery, it’s really important to check it each day before you use it. A full physical inspection before you head out can stop you from running into issues or worsening one that already exists. So each day, check the hoses, wires, tires, connections, fluid levels, and battery electrolyte levels.

Once you’re all ready to go, just take a quick trip around the area you plan to work. Keep an eye out for any potential hazards. It’ll be much easier to make a mental note of them and come back to get them taken care of. Otherwise, just remember that prevention is the best medicine. It’s also a lot cheaper