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When You Can’t Beat the Heat, Manage It
August 20, 2021
Written By Cody Baumert
“It really wouldn’t be that hot if it wasn’t for the humidity.” Anyone who has ever visited the Midwest between May and September has more than likely heard this saying.
I’ve always found myself of the mindset that hot is hot, humidity aside. Our gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles and equipment are affected by the heat as well. To minimize downtime and continue to be productive, it is up to us as owners and operators to manage the heat and how it affects our equipment. Here are a few tips to help manage the summer heat in our equipment and keep it running.
1. Monitor your engine coolant and cooling system to manage the heat.
Managing your coolant is the most crucial step to manage the heat in your vehicles and equipment. Some estimates have shown that up to 40% of equipment downtime is due to cooling system failures or improper care. Not all, but most engine coolant has a lifespan; therefore, a vehicle manufacturer may have a recommendation to replace engine coolant every 50,000 miles or so in your owner’s manual. Over time, the additives and corrosion inhibitors within engine coolant become less effective, leaving an opportunity for failure within the system.
Products like Final Charge Global (available through your local MFA Oil bulk plant) can ease your cooling system anxiety. It is rated to maintain additive properties up to 1 million miles or 20,000 hours run time. Even with such technology built into the coolants we can choose today, other potential cooling systems problems are possible.
Maintaining the proper level of whichever coolant you decide to use is essential. Some coolant typically level dissipates over time due to temperature changes within an engine and the outside air. Simply making sure your coolant overflow tank is filled before a long drive or a hard day’s work with a piece of equipment should be routine during the summer months.
A simple inspection of cooling system hoses and clamps for wear, cuts, abrasions, or swelling should also be standard practice. A $10 radiator hose replacement could save you thousands of dollars if the component fails and goes unnoticed during use.
One of the easiest but most overlooked preventative maintenance practices is checking your radiator cap. The cap maintains the pressure within the cooling system. Like other cooling system components, your radiator cap can fail over time, leading to an escape route for coolant within your engine’s cooling system. If you continually feel like you are adding coolant to your radiator or overflow tank, have your radiator cap pressure tested and replace it if necessary. It can save you both money in coolant loss and potential downtime if a cooling system failure occurs.
2. Inspect your battery and battery cables.
Contrary to popular belief, heat is more degrading to your battery than cold. You should visually inspect your batteries and battery cables at least monthly during peak use months. Temperature changes can cause battery cells to swell, which gives us a clear visual indication of potential issues. If your battery has swollen, replace it as soon as possible.
Humidity can also lead to corrosion of battery terminals and battery cable connectors. If you observe decay on your battery terminals or cables, take care of it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to drop a couple of hundred bucks on a new battery. If the battery’s health is fine internally, all it needs is cleaning. Wipe the terminals with a battery cleaning product and finish it off with a terminal protector coating. This is a quick and easy way to ensure a proper connection and aid in the equipment’s starting ability.
3. Check your tires.
For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit that outside air temperature increases, the PSI in your tires increases by one. Most tire blowouts occur during the warmer summer months. Especially on heavy equipment with bigger tires, a blowout can be both costly and dangerous. Most equipment and vehicle manufactures recommend checking for proper tire inflation before each use. Inspect the tires and adjust tire pressure when necessary. Your local Big O Tires offers complimentary air pressure checks. Regularly checking the air pressure will also help you maximize your fuel efficiency.
4. Verify your engine oil level and ensure that it’s the proper lubricant for the job.
Our engine oil is our first line of defense against lowering the overall operating temperature of our vehicles and equipment. Any time an engine is running, it is creating friction and, in turn, heat. Ensuring the engine oil is at the appropriate level and the correct viscosity grade for the application is in use is critical in maintaining proper internal engine temperature. Engine oil disperses heat from the active components within an engine, allowing them to run cooler. It is imperative to monitor oil levels when the outside air temperature is hotter during the summer to mitigate the risk of costly failures.
Most equipment manufacturers recommend multi-grade oil viscosities, eliminating the need to change products throughout the year based on temperature. If you wonder what lubricant your vehicle or equipment manufacturer recommends, lubeadvisor.mfaoil.com can help you quickly find the answer.
Following these tips can help you manage the effects of scorching summer temperatures. So even if you can’t beat the heat, you can manage it and prevent major problems.