With cold weather coming, it’s a good idea before you put machinery away for the winter to check the antifreeze. Even if you’re not sure you’ve got it.
“Anymore, even with the lawnmowers and all the way on up to tractors, a lot of them are liquid cooled machines,” explained Randy Hoffman of Ozark Power Center, a full line outdoor power equipment dealer in Springfield, Mo. “A person definitely needs to make sure that you’ve got the antifreeze to accommodate the below zero temperatures that we might have, which prevents any cracking of blocks or heads, or damage done by freezing.”
Robert Adrian of Adrian Farm Supply in Tahlequah, Okla., said owners should check their maintenance records to see how long it’s been since the antifreeze has been replaced. “If it’s been a year or two they need to think about replacing that antifreeze,” he told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, “flushing the system and making sure everything is clean and ready to go to work next spring.”
Hoffman also recommended equipment owners check oil for contamination with water, which can damage lines if it freezes, and both fuel and filters for contamination as well. “As it gets colder, that water will freeze up in the filters and the machine will not run,” he told OFN. “And also, a guy needs to be looking at putting an additive in for the winter to keep it from gelling, which is when the fuel gets real cold it gets thick, the pumps can’t pump it, and the machines cannot function.”
Hoffman said the fuel tank should be kept full for the winter, to ward off condensation or frost inside the tank. “As it warms up, it goes back and forth,” he said. “It’ll actually cause enough water in your fuel to cause damage.”
If equipment is not going to be used at all in the winter, Hoffman said it’s a good idea to remove the battery cables.
“If the lens on your fuel cap is cracked and we get into the fall with a lot of rain, you could have water in your fuel and not even know it,” he said. “In the spring you’ll start it up and take off and the next thing, everything will slow down on you and maybe even quit running, because there’s so much contamination from water.”
And it’s a good idea to lube up before you store. “When something’s properly greased, it not only lubricates it but it also pushes out the dirt, dust and junk that’s been gathered up in there since the last time you greased it,” he said. “Your surfaces are covered; you don’t have to worry about rust.”
Adrian said before off-road vehicles are stored, owners should check the front and rear ends and the transfer cases. “So many of them get immersed in creeks and water for one reason or another, and mud,” he said, that owners need to ensure, “that the CV boots are intact and in good shape – no mud caked into anything that is going to cause a problem. The CV boots tend to deteriorate over time, and once they deteriorate and let water in, the joints fail pretty early.”