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The effects of cold on your construction machine
Whether it is cold or hot, construction sites take place all year round. The cold of winter is already here and the construction machines, although they are designed to work in difficult conditions, are not spared from the cold and bad weather.
The battery, the first victim of the cold.
In the early morning, as soon as the work begins, the machine does not start, the engine coughs slightly but refuses to start. The battery is often battered by the low winter temperatures and no longer provides enough power to the starter. Indeed, as on a car, the cold will reduce the efficiency of the battery and thus reduce the starting power. The battery will be more stressed in winter: rain, fog and an earlier setting sun will push the construction equipment operator to use the headlights more often than in other seasons. Another joy of nature in winter: freezing, indeed the defrost option will also pump energy from the battery.
Recognize the symptoms of a tired battery
Do you want to know if it is necessary to change your battery? Here are the first symptoms of a battery to change:
First, on most newer machines, the dashboard will tell you that a battery is discharged. Then, you can notice it yourself if you notice any difficulties at the start. Then you can see that the headlights of the construction machine illuminate less than usual or you can see a decrease in the intensity of the lighting when you use your machine.
Codimatra tips for your battery
Fully charge your battery! As seen in the paragraph above, headlights and other options will impact battery power. Use your voltmeter to check that the battery voltage is around 24 volts. Also check the levels, and if they are too low complete with demineralized water.
Can the malfunction come from the alternator?
Reminder: The electrical equipment of your construction machine is powered by the battery when your machine is stopped. But when the engine is running, the alternator takes over while recharging the battery.
Therefore, the poor performance of your battery may be due to a malfunction of the alternator. The alternator belt can retract in cold weather. A worn belt will emit a shrill sound when starting or operating.
If the energy produced by the latter is not sufficient to power your battery, here is what to do:
- Check the condition of the alternator belt, if it frays, it may break prematurely, replace it.
- Change alternator. We have a large stock of alternators for loaders and excavators but also for trucks.
The pilot start, a miracle product to start your engine?
The pilot start is an aerosol reputed to start the engine instantly regardless of the weather conditions. Commonly used on cars, it can also be used on construction machines, industrial machines and even agricultural machines. It adapts to all types of engines because its operation is quite simple: a single second spray at the inlet of the air filter will bring the mixture into the intake valve and into the combustion chamber, making the air and fuel mixture more combustible, allowing the engine to start immediately. Certainly, it is not the "miracle" product in the long term but it is very useful to start your engine in case of a hard blow in these cold winter mornings.
Checking the coolant
The coolant used on construction machinery contains antifreeze properties that allow the liquid to resist up to a certain temperature. Over time, the coolant may lose its antifreeze properties. To find out the glycol content, the liquid must be taken from the radiator with a density meter. The graduated float will indicate the minimum temperature before freezing. We recommend that you use coolant resistant to a temperature of -15° or -20° degrees.
In summer, do not raise the liquid level with pure water. Always use a coolant with antifreeze properties because once winter comes, the coolant will freeze at temperatures higher than those indicated on the can. The frozen liquid increases in volume and can cause cracks in the engine head, block the water pump, and cause the radiator to burst. In any case, it is advisable to change your coolant every two to three years.
Checking engine oil, oil filter and transmission oil
Is it difficult to start the construction machine? The cold also has an effect on the oil, of course it does not freeze but it becomes less fluid and thicker. This places even greater demands on the battery and starter motor. As a result, the engine oil and oil filter often need to be changed.
The transmission oil also becomes thicker, which causes transmission difficulties and must be changed regularly.
If you operate in a very cold environment you will need to adjust the viscosity of your engine oils, transmission oils and greases.
How to read an engine oil grade?
20W50, 15W40, 0W30 ? how to find your way around?
The first number indicates the cold viscosity the lower it is, the more fluid the oil is in cold weather
The letter W stands for "Winter" for all-season oils.
The second figure represents the hot viscosity: i.e. its ability not to liquefy and evaporate.
Oil tankers and manufacturers supply hydraulic oils and equipment greases specially designed for extreme temperatures
Use protected fuel
Fuel oil is sensitive to low temperatures. Petroleum product distributors generally supply additive fuels between 15 November and mid-March. Remember to purge your fuel filters and tanks of condensation water. An ice cube can block the fuel supply.
The equipment also suffers from the cold
With frozen ground, earthworks are more difficult. In some countries and regions of France, the ground is frozen deeper down. The steel of the equipment breaks on the ground and shakes in the cabins of construction machinery. You can find buckets and other reinforced equipment on Codimatra.