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Posted: 11/20/2015

Cold Weather 101 Checklist

Changes to engine technologies and diesel fuel bring about benefits, challenges for cold weather operation


Ongoing improvements to engines and diesel fuel have helped reduce emissions and contributed to cleaner air. Today, we have cleaner and more efficient diesel engines in Bobcat® compact equipment. The High-Pressure Common-Rail (HPCR) technology used on our larger engines uses extremely precise components that demand clean fuel — to maintain emissions levels and provide long component life.

The Bobcat fuel filter used on these engines is highly effective at trapping down to 2 micron contaminants and removing free and emulsified water. Purchasing fuel that is clean, dry and blended for the current climate is step one to protect your uptime. And keep in mind — the cleaner the fuel that you purchase, the longer your machine’s fuel filter will last.

Changes to diesel fuel that are outside of our control present some challenges, not only for Bobcat compact equipment but all equipment manufacturers, particularly with cold weather operation. Ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) has played a role in our emissions strategy and has helped us achieve our emission goals; however, its chemistry presents some issues. Lowering sulfur amounts in diesel fuel also removes most nitrogen and oxygen compounds and increases saturates, which increases the tendency of fuel to gel. Much of the chemistry added to replace the benefits of sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen has a significant impact on how water acts in fuel, making it harder for diesel fuel suppliers to consistently provide fuel that performs as well in cold climates.

Be prepared: Follow this 6-step checklist
We want you and your operators to be successful this winter. You can help improve your cold weather capability by following these steps.

  1. Purchase diesel fuel from the best possible supplier.
    • Verify the fuel’s cleanliness by asking key questions such as “What micron level of filtration is used on your delivery lines?” and “Do you have a winter blend available and what is the temperature rating?”
  2. Follow bulk diesel fuel storage procedures.
    • Verify your tank is clean and has a proper tank vent filter.
    • Verify your tank outlet filters contaminants to 10 micron or less and filters free and emulsified water. As a point of reference, a grain of salt is 100 microns.
    • Use a higher percentage of winter blend fuel and start using it earlier in the season.
    • If using biodiesel, completely purge it from the tank well before the cold season, if possible.
  3. When starting, always turn the machine ON and wait for the glow cycle to complete (engine preheat icon on instrument panel goes OFF) prior to cranking the engine. 
    • Doing this will provide quicker starts and avoid the panel displaying “COLD” and limiting engine speed unless truly necessary.
  4. Use cold weather best practices.
    • Follow all the starting and cold starting procedures listed in the Bobcat Operation & Maintenance Manual.
    • Remove any trapped water from your machine’s fuel filter daily.
    • Maintain your machine’s battery state of charge for optimum cranking speed.
    • Install and use an engine block heater.
    • Choose the best engine oil and hydraulic/hydrostatic oil for the temperature conditions.
  5. Purchase a spare fuel filter for every machine you own with an interim Tier 4 (iT4) and Tier 4 HPCR engine; keep it on the job.
    • Avoid using another brand of fuel filter.
    • Avoid prefilling a new filter during installation, as unfiltered fuel could potentially harm the fuel system.
  6. Purchase a fuel test kit and other cold weather machine accessories through your Bobcat dealership and its parts department if needed.
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