How to Prep Skid-Steer Loaders for Winter Work

Published on November 24, 2014

Winter is no time to park your skid-steer loader, and let it sit idle until warmer weather. Give it a winter workout with attachments that can turn it into your favorite snow removal machine.

But before tackling snow piles and icy sidewalks, winterize your skid-steer loader and other compact equipment so they’re running at their best.

Refer to your owner’s manual for a complete checklist of seasonal maintenance items. (Missing a Bobcat manual? Download one here). Some of the major areas to check are:

  • Fluids, oils and fuels
  • Tire pressure
  • Battery
  • Attachments
  • Cold-climate comfort features

Check Fluids, Oils and Fuels

Check fluids and refer to your operation and maintenance manual for instructions on filling your machine with the correct fluid in the correct increments. When the temperature drops, it’s important to have an engine oil viscosity that matches the outside operating temperatures and a low-temperature grease for proper lubrication on pivot points.

Engine coolant — or anti-freeze — is also an important wintertime fluid that should be tested according to manufacturer specifications before the weather turns cold.

Change the hydraulic oil filter, which may have collected water and debris over the warmer months, to help reduce future maintenance problems.

Today’s skid-steer engines burn cleaner and run hotter even in cold months. Interim Tier 4 and Tier 4 engines require CJ-4 oil that has less ash content and minimizes issues with exhaust treatment systems. Ultra-low-sulfur fuel is also required with iT4 and T4 engines. Additional filters on fuel storage and transfer tanks will help ensure clean fuel is delivered to your machine.

In cold weather conditions, diesel fuel can gel, so operators will want to consider an alternative diesel fuel (No.1 grade) or anti-gel additives. In warm temperatures, No. 2 grade diesel fuel can be used.

Keep Tires Inflated

One of the first physical signs of cold weather will be sagging tires on your skid-steer loader. Low tire pressure can translate into lower lift and push capabilities. Check the owner’s manual for the proper psi and inflate tires accordingly.

Test the Battery

Downtime is unavoidable if you have a dead battery. Take time for a load test on your batteries before the first snowfall. Check battery wires and connections for any wear or corrosion – these defects could result in loss of available cranking power. Keep the battery at full charge with a battery extender charger.

Inspect Attachments

Attachments such as snow blades, snowblowers, angle brooms and spreaders are some of the most popular and hardest-working tools in the winter months, and deserve the same attention as the machine itself. Visual checks of attachment components such as hoses, cylinders and guards, cutting blades and edges can help determine if wear is developing or damage has occurred. Some attachments also require fluid-level checks and lubrication.

Stay Warm and Productive

Popular features on skid-steer loaders in colder temperatures include heating and defrosting systems. To keep your cab comfortable and your time productive, inspect each system and perform routine maintenance as specified in the owner’s manual.

Also, inspect the cab’s door and window seals to ensure that heat won’t seep out, and install a new windshield blade and anti-freezing washer fluid.

With a little prep work each fall, you can keep your skid-steer loader running strong all winter long. No time for winterizing? Contact your local Bobcat dealer to schedule a service appointment.