Get into gear and prepare your equipment for Spring!

Spring is fast approaching, so it’s time to get into gear and start prepping your equipment for a productive season.

After a long, cold, and wet winter, there is much to do in order to get all your mechanical equipment ready for operation. Periods of downtime in this kind of weather can cause all sorts of problems for your equipment that need to be addressed to ensure they properly operate once things warm up again. Failure to adequately prepare your equipment can lead to safety hazards and costly repairs.

As much as you may prefer to enjoy the warmer mornings, it’s probably a better idea for you to get to work on your machines to prevent any of these unwanted and potentially expensive disruptions.

Whether you’re rocking a Kubota tractor or a combine harvester, all your equipment should undergo rigorous checks and maintenance, so let’s jump in and create a spring preparation checklist:

Maintenance Tasks

  1. Change filters: If your filters are clogged or dirty, they can reduce efficiency and increase contaminants that can damage your system. Change the filters as needed or clean them if that is all that’s required.
  2. Change engine and hydraulic oil: Replace both hydraulic and engine oils to ensure clean and efficient system operation. Check with your manual to ensure you’re using the right type.
  3. Check coolants: Run the engine and inspect the appearance of your coolant. Make sure it’s free of impurities and is the correct color. Since temperatures can still get low in the spring, make sure you get the appropriate grade of coolant for the weather in your area.
  4. Grease components: Lubricate any major components if needed.
  5. Clean the exterior: If winter gets seriously cold in your area, you’ll need to remove ice with a broom or air compressor. Don’t use anything that could damage the paint, like a shovel. Don’t operate it until you’ve thawed any ice around the transmission, motor or swinging mechanism. You’ll also need to clean the undercarriage of your machine to remove any debris. Check the tracks for loose pads or inappropriate tension.
  6. Clean the interior: Give the cab a good clean and replace the air filters. Cleaning the interior will make operation more comfortable for the driver and protect delicate electronics.

It’s a good idea to log the work you do on your equipment, that way you can keep track of its maintenance history. A detailed report will keep you informed of what needs to be done to keep it in good condition. You should include in your report things such as:

–          Serial and model numbers

–          Hours in service

–          Filter types

–          Oil grade

–          Part identifiers

–          Dates of oil changes

–          Dates of greasing parts

–          Repair history

Pre-Start Checklist

Now that you’ve gone through and performed the required maintenance tasks, it’s a good idea to undertake a general inspection of your equipment. Performing a comprehensive check like this will avoid potentially nasty surprises when you go to start it up. Below is a list of things to check before starting up heavy equipment after the winter period:


  1. Belts: Depending on the piece of equipment, you may have one or more belts in your engine, such as a serpentine or V-belt. Inspect these belts for signs of wear, like cracking and fraying. Also, check its alignment to ensure it hasn’t come loose. You should also check on pulleys and idlers, making sure they are in good condition.
  2. Hoses: Many pieces of equipment have hoses that carry oil or other chemicals throughout the system. These can become environmental hazards if they break. On farms, pesticides are a significant concern here. Inspect your hoses and replace them if you spot any signs of wear. Sunlight and heat can cause damage to rubber surfaces, shown by cracking or swelling on the exterior. Abrasion is another concern, so look for areas where the hose can rub up against another component, such as a bolt or joint. If the component has started to wear out the hose, try placing a protector between them. Also, ensure the hose is free of any kinks.
  3. Clamps: Many components like hoses and piping are held down by clamps. These are usually metal and can suffer rust and corrosion. Replace them if needed, but be careful not to over tighten them and put undue stress on the components they’re holding.
  4. Seals: Check all the seals and make sure they’re still working at full capacity. Any leaks could reduce efficiency, damage your equipment or pose a health hazard.
  5. Boom and arm: Check the boom, arm and attachments. See if any pins or bushings are worn, and look for damage to lines.

Additional things to check include:

–          Brakes

–          Lights and indicators

–          Wipers

–          Battery

–          Stickers and decals

Check Paperwork

Preparing for spring isn’t only about physical work on your equipment, it is also about getting your paperwork in order. A few things to keep on top of before getting back into operation might include:

  1. Licenses and tickets: Make sure your professional licenses are up-to-date or take note if they will be expiring within the year. You might need to start work on renewing your licenses or continue education requirements.
  2. Warranties: Most machinery requires you to take certain measures each year to stay under warranty. Review the terms of your warranty and make sure you abide by them. It may be worth making a schedule and chart if you’ll need to do these tasks more than once over the next year. In addition to keeping your warranty active, maintenance can keep your machine moving more efficiently.
  3. Insurance: You probably don’t need to do this every year, especially if your business doesn’t fluctuate much, but try not to neglect it. Make sure your current inventory and the scope of your work are covered under your policy.

The sooner you can get cracking on your spring checklist, the better prepared you will be to get back up and running after a period of downtime. It will also give you plenty of time to assess the viability of your equipment moving forward without causing delays in operations. You’d rather find yourself looking at excavators for sale before resuming operations, rather than as a result of not doing your spring checks. With a bit of luck, this should get you nicely prepared for a smooth and productive spring!

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