In the know: Winter operation tips

Updated Feb 1, 2022

Winter Equipment Operation

In colder climates, winter presents a special set of challenges to heavy equipment operators. To help you operate safely and prevent damage to your machines, we’ve assembled a helpful list of 21 best practices you should remember when starting and using them in cold weather:


1. Fueling in cold weather requires extra care to avoid water and other contaminants from entering your machine’s fuel tank.

2. Fuel, air and hydraulic filters need to be maintained for easier starting and to avoid power loss during equipment operation.


3. The use of jumper cables under cold conditions is always a concern. Improper use, like accidental reverse polarization hookup, can cause extensive electrical system damage.

4. Attempting to charge a frozen battery will almost always cause the battery to explode.


5. The storing, handling and use of highly volatile ether starting aids in pressurized cans is always a concern. Improper use of ether can cause an engine to seize while cranking and bend valve stems or worse.

6. When two or more people are involved in jump starting situations vigilance is critical. Discuss the process to be followed before attempting a jump start because once the engine starts, the person in the cab won’t be able to hear you.


7. All hoses and wires become more brittle and stressed in extreme cold conditions. Allow sufficient warm-up time before putting equipment to work.

8. Hydraulics can be warmed more quickly by causing the relief valve to open intermittently by holding a control valve after the cylinder comes to the end of the stroke.


9. Before cold weather arrives, check to make certain all atmospheric system such as operator compartment heaters and defrosting devices, are working in top condition. Don’t wait until the first cold snap to check this, or you may discover that you don’t have heat in the cab!

10. When you’re operating your machine during inclement winter weather, be sure you can see clearly out of the cab windows. They can become icy or fogged up easily at this time of year, reducing visibility and making it hard for you to see nearby obstructions, other machines and laborers working on the ground.

To see Tips 11 through 21, visit

This article originally appeared at It has been republished with permission.

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