Article

Maintain Snow-Removal Equipment Before it Snows

September 2005, Government Fleet - Feature

disastrousNeglecting snow-removal equipment maintenance can lead to disaster in the winter, when trucks, spreaders, plows, and other equipment are called upon to perform in harsh conditions for long stretches at a time. “In order to keep snow-removal equipment functioning properly, it’s critical that fleet maintenance technicians take the time before the season starts to conduct a complete inspection of all equipment and undertake any preventive maintenance or repairs that may be required,” says Ron Gerding, a 31-year veteran with the Heil Environmental Truck Equipment Group in Tishomingo, Mich. “Taking the time to maintain the equipment now can prevent costly repairs and downtime this winter.”Heil, a manufacturer of truck equipment, offers the following checklist for preseason inspection/maintenance of any vehicles used in snow-removal applications. Also check the operator’s manual that comes with the equipment for specific guidelines. Safety Equipment
  • Check that all lighting is functioning properly. This includes headlights, clearance marker lamps, safety lighting, hazards, brake lamps, warning lights, and turn signals.
  • Check all audible warning signals.
  • Make sure every vehicle is equipped with a safety kit for the operator, in case something goes wrong with the vehicle on the route. Suggested kit contents include: a warm blanket, change of clothes, flashlight with extra batteries, basic tools, first aid supplies, flares, an ice scraper and long-handled snow brush, emergency triangles, bottled water, and nonperishable food.
  • Check the radio and/or other communications systems.Visibility
  • Check the windshield and mirrors for chips or cracks.
  • Make sure windshield wiper blades are fresh and that all heating and defrosting systems are operating properly.Routine Preventive Maintenance
  • Thoroughly lubricate the body, chassis, and truck equipment as outlined in the owner’s manual.
  • Visually check all hoses, lines, cylinders, and fittings for leaks.
  • Check all belts for cracks, soft spots, or bulges.
  • Check all fluid levels and filters.
  • Does the vehicle need an oil change?
  • Inspect all tires for proper tread depth and air pressure.
  • Check wheels and rims for damage or cracks.
  • Examine brake shoes and drums for any excessive wear or cracks.
  • Consider a coat of wax to help protect the vehicle’s finish in the harsh months ahead.
  • Once the season starts, remember to thoroughly clean the equipment with a high-pressure wash after every use or shift. Take advantage of this time to also inspect components for signs of wear, cracks, leaks, or misalignment with the body. The vehicle body should also be lubricated more frequently during periods of heavy use. Check fluid levels often.System Checks
  • Check the power steering for excessive play.
  • For vehicles equipped with plows, check the hook-up mechanism and points of attachment to the truck.
  • For spreader trucks, make sure the conveyor chain is riding properly in the sprockets, unimpeded by any rocks or other debris. Adjust the angle of the discharge chute so material hits the spinner dish for the most effective spread pattern. Also, check the dish itself for damage.
  • Test the electrical system and examine the wiring.
  • Check the front axle and rear suspension for bad springs or worn bushings and pins.
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