Most skid steers are now equipped with an onboard indicator to alert the operator when the air filter needs changing. “Onboard computers inform operators when servicing of air filters is required, which helps the operator do maintenance only when needed and ensures the filter is changed when needed,” says Johnson.
When it comes time to replace the filter, don’t be tempted to skimp on maintenance by trying to clean it. “Air filters are being improperly cleaned to save a few dollars instead of being replaced,” Jerred comments. “The cleaning of an air filter is risky and is not advised. It’s best to replace them when the air cleaner indicator advises the operator to do so.”
Inspect for wear and tear
Of course, operators are your first line of defense when it comes to catching signs of damage or wear. “A simple five--minute walk--around looking for loose, worn or damaged components can spot potential failures before they cause major downtime,” Johnson notes.
“When daily maintenance is being done, inspect the machine for problems that may be developing,” advises Jerred. Repairs can then be performed before a component fails. For example, a loose hose or line clamp can be identified and tightened before vibration leads to line cracks and hose failures.
During the walk--around, Foster recommends clearing heat exchangers and coolers of debris. “You can really shorten the life of your engine and hydraulic and hydrostatic systems through excess heat due to debris buildup that reduces the efficiency of the coolers,” he states.
Batteries should also be checked to ensure they can function properly. “By their nature, the cycles of the battery and starter engagement on skid steers is much more frequent than on larger construction equipment,” says Foster. “The user will start and stop the machine numerous times throughout the day. It’s important to maintain clean terminals and, if it’s not a maintenance--free battery, to maintain the correct fluid levels.”
Tire inspection should also be a part of your maintenance routine. “Operating with low tire pressure can damage the sidewall and possibly cause a flat,” Foster explains. It can also affect skid--steer productivity. “It’s more difficult to cut a grade when the bucket is not sitting level because tire pressure is too low on one side.”
The amount of debris around construction sites can result in a puncture that produces a slow leak. Discovering a decrease in tire pressure early on can help avoid a flat during operation. “Unfortunately, people tend not to look at tires until they discover they have a flat,” Foster points out. “If you want good uptime and more productivity, you need to know the condition of your tires.”
In the long run, attention to such details will pay off. “The payback will be in terms of dollars and cents to a contractor,” says Foster. “Maintaining good maintenance practices is going to result in fewer failures with less downtime.”
Becky Schultz is the editor of Equipment Today, a sister publication of Concrete Concepts.