Winter Vehicle Maintenance

By Aram Kalousdian, Editor | September 28, 2010

Proper operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of ice and snow removal equipment was discussed at the Michigan Chapter American Public Works Association's Winter Vehicle Maintenance Tips seminar at the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth on October 30, 2007.

Truck & Trailer Specialties presented a Winter Ready Equipment Checklist of items that should be checked, which includes:

  • Batteries, battery terminals and cables
  • Ground posts and studs — check for corrosion and apply protective grease
  • Applying dielectric grease to all wiring connectors
  • Testing all original equipment manufacturer (OEM) lights to verify proper operation
  • Testing plow lights to verify proper operation
  • Testing all spreader and scraper lights to verify proper operation
  • Testing all strobe lights to verify proper operation
  • Verifying that all switch panel functions, including back lighting, are operating properly

Hydraulic system maintenance includes:

  • Filling the hydraulic tank to the proper level
  • Checking the filter and fluid condition
  • Making sure the fluid level and temperature gauges are working properly
  • Inspecting all hoses for leaks, rubbing, worn areas, sharp bends, loose routing, etc.
  • Inspecting valves for leaks and loose fittings
  • Inspecting and lubricating the pump drive shaft
  • Running the pump and checking the pressure and flow
  • Checking and adjusting the pump standby pressure and compensated pressure
  • Inspecting, cleaning and replacing all quick disconnect fittings
  • Checking the wiring to the power takeoff (PTO) that engages the clutch packs on hot shifted PTO driven pumps. It can be a source of PTO disengagement due to corrosion at the electrical connections. Also check the pressure and lubrication lines from the transmission to the hot shifted PTO.

Maintenance of the hydraulic controls includes:

  • Checking all wiring harnesses and cables for damage
  • Checking all electrical connectors for corrosion and damage
  • Applying dielectric grease to connectors as required
  • Verifying proper operation of all equipment control functions
  • Verifying proper operation of all spreader control functions
  • Verifying proper operation of all liquid control functions

Maintenance of the front plow includes:

  • Inspecting the plow and plow hitch for impact damage
  • Inspecting the plow angle stops for damage
  • Torquing all fasteners on the plow and hitch
  • Lubricating any sliding surfaces on the plow and hitch
  • Installing the plow and verifying proper connection/contact between the plow and the hitch
  • Inspecting the plow cutting edge for wear, cracking and chips, and replacing as necessary
  • Inspecting and cleaning quick disconnects
  • Inspecting the plow lift chains and connection points
  • Lubricating all pivot points on the plow and hitch
  • Connecting hydraulic hoses and checking for leaks
  • Verifying operation of all plow functions
  • Fully extending all cylinders and checking for leaks, bent rods and corrosion on rods
  • Verifying that the pins on Husting hitches are working correctly and do not have too much wear
  • Checking that springs on the hitch pins are working correctly. The pins should be greased.
  • Checking the release handle that controls the hitch pins and related linkage
  • Inspecting the latch mechanism as well as the pivot bolt on the swivel plate on Quick hitches
  • Inspecting the plow wheels, shoes, etc., and repairing as needed

Scraper maintenance includes:

  • Inspecting the scraper and mountings for impact damage and repairing as necessary
  • Inspecting the blade angle stops for damage
  • Torquing all fasteners on the scraper and mounts
  • Checking the center pin for wear
  • Checking to make sure that none of the three bolts are broken on center bolt bushings that have three attachment bolts
  • Lubricating all grease points
  • Inspecting the scraper cutting edge for wear, cracking and chips, and replacing as necessary
  • Inspecting curb guards for wear
  • Verifying operation of all scraper functions
  • Checking and adjusting the down pressure as needed
  • Checking all hoses and connections for leaks and wear
  • Fully extending all cylinders and checking for leaks, bent rods and corrosion on rods
  • Verifying that actuating springs are not cracked and are working correctly
  • Checking all clevis pins on power reverse cylinders and greasing as needed

Wing maintenance includes:

  • Inspecting wing and mounting for impact damage, and repairing as needed
  • Torquing all fasteners on the wing and mounting
  • Lubricating all slide and pivot points on all wing components
  • Installing wing and verifying proper connection points
  • Inspecting safety chains for stored position
  • Inspecting wing cutting edge for wear, cracking and chips, and replacing as needed
  • Inspecting, cleaning and replacing hydraulic quick disconnects as needed
  • Connecting hydraulic hoses and operating wing functions
  • Checking all hoses and connections for leaks
  • Fully extending all cylinders and checking for leaks, bent rods and corrosion on rods

Spreader maintenance includes:

  • Inspecting the condition of the spreader, auger/conveyor and spinner, and repairing or replacing damaged parts
  • Checking the flight chain for excessive wear on pins or pintles
  • Checking the bearings on the conveyor and under tailgate spreaders and greasing them
  • Checking the chain tension of the flight chain and adjusters for slack and adjusting prior to installing into v box
  • Checking rotation of the chain or auger after installing the v box or under tailgate
  • Inspecting the spreader mounts (pins, latches, turnbuckles, etc.) for damage and repairing as needed
  • Verifying that all shields and guards are in place and adjusted properly
  • Lubricating all grease points on the bearings, slides, etc.
  • Checking the gearbox lubricant and adding or replacing as needed
  • Checking the gearbox vents
  • Checking the operation of the gate jack on slide-in units and greasing the worm gear actuator
  • Inspecting and cleaning the hydraulic quick disconnects
  • Greasing electrical connections (sensors, lights, etc.) with dielectric grease
  • Running the spreader manually to verify proper operation of hydraulic motors
  • Checking all hoses and connections for leaks
  • Checking calibration values and operating the spreader control
  • Performing drop tests to verify calibration accuracy
  • Checking the spinner assembly, including hubs and spinner discs. Verify that the steel spinner disc has all of the flights, and that the poly spinner discs are not cracked.
  • Checking the adjustment of deflector shields, if so equipped

Maintenance for Prewet and anti-ice liquid systems includes:

  • Installing any liquid system components that were removed from the truck for the summer
  • Inspecting all of the components for damage, especially spray nozzles
  • Inspecting the inside of pump enclosures for standing liquid and corrosion
  • Inspecting and cleaning liquid quick disconnects
  • Inspecting the inside of liquid tanks and flushing with clean water as necessary
  • Inspecting and applying dielectric grease to all electrical connections
  • Partially filling tanks with water or Prewet fluid
  • Positioning all hand valves for normal operation
  • Running the pump manually to verify proper operation of the pump and motor
  • Operating the diverter valve to verify operation (if applicable)
  • Operating the anti-ice valves to verify operation (if applicable)
  • Adjusting the aim of the spray nozzles, if necessary
  • Checking the calibration values in the spreader/liquid controller
  • Checking the lovejoy coupler between the hydraulic motor and the Prewet pump for excessive wear
  • Making certain that flow meters on Prewet and anti-ice systems are clean and free of debris for proper operation
  • Checking operation of the pump pressure relief system. It is either a separate relief valve or it is built into the pump. A malfunctioning bypass system will cause damage to both the pump and the flow meter, if the nozzles become plugged.
  • Draining all water from any liquid system and replacing it with anti-freeze prior to usage

Dump body maintenance includes:

  • Inspecting the condition of the dump body, tailgate, lights, and reflectors
  • Raising the body to verify proper operation and full extension of the cylinder
  • Verifying the condition of and proper operation of the body props
  • Inspecting the hydraulic hoses and connections for damage and leaks
  • Lubricating all body, hoist and hinge grease points
  • Verifying the tailgate latch function
  • Confirming operation of the in-cab body up warning light

The above checklist is for reference purposes only and is not all inclusive in all situations. Vehicle and equipment specific installation, safety and maintenance instructions should be read before operating or servicing equipment.

Dave Wollschlager, of NAPA Electrical Sales, discussed the latest developments in automotive batteries.

"They are being asked to do an awful lot more today than they were before. We put more electrical components on these vehicles such as lights, global positioning systems and tracking devices," Wollschlager said.

"Automotive batteries continue to be 12 volts. We've got the alternators up to 140 amps and some on the police cars are 200 amps. So, we're able to get 200 amps and we really haven't done too much more to the battery." Wollschlager discussed about absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries.

"There are two companies that make a lot of these; one is Exide and the other is Johnson Controls (Interstate)." Wollschlager explained that AGM is a fiberglass material.

"They take a sheet and put it around every positive plate in the cell. Then a machine pushes it together and inserts it into the cell. Then when they fill it with acid, it gets absorbed into the fiberglass.

"The key thing is vibration. By wrapping with fiberglass, they're going to improve the life of the battery." The cost of the battery is also doubled, he added.

"These batteries are coming out as OEM. A lot of the import manufacturers are bringing this out on their vehicles," Wollschlager said. He explained that a few years ago most batteries had an 18-month warranty and a 50-month pro-rating. They currently come with 36-month replacement warranties and a 108-month pro-rating.