Is your engine ready for summer?
By Ian Cameron08 July 2021
Extra heat adds pressure on engines
Engine maintenance is important all year round. However, in the warmer summer months, we often find that engines are under more pressure and are therefore more prone to breakdowns. Instead of letting the heat negatively impact operations, effective maintenance can keep engines running throughout summer. Here Pete Trueman, Service Delivery manager at DiPerk, offers advice on summer engine maintenance.
To some, summer might mean school breaks and beach holidays. To industry, summer is just as busy, if not busier than other times of the year. For example, the agriculture industry is maintaining crops and preparing for the autumn harvest. Farmers rely on tractors and other engine powered equipment, such as crop sprayers, during harvesting, so they cannot afford break downs or periods of inactivity. Maintaining their kit in the summer is vital for a successful autumn.
Diesel engines must stay cool to operate efficiently and if your engine has a weakness, the hotter temperatures could speed up deterioration and increase the risk of faults. At best, your engine will have to be switched off temporarily to cool it down — at worst head gasket failure caused by excessive heat could lead to a costly bill and downtime. So, as temperatures rise, operators that require diesel engines for everyday operations must do what they can to keep the engines cool.
The increase in temperature in summer primarily affects the engine’s cooling system, so operators must ensure that this is in good condition. For example, operators should check that the coolant levels are at the right level and strength using a refractometer, topping up if necessary.
Engine operators often forget that they should regularly change the coolant. While it is a labour-intensive process, changing coolant is essential to ensure engines will operate efficiently. Ethylene glycol, one of the key components of coolant fluid, will congeal when it lays stagnant in the system. This congealed coolant can block the system, reduce airflow and prevent the rest of the fluid from cooling properly. Operators should regularly flush the system using a flushing agent and replace the coolant so that there is no risk that the engine will overheat because of issues in flow.
Consistent airflow also prevents engines from overheating in summer months, so operators should keep a close eye on the radiator and its fins. Air matrixes often get blocked by dirt, grease, leaves and more. Regularly checking the radiator and removing any blockages can reduce the risk of overheating.
To help users understand what routine maintenance tasks they should complete to be ready for summer, Perkins engines has an owner’s operations and maintenance manual (OMM) and a mobile app. Operators can use these resources for advice on service schedules, basic instructions on performing front level maintenance and other information about their specific engine model. If operators experience a problem that is not in the manual, they should call an expert to carry out the maintenance.
The best way to ensure that engines are in the best condition to operate efficiently in hotter temperatures and in busier periods is to carry out regular maintenance all year round. Completing regular maintenance tasks such as clearing blockages and maintaining coolant levels mean that users are less likely to overheat their engines and disrupt busier periods because of downtime.
DiPerk is the sole authorised distributor of Perkins engines in the UK. As the UK’s Perkins engine experts, the company supplies, services and supports the complete range of Perkins engines, used in variety of markets and applications, including agricultural, construction, industrial and power generation.