Keep Your Cool This Summer: Tips to an Efficient Forklift Cooling System
Getting hot under the collar is about as good for your forklifts as it is for you. Heat results in increased engine wear, part failure and lift truck maintenance expenses. Like most other facets of your operation, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and keeping your engine operating at recommended manufacturer temperatures will improve your productivity and bottom line.
If your lift trucks are inspected as part of a regular planned maintenance program with inspections being performed by trained lift truck professionals, it is likely that these elements of your cooling system are being inspected and abnormal wear is being brought to your attention. However, one oversight and the end result could be a repair bill mounting into the thousands.
Keeping your forklift engine cool includes:
- Replacing engine coolant with coolant, not water – Water in your coolant system can be a very short-term patch, but can result in long-term damage to your engine and early failure. Water has a lower boiling temperature than coolant and will cause your engine to run at a higher temperature, resulting in oil viscosity breakdown and undue engine wear.
- Check the condition of the radiator – Check for leaks, cracks or any other signs of damage. If you see any, get it fixed as soon as possible.
- Clean the radiator – The radiator can get clogged with dirt, debris, and bugs. Use a soft brush or a pressure washer to clean the radiator fins.
- Replacing hoses before you see damage – Hoses wear over time, often from the inside out. Inspect for leaks on a regular basis and replace hoses at manufacturers recommended intervals. Leaks can result in loss of coolant over time, increase engine temperature and lower performance. Hose failure and the resulting spill can produce a hazardous situation for everyone in the vicinity.
- Check the condition of the water pump – Look for any signs of leaks or damage. If you see any, get it fixed as soon as possible.
- Check the condition of the thermostat – If the thermostat is not functioning properly, it can cause the engine to overheat. Replace it if it’s not working correctly.
- Keeping the pressure on – The coolant system is pressurized to raise the boiling point of the coolant. Radiator caps maintain the pressure in the system. When the cap is not functioning properly, coolant can boil out onto the floor at near normal operating temperatures, causing operators or technicians to incorrectly believe that the engine is overheating. Pressure testing the radiator cap is the only sure way to maintain proper coolant system pressure.
- Keeping Your Engine Properly Belted – An engine’s fan belt creates air flow over the engine, removing external surface heat. It also drives the circulation of the engine’s coolant through the engine, keeping the internal temperature at normal operating limits. Worn belts can reduce the flow of coolant, increasing the temperature and creating a long-term problem for your engine. Belt failure can result in immediate overheating, engine damage and an expensive repair. Have your belts inspected for wear and replace them at factory suggested intervals to ensure proper coolant flow inside and out.
- Inspecting your engine’s fan – Driven by the fan belt to perform, a properly operating engine fan allows for the normal conduction of heat from the inside of the engine to the surface where the fan whisks away the excess heat. A cracked or damaged fan can reduce the effectiveness of the fan and increase engine temperature. Be sure to inspect the fan for wear and damage and replace it with a manufacturer’s suggested replacement. Heavy steel fans can produce undue wear on the engine and reduce the fan’s capacity to remove heat, or even create its own heat by increased demand for energy by a heavier fan.
- Regular Coolant Fluid Replacement – Like oil, cooling system fluid has a recommended maximum useful life, and that can vary widely depending upon how your system was serviced and the type of coolant used to replace your current fluid. Every engine and application is different so don’t solely rely on factory recommended intervals for a flush and refill. Consult with us about an application survey and we can assist you in setting a schedule for regular coolant replacement that makes sense for YOUR operation.
- Avoid idling for extended periods – Idling for long periods of time can cause the engine to overheat. If your operator is pausing operation for more than 15 seconds, consider having them turn the forklift off. This also saves some fuel and reduces emissions.
- Park in the shade – Whenever possible, park in the shade to keep the engine cool.
If your lift trucks are not on a regularly scheduled Planned Maintenance program, they should be. Let us take the worry out of what and when to inspect, letting you tend to the business of what you do best. Contact Us Here or give us a call at 410-344-1801.