Wheel Loader Care 101
Fuel filters must be checked and serviced per the manufacturer’s time intervals. Some machines require 500-hour interval changing due to engine compliance. Fuel fittings and “Banjo” fittings should be checked for possible ingress of air into the system. Usually “white smoke” could indicate air in the fuel lines in addition to water in fuel and cylinders.
Turbos and superchargers can be routinely reviewed for oil leakage and noise. Generally, low-boost pressure will lower machine performance under load and in addition to restricted air cleaner filters, could attribute to “black smoke.”
Fuel quality at the work site warrants a review. Bulk fuel tanks could have water ingression from improper breathers and/or fill caps. Proper use of fuel additives also is important.
Radiator cleaning is necessary for maximum cooling as well as coolant type and solution percentage. Checking the coolant level is a daily routine that should be performed. It is imperative that the correct type of coolant is used per the loader manufacturer’s specifications.
Essential electrical tips
Battery condition is vital for a loader to operate without starting and other electrical issues. The loader manufacturer designs cold cranking amps, reserve capacity, and battery size for proper starting and electrical load conditions. Replacing a battery with another type or size of battery will compromise the OEM design and electrical issues could occur, such as batteries draining during machine-off cycles, low starting current, and minimum system load requirements.
The batteries should be checked with a load tester rather than a simple voltage check. The battery electrolyte should be 10 mm (0.4 inch) over the plates in the battery. Top off with distilled water as needed. Keep dirt and debris off of batteries so they can vent properly and prevent voltage flashover. Also be sure the battery hold-downs are secure. In addition, battery cables and battery terminals are items that must be inspected to be sure that contact areas are free from corrosion and connections are tight. If a booster battery is required to start the engine, the instructions in the manufacturer’s operator’s manual must be strictly followed. If needed, charge the batteries with a battery charger. If the batteries do not take the charge, replace the batteries. Moreover, on a 24-volt system, never install a 12-volt option directly to one of the machine’s 12-volt batteries. This will allow the other battery to be overcharged by the alternator. Install the option to an approved 24-volt to 12-volt power converter. Finally, always turn the main battery disconnect switch off over the weekend.
Alternator output should be normally at 27.5 to 28.5 volts. Alternator, alternator belts, and terminals need to be inspected for maximum charging. Check that cable terminals and terminal studs are well cleaned and tightened every 500 hours. Always check belt tension every 250 hours. When replacing twin belts, be sure replacement belts are identical size and recheck tension after belt run-in period. Never disconnect the alternator leads while the engine is running or allow the alternator output socket to connect to the chassis, or reverse the power cables to the alternator. This could damage both the alternator and regulator. Starter ground cables must also be secure. Never connect jumper cables to the starter itself. When re-installing cables, multiple cables on starter terminals should be large diameter cables first then smaller sizes.
Wiring harnesses are the blood stream of the electrical system. They not only transport the current needed for components to function properly, today they are the devices that carry the digital information between computers onboard. These harnesses should be checked for proper routing and avoidance of sharp edges and heated surfaces. Their connectors, as well, have to be checked for fretting and possible corrosion. Most electrical problems are associated with unsecured negative grounds, so these are the first places to look at if multiple electrical circuits are affected.
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