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3 Things You Can Do To Prepare Hi-Rail Vehicles For Cold Weather

3 Things You Can Do To Prepare Hi-Rail Vehicles For Cold Weather

Published on: December 3, 2021

Categories: Danella News, Rentals, Safety

Frigid temperatures can take a toll on vehicles, and hi-rail vehicles are no exception.

Most renters rely on guidance and reminders from third party fleet maintenance providers to ensure that vehicles are properly inspected and maintained for the life of the rental.

Given winter’s wrath, though, there are added steps renters should take during cold weather months to keep hi-rail packages running smoothly and safely, no matter what the temperature.

1. Winterize Fire Compressions Systems

Because water compression systems – the hose, tank, pump, and sprayer included in case of a fire emergency – are added onto vehicles after the factory, they aren’t outlined in vehicles’ owner manuals.

Knowing this, Danella adds winterization instructions to all rented vehicles with water compression systems. The instructions appear on decals adhered to the vehicles themselves. Matt Wyche of Danella Rental Systems encourages renters to take these reminders and instructions seriously if they’re in possession of a rented vehicle as fall gives way to winter.

“Water compression system winterization varies from vehicle to vehicle, but in every case, it needs to be done”

Some models require draining – in which case decals highlight which valves to open. Others accept an additive that’s distributed throughout the system to keep water from freezing. Whatever the process, it’s essential that water compression systems are winterized correctly. When they’re not, cold temperatures can cause them to crack, letting in water that can freeze. Beyond any damage and repair costs, a compromised water compression system can prove tragic.

“Fire is a huge risk on jobsites,” Wyche reminds. “Grinding, drilling, and welding all create sparks, and hi-rail projects by nature are often far from traditional fire control resources.”

2. Inspect Your Grease and Hydraulic Fluid

When inspections are up-to-date and maintenance guidelines are followed, it’s easy to assume a vehicle is in perfect working condition. But during winter months, water and ice have a way of breaking seals, getting in and causing damage. Keep a close eye on grease inside of bearings, and you can get ahead of costly and extensive issues caused by water.

“Grease starts to look cloudy or milky when water has been introduced,” Wyche says.

Cold weather can also let water into hydraulic reservoirs. In hydraulically operated vehicles, those reservoirs hold fluid that’s essential to lowering and raising the vehicle’s wheels on and off of the track.

“We occasionally get calls from customers whose vehicles’ wheels refuse to go up or down. This is typically the result of water getting in via cracks or leaks, mixing with hydraulic fluid, and freezing.”

Much like grease, hydraulic fluid starts to look cloudy once water is introduced. Daily fluid checks can tip you off to a problem, preventing larger vehicle issues as well as job delays.

3. Keep an Eye on Secondary Braking Systems

Secondary braking systems are essential to slowing hi-rail vehicle wheels. These brakes are especially critical in winter months, when icy conditions can make surfaces and mechanics slippery. Unfortunately, winter is also when brakes are most likely to be compromised by extreme weather.

“Never underestimate the value of a quick walk-around inspection,” Wyche says. “Even without a mechanical background or tools, just a quick 360-degree visual review can be extremely beneficial.”

Confirm that secondary braking system brake pads, also known as shoes, aren’t cracked, broken, or partly missing. Above all, check that the brakes are there. Brake assembly systems can get knocked off altogether in extreme conditions.

If you have additional questions about the cold weather and how it affects the maintenance of hi-rail equipment, contact us at Danella Rental Systems, Inc. at or call 1-800-969-6200 to learn more.