How to Protect Your Equipment from Extreme Temperatures

By Zach Studer, senior technical support specialist at the MFA Oil Laboratory

Extreme temperatures can cause a multitude of issues with your equipment. These issues can lead to inconvenient downtime, costly repairs, and in some instances, jeopardize your health and wellbeing. Traditionally, when we are talking about extreme temperatures in association with equipment, we tend to think about the winter months. But what about summer heat that can get into the triple digits? The fact is, both severe heat and cold can seriously affect equipment performance. The MFA Oil Work Horse product line protects your equipment at both extremes of the thermometer.

Choose Engine Oils with a High Viscosity Index

Engine oil is the lifeblood of your equipment. Engine oil reduces friction, transfers heat, protects from corrosion, neutralizes acids, and prevents deposits. In extreme cold conditions, oil can become more viscous (thicker) making it harder to pump throughout the system. This leads to crucial components being starved of fluid and causes excessive wear. Extremely hot conditions can have the opposite affect–causing to oil to become less viscous (thinner)–and lead to insufficient film thickness, which causes excessive wear. As wear increases, your equipment will run hotter, which can perpetuate a cycle of deterioration until things spiral out of control and catastrophic damage occurs.

The trick to helping your equipment endure extreme cold and heat is to use a quality engine oil with a high viscosity index or VI. The VI indicates how a lubricant’s viscosity changes with temperature. The higher the VI the less the lubricant will thicken or thin due to changes in temperature. Engine oils like Work Horse 15W40, Work Horse Synthetic Blend 10W30, and Work Horse Full Synthetic 5W40 have a high VI and offer outstanding protection for your engine throughout the harshest environments.

Temperature Considerations for Transmission and Hydraulic Fluids

Intense heat and cold can cause similar problems for transmission and hydraulic systems. In extreme cold temperatures, transmission and hydraulic fluid can become more viscous–causing slow, jerky movements in hydraulic systems and hard shifting in the transmission. When these fluids thicken it can result in starved pumps, cavitation and insufficient lubrication. These issues lead to increased wear, loss of efficiency and expensive repairs.

The extreme temperatures of summer months can also wreak havoc on lubricants in transmissions, hydraulic systems and engines through oxidation. Heat acts as a catalyst and drastically increases the rate of oxidation. For every 18℉ increase in temperature, the rate of oxidation doubles, cutting the expected life of a lubricant in half.  

When lubricants are exposed to oxidation, the oil thickens, sludge and deposits form, additives are depleted, and degradation accelerates. Products in the MFA Oil Work Horse lineup such as 15W40, 10W30 Synthetic Blend, and 5W40 Full Synthetic exhibit superior oxidation control and 60% more protection compared with API CJ-4 industry standards. 

Don’t Forget the Coolant

One of the most commonly overlooked engine components is the coolant system. Failing to perform routine maintenance on coolant systems accounts for 40% of diesel engine failures. Coolant regulates heat within the engine block by moving excess warmth from the engine and dispersing it through the radiator. Your coolant needs to be able to withstand freezing during winter months, the extreme heat of summer and the demands of exhaust gas recirculation coolers and selective catalytic reduction systems.

Ensuring you have sufficient coolant in your reservoir is simple enough. In most reservoirs, it’s easy to see how much coolant is left in comparison to the line that shows the fill level when the tank is full. What’s not easily discernible is the condition on the coolant. For example, what’s your coolant’s freeze point? Are the additives and corrosion inhibitors depleted?  These indicators let you know when it’s time to change the coolant. Depending on the type of coolant you are using, you may need to replace it every 250 hours or 24 months.

MFA Oil offers two coolant products. Our Extended Life 50/50 Antifreeze is pre-mixed, so there’s no need to worry about proper blending ratios. It’s designed primarily for passenger cars, mixes with any coolant type, and lasts 5 years or 150,000 miles before it will need to be changed. We also carry Final Charge Global 50/50 Antifreeze, which is intended for heavy duty diesel engines but can be used by passenger cars as well. Final Charge Global is also pre-mixed and can be combined with any other coolant for top offs. What stands out about this product is the drain interval. Final Charge Global is rated for 1,000,000 miles of on-road use or 20,000 hours of off-road use.

Have Your Oil Analyzed to Avoid Issues

If you are now wondering when you last changed your engine or asking yourself “Have I ever tested my antifreeze?”, the good news is that we are here to help. All MFA Oil Bulk Plants have kits available that you can use to collect an oil sample and send to the MFA Oil Laboratory for analysis. We test engine oils, transmission fluid, hydraulic oil, gear oil, antifreeze and diesel exhaust fluid. Regular analysis is a crucial component of any preventative maintenance program and can help you avoid catastrophic damage, lost production, extensive repairs and safety concerns.