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Top 5 Skid Steer Maintenance Tips

Top 5 Skid Steer Maintenance Tips

_by David Hilgendorf|September 29, 2023

Skid steers are built for tough construction, excavation, agricultural and other professional projects. Whether you’re clearing land, moving rocks or tearing down a wall, a skid steer is an excellent piece of equipment for many different jobs. But these nimble machines can be expensive to repair and replace if neglected. Good maintenance practices are important to keep your skid steers going strong.

A daily check before each job can keep you from getting sidelined. Here’s our quick checklist of the top five things you should check before hopping in your skid steer.

  1. Front End: Inspect attachments, such as the bucket, fork or brush-cutter to ensure they’re free from debris and not damaged. Be sure the arms are working properly and check to see that the pins and bushings are well-greased at all fittings. Inspect the hoses and tubes and make sure they’re secure and leak-free.
  2. Tires/Track: Depending on your setup, be sure to either check the tire pressure or adjust track tension as necessary. Skipping this step puts strain on these components, and they are expensive to replace when damaged.
  3. Safety Controls: Step into the cab and inspect the seat belt, panel display, backup alerts and horn. This helps keep you and the people around you safe on the job.
  4. Engine: Take a walk behind the machine and open the tailgate. Remove any debris and check to see that all components, such as the air filter and cooling system, are undamaged.
  5. Fluids: Engine oil, hydraulic oil and coolant levels should all be inspected. Making sure that all fluid levels are full helps keep your skid steer from suffering from accelerated wear or heat damage to help increase the performance and protection of your critical equipment.

AMSOIL has a full line of quality fluids designed to improve the performance and protection of your skid steer and other heavy-duty diesel equipment.


Be Prepared for Winter Driving

Be Prepared for Winter Driving

Prepare your vehicle for hazardous roads before winter arrives.

_by David Hilgendorf|October 25, 2022

Ice storms are most common when the air temperature is close to freezing and blizzards become more likely as temperatures fall below freezing. Both can reduce visibility and create slippery road conditions that require enhanced vigilance and safe driving practices.

Whether freezing rain, sleet, snow or ice, the best time to prepare your vehicle for slick and hazardous roads is before winter arrives. Here are some recommendations to get your vehicle ready for severe weather and be prepared for winter driving.

Prep your vehicle

  • Battery – Cold temperatures are a battery killer. Check the battery voltage to ensure it has enough juice for cold starts and recharge it or replace it if not. Clean any corrosion from the battery terminals and verify the alternator is operating properly and belts are in good shape.
  • Antifreeze – Verify existing antifreeze will provide subzero protection with a simple test available at any auto parts store. If it’s been several years since the antifreeze has been changed or there’s sludge or slime in your radiator, have it flushed and refilled.
  • Wipers – Wiper blades are cheap insurance that you’ll be able to see in stormy weather, so replacing them before the winter is always smart. Fill the washer reservoir with a quality freeze-resistant fluid.
  • Brakes – Stopping safely is more difficult on slick roads. If the brakes seem soft, noisy or unresponsive, have the brake fluid, pads, rotors and lines checked. Snow and ice from your boots can also accumulate on the floor mat restricting the pedals, so check the mat regularly.
  • Fuel – Maintaining at least a half tank of fuel allows you to use the cabin heater to stay warm if you become stranded. It also helps prevent condensation moisture from collecting in the tank. Diesel fuel can gel in extreme cold, so put some AMSOIL Diesel Cold Flow in the tank.
  • Tires – Tires should be inspected monthly for damage, wear and proper inflation, regardless of the season. Don’t forget to check the spare tire, too. Keep a pressure gauge in the vehicle as part of the tire service kit. There are more tips on snow tires below.

Emergency Kit

Many drivers fail to keep an emergency kit in their vehicle. Cell phones may speed up recovery time when stranded, but the batteries can die, and service isn’t always available, especially in remote areas and during violent winter storms.

  • Flashlight – While traditional flashlights work well, they are of no use if the batteries are dead. LED flashlights last much longer, are usually rechargeable, and often feature an emergency strobe. In a pinch, your cell phone can also be used as a flashlight, after you’ve called for assistance.
  • Batteries – Your electronics are worthless in an emergency if they don’t power on. Invest in a modern automotive emergency battery pack that includes a flashlight, strobe light, phone charger and can jump-start your vehicle! Keep it charged.
  • Jumper cables – Quality, long, thick cables with multi-strand wire and heavy-duty clips will often save the day. Invest in four-gauge, 20-foot cables that won’t break the bank and will last a long time.
  • Tool kit – Keep basic tools in the car, including a multi-tool, vise grips, pliers, screwdrivers, duct tape, zip ties and a tire-plug kit with CO2 inflater. A jack and tire iron should already be stored in your vehicle, so read the manual and understand how to use them to quickly change a flat in an emergency.
  • Blanket – It’s often safest to remain in place and wait for help. A blanket can block the wind, contain body heat and keep you from freezing. Keeping a spare winter jacket, gloves, hat, boots and thermal undergarments in the car is even better if you’re prone to underdress, especially if you need to exit the vehicle.
  • Sustenance – Keep a stash of non-perishable, high-energy foods such as granola bars and nuts in the car. It’s recommended to keep one gallon of drinking water per person per day on hand, but you can melt snow for drinking in winter, so you may only need a water bottle and some heat.
  • First-aid kit – An Emergency First Aid guide or training will inform you the goal is to stop bleeding and prevent infection with absorbent gauze dressings and bandages, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, hydrocortisone and aspirin. Tools should include an emergency blanket, nonlatex gloves, adhesive cloth tape, a thermometer, compress, tweezers, and scissors. Premade kits are widely available for purchase, so you don’t have to buy everything individually.
  • Medication – If you have any medical necessities, do not risk being stranded without them. Also keep an up to date “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) card with personal contacts, allergies and medications in both your wallet and phone, in case you are found unconscious.
  • Other items to consider – A small shovel, an ice scraper and flares, which double as a firestarter, are also excellent items to keep in your vehicle.


Driving in Snow

The best winter driving tip is don’t drive at all – just stay home. When snow starts falling, toss a log on the fire and relax. If you must drive in snow or ice, here are a few tips to stay out of the ditch.

  • SLOW DOWN – It seems obvious, but speed increases the risk of losing control and the resultant damage. Leave earlier than normal, drive slowly and maintain ample distance between yourself and vehicles around you. Driving in first or second gear will also drastically limit speed and prevent the vehicle from gaining or losing momentum rapidly.
  • Acceleration – It’s fun to mash the gas and spin tires in the snow, but practice this driving skill in a large, empty, snow-covered parking lot. On the road, accelerate and brake smoothly and slowly to avoid spinning the tires.
  • Braking – In slippery conditions, braking may result in zero friction between your tires and the road, causing a loss of steering and sliding instead of stopping. One way to avoid sliding before stops is to take your foot off the gas early and let the vehicle gradually lose momentum. Stoplights will often turn green before you need to touch the brake pedal. Driving in a lower gear also helps by forcing the engine to slow the car when you stop accelerating.
  • Skidding – It takes experience to safely correct a skid. If your vehicle begins to slide, let off the gas, avoid the brakes and steer into the skid while allowing the vehicle to slow on its own. Now go back to practicing in a large, empty, snow-covered parking lot.
  • Four-Wheel Drive – It’s no surprise that most folks in cold climates will only buy vehicles for winter use that are all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4X4). Having four wheels driving your vehicle effectively doubles your traction and recovery ability compared to a two-wheel drive.
  • Chains – In mountainous regions, it is mandatory to carry tire chains in high elevation areas and to install them when weather turns sour. Some places also allow studded tires, but both chains and studs do heavy damage to road surfaces, so only install them where legal or required.
  • Snow Tires – The initial cost of snow tires can be significant, but you won’t use them year-round, so they don’t wear as fast. You may get five seasons of use from a set. Snow tires are designed to stay soft and flexible when cold, for better traction and control, and they have a deeper tread design that reroutes snow and slush out of the treads, keeping water and ice from building up. The treads also have biting edges with many slits to provide extra grip on slick roads.The downsides to snow tires include being noisier, wearing out faster in warmer temperatures and potentially reducing fuel economy. Still, they are a smart investment in safety that helps protect your vehicle and your life.

Driving during any winter storm is risky, if not dangerous. Winter storms, severe weather and slick road conditions are a factor in 500,000 crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to AAA.

Stay safe by preparing your vehicle for winter and preparing yourself with the right driving skills and the right tools and knowledge in case of a cold-weather emergency.


Why is there this hard to Flush Slime in my Radiator?

Why is there Sludge or Slime in my Radiator?

Cooling-system issues account for nearly 40 percent of engine failures. Clearly, it pays to take care of your vehicle’s cooling system.

Sludge/slime are one of the common symptoms of larger problems. Left unchecked, it’ll plug the radiator, heater core or fluid passages, resulting in overheating and expensive repairs.

What causes sludge/slime and what can you do about it?

• Additives dropping out – coolant consists of a base (typically ethylene glycol or propylene glycol) mixed with additives and water. The base is primarily responsible for providing freeze and boil-over protection. The additives guard against corrosion, cavitation and scaling. Mixing of incompatible coolants can cause the additives to “drop out” of the solution and form sludge or slime.

• Contaminated coolant – a bad head gasket or cracked cylinder head can allow oil and coolant to mix, resulting in sludge. In vehicles with automatic transmissions, the engine-cooling system also cools the transmission. A breach in the system can contaminate coolant with transmission fluid.

• Corrosion – occurs when an imbalanced coolant chemically reacts with metallic surfaces, forming reddish deposits that can appear as sludge or slime.

Low-quality coolants can lead to cooling-system corrosion.

The only way to definitively identify what’s causing sludge/slime in your radiator is to perform fluid analysis. The report can identify oil, transmission fluid or other contaminants in the coolant. Fix any mechanical defects and flush the cooling system. Refill with a high-quality antifreeze/coolant.

What kind of coolant should I use?

Let’s start with what kind you should avoid.

You’re no doubt familiar with the conventional “green” coolants found at most retailers due to their low price. They contain inorganic salts, such as nitrites, phosphates and silicates.

Inorganic salts deplete quickly – typically in two years or less – and are on the environmental watch list. Once depleted, they are the source of common cooling-system problems, like scale deposits and sludge/slime.

Low-cost “green” coolants are the source of several problems, such as sludge/slime and scale deposits.

For these reasons, most vehicle manufacturers have moved away from inorganic salts for newer vehicles.

And so should you.

Instead, use a high-quality coolant that uses organic-acid technology (known as OATs). OATS coolants are much more robust and longer-lasting. They virtually eliminate drop-out, scaling and compatibility issues inherent to inorganic salts. This type of coolant can be used in a wide variety of applications, even mixing with other coolants as a top-off.

AMSOIL Antifreeze/Coolants

AMSOIL offers three coolants, all of which offer a unique blend of organic acids. We use di-acid technology, which means both ends of the organic acid are active. This makes them work faster and form stronger bonds for enhanced protection.

How Engine Wear & Deposits Kill Horsepower

Common Engine Wear & Deposits Will Kill Horsepower

Most people equate engine wear and deposits with a sudden, catastrophic engine failure that leaves you stranded alongside the road. In reality, wear and deposits are more likely to erode engine power and efficiency over time. Here’s how it works and what you can do about it.

Engine compression = power

For your engine to produce maximum power, the combustion chamber must seal completely during the compression and combustion strokes. Wear and deposits can prevent the valves or piston rings from sealing, allowing pressurized gases to escape the combustion chamber and take potential engine power with them.

To illustrate, imagine using a hydraulic floor jack. Pumping the handle will raise the vehicle as long as the release valve is tightly seated and doesn’t leak. A poorly sealed release valve, however, allows pressure to escape, causing the vehicle to sink to the ground no matter how much you pump the jack handle.

The same principle applies inside your engine. If some of the pressure created during the compression and combustion strokes is lost due to valves and piston rings that don’t seal completely, the engine will create less power.

engine wear identified

Wear & deposits reduce compression

Over time, deposits or valve wear can prevent the valves from closing completely, interfering with a good seal. Wear can also interfere with proper valve operation, disrupting optimum fuel/air flow.

If the piston rings do not seal tightly against the cylinder wall, pressurized combustion gases can escape past the rings and enter the crankcase, taking potential power with it.

Worn or stuck piston rings produce the same effect. The rings are designed to move freely in their grooves and press tightly against the cylinder wall. They should form a seal that prevents fuel/air from escaping. Ring wear can interfere with formation of a tight seal. Likewise, deposit buildup can cause the rings to stick in their grooves, also preventing a good seal. As a result, some fuel/air escapes the combustion chamber during compression, reducing power. On the combustion stroke, pressurized gases can blow by the rings and travel down the cylinder wall and into the oil sump, taking potential power with them. This is what’s meant when someone says an engine has lost compression.

(Check out our 5 Ways to Boost Horsepower for Under $500)

AMSOIL Signature Series helps prevent the problem

AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil provides…

  • 75 percent more engine protection against horsepower loss and wear*
  • 90% better protection against sludge **

Its outstanding performance helps prevent deposits and wear that rob engines of horsepower, helping preserve that like-new feeling you crave when driving.


*Based on independent testing of AMSOIL Signature Series 0W-20, in ASTM D6891 as required by the API SN specification.

**Based on independent testing of AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30 in the ASTM D6593 engine test for oil screen plugging as required by the API SN specification.

A closer Look At Engine Sludge

Preventing Causes of Engine Oil SLUDGE

Brands matter, quality matters and frequent oil changes will not alter this. It’s all based on the additive quality and it does effect the price.

Engine sludge occurs when oxidized oil and contaminants build up on engine surfaces. It can restrict the flow of oil to the point of engine failure and costly repairs.

As the oil installed in your vehicle ages, oxygen reacts with the lubricant, resulting in a permanent chemical change. The oil picks up oxygen and becomes thicker. Just like oxygen attacks metal surfaces and causes corrosion, it negatively affects lubricants and reduces their ability to lubricate, cool and protect components. Excessive heat speeds the oxidation process. In fact, every 18°F (10°C) increase in temperature doubles the rate of oxidation.

Adding to the challenge, contaminants begin to form during normal operation. In engines, hot combustion gases can blow by the piston rings and contaminate engine oil. Glycol from engine coolant, water that forms with temperature fluctuations and fuel are other common contaminants that affect lubricants. Left unchecked, contaminants accelerate chemical reactions, which overload the lubricant and cause the formation of sludge – a gelatinous substance that wreaks havoc in engines.

Sludge can block the oil passages and oil-pump pick-up screen, resulting in oil starvation. Often, the negative effects are cumulative rather than sudden. Many engines with variable valve timing (VVT) use oil pressure-operated mechanical devices to change valve timing, duration and lift. Sludge can plug the solenoid screen or oil gallies and impact the operation of VVT mechanisms, eventually leading to a costly repair bill. Sludge reduces efficiency and increases time and money spent on maintenance.

Signature Series vs. Sludge

Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil was subjected to the Sequence VG test to measure its ability to prevent sludge. As expected, Signature Series produced an oil pick-up tube screen virtually free from sludge (see image below). Our unique combination of detergents and high-quality base oils control oxidation and sludge to keep engines clean and efficient.

AMSOIL synthetic lubricants not only resist oxidation and sludge formation, they can help clean existing deposits in neglected engines due to superior detergency. With modern engines and equipment demanding higher-quality lubricants, it’s good to know AMSOIL synthetic lubricants are formulated to protect against sludge in the toughest operating conditions.

Sludge: a gelatinous substance that wreaks havoc in engines.





Signature Series has 50 percent more
detergents¹ to help keep oil passages clean and promote oil circulation. It provides 90% better protection against sludge².



Synthetic Warehouse note:

We own an ecoboost engine (on our Ford van) so based on our personal experience the Signature Series is the only choice in these engines. They run extremely hot effecting the process mentioned above. Test the oil you are using now at or near Ford’s maximum interval and I’m certain it’s beyond it’s life!! TBN and Oxidation levels can be at dangerous levels.  Signature Series gives you that extra benefit of the doubt because when the detergents dissipate you can start to have severe wear from corrosion and of course needless deposits from sludge AND increased oil consumption. We eliminated 75% of a resent F150 Ecoboost V6 oil consumption problem using the Engine Flush (FLSH) and the Signature Series 5W-30 (ASL).

It’s not just about keeping your car or truck longer. It’s the issues our competition causes such as carbon coating your intake valves which is an issue on modern gasoline direct injection engines.  It’s very costly to clean these as there is no-longer the gasoline we enjoyed as the cleaning agent. Fuel is shot directly into the quench area so oil vapors land on valves and build up over time.
Some newer cars do have an additional injector in the throttle body for start-up and cleaning but this will not be the common setup.

So AMSOIL Signature series will keep these areas cleaner as that’s part of what you are paying for. AMSOIL’s lowest volatility is by far worth paying for. And in some cases you pay less for our product than several of the “so called synthetics”.

Make our Sioux Falls locations your only source for lubricants! Many have made the switch for good. We’re at 47073 98th St just behind Marlins Diner. Exit 73 on I29. Or call to make sure I’m there at 605-274-2580.