Operating Heavy Equipment in Cold Weather

No matter where you operate your heavy equipment, at least within the United States, cold weather is always a possibility. Last week, there were pipes frozen in Southern Texas and Alabama, so knowing how to operate your heavy equipment in cold weather is something worth familiarizing yourself with no matter where your heavy equipment operations happen.

Boom lift rentals, scissor lifts, forklifts and more don’t need to take a day off just because the temperatures have dropped, but extra care needs to be paid before completing some otherwise-regular operations.

Check out our article on protecting your heavy equipment in cold weather, and take a look at these tips for operating your All Access equipment in cold weather.

Tips for Cold Weather Operation of Boom Lifts and Other All Access Heavy Equipment Rentals


No matter the weather, all of our rental equipment is guaranteed to be up-to-date on service with batteries, fluids, and other maintenance specifications. However, you may own and operate similar equipment, and when it’s cold it is time to be doubly sure that all of your machinery is up to specifications. Contact an All Access Service professional for more help with your service to your boom lift, scissor lift, forklift, etc. or call 888-777-5990.

Dielectric Grease

The same grease used to insulate electrical equipment to prevent water and moisture from affecting heavy equipment electrical systems can be applied in cold weather to insulate connections in cold weather and icy conditions. Connectors, spark plugs, lighting fixtures, and batteries all benefit from applications of dielectric grease in cold weather.

Battery Care

Peak winter performance in heavy equipment starts with battery care. If possible, charge your batteries for electric scissor lifts and smaller boom lifts indoors, and fill all lead batteries with distilled water at night.

Cold Weather Kits for JLG Heavy Machinery

Cold weather kits that include Battery Heaters, Hydraulic Tank Heaters, and Engine Breather Heaters are available for purchase. It is recommended that all fluids be replaced before operating in cold temperatures.

Cab Enclosure Kits for JLG Heavy Machinery

To ensure personnel stay warm and ready to complete their work, cab enclosure kits are also available to insulate operation areas in many JLG boom lift models.

Heavy Equipment and Cold Weather

Cold weather can negatively affect many parts of a construction operation, including with your boom lifts/scissor lifts/forklifts/etc. Here is a look at some of the effects cold weather has on heavy machinery and jobsites, in general.

Traction Issues

Cold temperatures don’t always mean snow, but even dirt surfaces become harder and more compact, meaning it can be hard to find traction. When rain or snow join the party, extra care needs to be taken when moving your equipment or anchoring it for aloft operations.
Remember, that even if it isn’t cold enough during the day for snow or frozen rain to fall, the surfaces from the night before can still be frozen throughout the day, and one day’s snow melt is the next day’s ice sheet!

Reduced Performance

Hydraulic fluids tend to take the biggest hit when heavy machinery is being operated in the cold. Sometimes you simply have to wait until your equipment has warmed up to be able to use it safely. Test all of your operations with a given piece of heavy equipment before operating it with personnel. Other fluids also take longer to warm up when a piece of equipment has been exposed to the elements overnight.

Seal and Joint Expansion/Contraction

Drastic changes in temperatures mean equipment naturally expands and contracts, and joints and seals in heavy equipment need to be closely checked before any boom lift or scissor lift operations following a cold spell.

Electronics and Batteries

Electric-powered heavy equipment often has reduced runtime in the cold, and some batteries won’t charge in temperatures below 40 degrees. Be sure to store your electric scissor lifts and forklifts inside if you are able to.
Other things like electronic displays may also be faulty in cold weather.


Can you use a boom lift in the snow?

Wind is a bigger issue when operating boom lifts. If the lift is on a clean, secure surface, operation in snow is permitted. No boom lifts should ever be operated in temperatures below -40 degrees, however.

How do you start heavy equipment in cold weather?

If you are able to store your equipment inside, starting it should be pretty normal. If unable to do so, block heaters can help reduce the stress on your fluids and connections before starting the machinery.

About All Access Services

Serving construction projects throughout Southern California with heavy equipment rentals, we have 3 locations in San Diego, Orange County, and Riverside to serve our clients. Each location carries a fleet of scissor lifts, telehandlersboom lifts, and forklifts available for rent at affordable rates. We strive to provide the best customer service in the industry and hope to earn your trust and business!

Serving ALL of Southern California!