In adopting a proactive mindset with respect to preventive equipment maintenance, you also have to trust your instincts. Sometimes operators know when something is wrong. They can sense it—or maybe even see it. The key is to have them note it right away before something goes terribly wrong.
"When the operator is going through his morning checklist, he might see things that normally might not be noticed," says Jason Hicks, service manager for West Chester Lawn & Garden in Liberty Township, OH. "Worn parts such as wiring or throttle/choke cable, a loose air filter cover, etc. should be noted and later looked at by either your maintenance manager or servicing dealer. This could spare you downtime and big expenses in the future."
Jay Gaskins of STI-Turf Care Equipment—with outlets in North and South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee—points to a few other odds and ends you should keep an eye on:
Tighten loose fasteners. It's ideal to do this at the same time you're having the oil changed.
Fuel and fuel mix. This is obviously critical when it comes to two-cycle and hybrid-type engines. Mix gas and oil properly and use the right oil. Also, old/stale fuel sitting up in equipment that is seasonal or rarely used will cause downtime and/or poor performance.
Tire plug kit. Keep one in the truck and know how to use it. This very small investment will save you a lot of time as your tires pick up nails, screws, irrigation flags, etc. from time to time.