Tier 4 Interim Machine Maintenance and Where to Begin

by Visitor RoyBrookhart ‎09-20-2013 05:40 PM - edited ‎09-26-2013 02:44 PM

tier4-maintenance.jpgRegular machine maintenance is an important part of the fleet management strategy in achieving higher machine efficiency, improved productivity and reduced downtime. Scheduled maintenance planning is a preventative strategy that enables machine owners and operators to effectively plan for repairs, costs and downtime. Since maintenance schedules and intervals differ by several qualifying factors, it’s easy to apply the wrong strategy.


This becomes even more important for Tier 4 Interim machine maintenance because it’s that much more segmented. While some routine maintenance steps have been eliminated or reduced with improved technology, not all Tier 4 Interim maintenance requirements are the same—sometimes not even within the same machine family. And remember, when we talk about Tier 4 machines, we have to keep in mind that Tier 4 Interim and Tier 4 Final machines exist and some of those requirements can be different.


Maintenance Differences between Tier 4 Interim Machines and Previous Generations

Tier 4 Interim machines have special requirements for fuel and engine oil to maintain emissions standards. Some require a special fuel additive; others require a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which may need periodic replacement. The fact remains that Tier 4 Interim maintenance differs from previous generations and is further segmented by machine type, size and manufacturer.


We can break this down further by dissecting and comparing specific machine examples. Some Tier 4 Interim Cat® machines have eliminated a few traditional maintenance requirements with the implementation of Tier 4 Interim technology. For example, the Cat Dozers C4.4 engine no longer requires a periodic valve adjustment, which saves time and reduces maintenance costs.


While some Tier 4 Interim Cat machines have completely eliminated some maintenance requirements, others have designed component configurations to make maintenance easier. For example, the DPF in the Cat Tier 4 Interim-compliant Backhoe Loaders is mounted on the frame and outside of the engine compartment, which leaves the engine compartment wide open for easy, routine maintenance.




In addition to reduced maintenance requirements, some Tier 4 Interim Cat machines are equipped with specialized software, like Product Link, for remote monitoring and data acquisition. For example, the Cat Small Wheel Loader family software package includes onboard monitors that help operators identify the best procedures for reaching high efficiency. Important data, like machine fault codes, are stored to aid in troubleshooting for reduced downtime.


Considering Your Tier 4 Interim Maintenance Options

The best way to get the most out of your maintenance strategy is to be familiar with your fleet and its unique maintenance requirements. No two maintenance strategies will be the same because each fleet is made up of different machines that serve different applications and job requirements. You can build a successful maintenance schedule by taking advantage of available resources to make more informed decisions regarding maintenance strategy.


Assess your current maintenance strategies. If your maintenance practices for your Tier 4 Interim machines are driven by an older generation of machines, it could lead to unexpected downtime, premature component failure or machine warranty void.


Keep service manuals on hand. Using manufacturers’ recommended maintenance intervals and service requirements will help avoid unnecessary costs and downtime. You can modify recommendations to fit your specific job requirements.


Contact your local representative. Your local dealer will be able to provide more detailed information about your maintenance strategy options customized for your specific needs.


We’d like to hear about your experience with Tier 4 Interim maintenance.

  • What questions do you have regarding Tier 4 Interim maintenance?
  • How does your Tier 4 Interim maintenance differ from machines in your fleet from previous generations?
  • What can Caterpillar do to make Tier 4 Interim maintenance easier?

by Visitor mrzmrz58
on ‎09-27-2013 04:35 AM

I own the competitors brand of Construction Equipment in particular a 2011 tier 4 Excavator w Telematics.  I also own a 2008 510 hp Challenger articulated 4wd Tractor pulling pan scrapers.  I cannot believe in the last 10 years how important fuel filters have become in the diesel engine world.  My 2008 Cat C18 engine needs fuel and water filters changed frequently.  With all the technology increases in electronic injection I am surprised that the Engineers have not been more in tune to this increase cost of maintenance and then when you go to Regen Cycles on Tier 4 Engines and the fuel diffusers in the particulate filter area of the exhaust system it seems like all we have done for the end user is add costs.  As an Ag Engineering grad from Purdue this kind of diesel engine developement seems to go against what we engineers were educated to do.  Make improvements and reduce costs and make equipment more effecient



Mark Zeltwanger

by Trusted Contributor
on ‎09-27-2013 11:02 AM

  As a heavy duty tech with more years of experience than I want to talk about, the comments from this user, leave me with some questions. Regarding fuel filter maintenance, I am left wondering what is plugging the filters to begin with?? Methods of fuel handling would be one of the first things I would be looking at. If the Cat branded filters were lesser in quality and plug less often, costly injector problems and early replacement would be the result.

   As for the water filter replacement issue, what is triggering the need to replace the filters? Are you using coolant sampling?? If Cat DEAC is being used with local water to mix, maybe you should think about doing a cooling system flush with Cat cooling system cleaner, then switch to Cat ELC.

by Visitor RoyBrookhart
on ‎10-29-2013 02:52 PM

Sorry for the delay in my response but I was waiting on the results of a recent test done on filters and fuel injectors. 


As injector pressures increase, maximizing injector life demands filtration capable of limiting the size and number of particles that get through the filter.  We tested Cat and various competitive filters to determine the life of the injectors.  Using contaminated fuel, we found that the injectors with Cat filtration lasted 45% longer than the nearest competitor.  Not all filters are built to the same standards.


Protecting the critical fuel system components in today's engines has placed a higher demand on the fuel filters.    I recommend that we all take a hard look at our practices and procedures for storing and handling fuel.  If we are putting dirty fuel into the machines, we are asking that much more of the filters.  Selecting the best filters available and improving fuel storage and handling have an immediate effect on the life of these fuel system components.


If you would like more details on our filter and injector testing, please let me know.



by New member David427
on ‎11-29-2013 08:52 AM

I think the heavy tech with more years then he can count and the CAT guy missed the point, actually I am pretty sure you both did.


CAT and most diesel OEM's should be making their product more reliable and less expensive to maintain, not more complex, finicky and expensive. Rudolf Diesel would indeed be disappointed at the current state of affairs of the diesel OEM's trying to cobble together band aids (regen systems) to hit the emission standards. Then again maybe Diesel wouldn't be upset, he invented the diesel engine trying to use coal dust as a internal combustion engine fuel.


Buy CAT branded filters! Instead of cheaper OEM filters that CAT put their name on? Not exactly the answer we were looking for.

by Visitor RoyBrookhart
on ‎12-18-2013 12:06 PM

Today's diesel engines are designed to deliver reliable, affordable power.  The introduction of the regulations associated with emissions has driven the cost up on many of the offerings.  These engines need clean fuel and fuel with drastically reduced levels of sulfur.  The new technologies associated with burning this fuel can result in longer injector life and extended engine oil and engine oil filter changes.  As we move from the older Tier 3 into the current Tier 4 and Tier 4 Interim technologies we are able to deliver much improved fuel efficiency.  As I mentioned in my first posting, some maintenance steps have been added with the new engines but other maintenance items have been eliminated.


The current engines are more complex.  We should all expect to see the engines continue to evolve to deliver the reliability, performance, and operating costs that you need to run a successful business.


Thanks for your comments.

About the Author
  • I’m an Attachments Product Application & Sales Support Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have been with Caterpillar for five years including roles in the field as a dealer sales support representative and marketing support in the skid steer and small wheel loader product groups. I graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Economics. Our goal is to provide a full portfolio of attachments for our customers to be more productive and versatile with their machines.
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  • I am a North American Product and Application Specialist for Caterpillar. In this role, I have had the opportunity to represent Caterpillar at various trade shows and train customers on new Small Wheel Loader content. I graduated from Purdue University in 2001 with a Mechanical Engineering degree and have spent the past 15 years with Caterpillar in various engineering roles. Growing up in the Mid-West, I have always loved the cold and the unique activities winter enables. Unfortunately, I had to give those up when I moved to North Carolina. I don't care what people say, you never get used to a hot climate.
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