by Ron Hadaway

Improvements to Tier 4 engines help burn cleaner fuel and reduce air emissions. To meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel requirement standards, Tier 4-compliant engines—designed with high-pressure common rail (HPCR) systems and fuel injectors—use ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel.

Water can be introduced into fuel as early as the refinery stage and continue to be present through the terminal, distributor and pump stages. During cold weather conditions, water molecules can detach from diesel molecules, and because they are heavier than diesel molecules, they tend to settle at the bottom of diesel fuel tanks and bulk storage tanks. This can cause potential engine problems in equipment and lead to bacteria growth in the tanks. Today’s lower sulfur amounts in diesel fuel multiplies saturates, which increases the tendency of fuel to gel and plug the fuel filter during cold weather conditions.

The following eight fuel management best practices can help reduce machine downtime and costly injector plugging from water, debris and other contaminants found in diesel fuel.

Tip 1: Test bulk fuel tanks every six months.

When storing diesel fuel, the last thing you want is water or other contaminants in your storage tank. Water can degrade the fuel chemical structure and eventually lead to pump, filter and injector problems.

Every six months, you or a professional diesel fuel cleaning and inspection service should test your supply tanks for contaminants. A small amount of water can be removed, but if significant amounts of water or sludge are found, the entire tank should be drained and cleaned. To help monitor your supply tank, keep a preventive maintenance log for the tank that includes maintenance history, filter changes and particle counts.

Tip 2: Keep supply tank fuel filters clean.

Often machines are filled with a 5- or 10-gallon plastic container. How do you know that the container is completely clean or how the fuel was stored before adding it to the container? To bypass these issues, make sure any fuel entering a storage tank passes through a dispensing filter, which will help increase the effectiveness of the machine’s fuel filter and help prevent contaminants from entering. Additionally, fuel tank filters should be capped and the tank vent must be filtered. Tank filters typically have a 10-micron-or-fewer fuel filter to help remove moisture as fuel is dispensed through the vent.

Tip 3: Fill machine tanks at the end of each workday.

Diesel fuel can reach high temperatures during the workday. As the machine cools, condensation can form in air gaps. Make sure every machine is filled with diesel fluid at the end of the day to reduce your maintenance costs.

Tip 4: Use 2-micron fuel filters.

Some fuel filters chosen for HPCR engines are highly effective at trapping down to 2-micron contaminants and removing free and emulsified water. No filter will remove all contaminants. However, using the cleanest fuel possible and an efficient fuel filter help minimize the amount of particles entering the machine. Additional fuel filter best practices include:

  • Drain the water trap daily.
  • Never prefill a new filter during installation.
  • Never open fuel connections in the system downstream of the fuel filter.
  • Use the manufacturer’s recommended replacement fuel filter.

In case contaminated fuel is used in a machine, it is best to purchase an extra fuel filter for every Tier 4, HPCR-engine-equipped machine.

Tip 5: Prepare for cold weather.

Much of the chemistry added in the ULSD fuel can present challenges for diesel fuel suppliers to consistently provide fuel that performs well in cold climates. However, you can utilize cold-weather practices, which include removing trapped water from your machine’s fuel filter daily, maintaining your machine’s battery state of charge for optimum cranking speed, installing an engine block heater and choosing the best engine oil and hydraulic/hydrostatic oil for the conditions. Maintain a cold-weather kit and follow the cold-starting procedures in your operation and maintenance manual.

Tip 6: Attend a fuel management clinic.

Heavy equipment dealers should be trained on fuel management, and they may host events to accurately relay those tips to you and your operators. On a daily basis, dealers can help assess your situation provide a plan on how to treat any fuel-related issues.

Tip 7: confirm the fuel’s cloud point.

A fuel’s cloud point is the temperature at which wax begins to drop out of fuel, creating a translucent appearance. The wax forms crystals—50 to 200 microns in size—that can quickly plug the fuel filter. The cloud point from the refinery is based on the geographic location and the time of year that the fuel is intended to be used, so make sure to ask your supplier to confirm the fuel’s cloud point.

Tip 8: Identify poor-quality fuel suppliers.

Seeking diesel fuel that meets your needs and choosing a reputable supplier are important. You may have to pay more for clean fuel, but investing in quality fuel that is blended appropriately for the climate may lower your consumption, provide fewer filter changes and deliver longer component life. Two questions you should ask before you buy are: “What micron level of filtration is used on your delivery line?” and “Is this the best fuel available for current conditions?” A good distributor will provide diesel that meets specifications for all environments.


This article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of Construction Business Owner magazine. Visit to read more.


RTL Equipment, Inc. has been a major sponsor for several years of the Iowa Children’s Open golf tournament held each year at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville, IA. The golf outing celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, with all proceeds going to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and the Iowa Children’s Museum, which is responsible for the Child Life Program at the hospital . This year, we are delighted to announce that the tournament raised a record amount of $144,000. RTL Equipment, Inc. would like to thank A1 Crane, Tri-State Crane, Doosan Construction, Kobelco Cranes, Tadano Cranes and Terex Cranes for their generous support of this event.

RTL Equipment Sponsors Tournament for Children's HospitalRTL Equipment Works in the Community

RTL Equipment has machines working throughout the entire country, including Iowa. This Terex HC165 was rented to Weitz Construction from RTL Equipment. The photo is of the HC165 doing heavy lifting at the Iowa State University football stadium expansion.

If you are interested in learning more about the various cranes, crawlers, wheel loaders, forklifts, and other machines available to rent or buy from RTL, browse our equipment section.


Terex HC165 from RTL Equipment

Terex HC165 at the ISU football stadium expansion

We enjoy seeing our clients working with the cranes, excavators, forklifts, and other machines they purchase from our team here at RTL Equipment. Below we highlight two cranes we recently sold here in Iowa.

The Terex AC350, and AC200 all-terrain cranes are owned by Tri-State Crane & Rigging Service of Cedar Rapids, and its sister company, A1 Crane of Dubuque, Iowa. They are being used for the construction of the new University of Iowa School of Music in Iowa City. Approximately 7000 tons of structural steel is involved in this project.

The Terex HC110 lattice crawler crane is owned by Godberson-Smith Construction Company located in Ida Grove, Iowa. The crane has been used in construction of a temporary bridge on Highway 196 in Sac County.

The Terex HC110 lattice crawler crane is pictured on the far left followed by four pictures of the Terex AC350, and AC200 all-terrain cranes.


Terex HC110 Lattice Crawler Crane in IowaTerex AC350 from RTL EquipmentTerex Cranes For Sale Terex Cranes in Iowa from RTLTerex All-Terrain Crane For Sale

At the recent Terex Distributor Meeting in Houston, Texas last month, RTL Equipment Inc. received the award for Best in Sales of Lattice Boom Crawler Cranes in North America (HCs). Members of the RTL team accepted the award from the Terex staff.


RTL Equipment - Best Lattice Boom Crawler Cranes

The RTL team with their Best in Sales of Lattice Boom Crawler Cranes in North America award

RTL is expanding again in Eastern Iowa.  We have seen our business grow over the last three years in Eastern Iowa.  We have purchased a facility on two acres, South of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, outside of Swisher, Iowa.  The facility has 27,400 square feet of space for additional service support, storage, and office space.

Our additional location is:

RTL Equipment, Inc.

1321 Highway 965 NW

Swisher, Iowa   52338

Phone:    (319) 857-4045


The RTL Equipment facility located near Cedar Rapids, Iowa