Tractor Maintenance to Make Your Machine Last
The tractor is one of the most important items on your farm—helping you complete a wide variety of tasks easily and efficiently. That’s why it’s important to keep it in good shape with regular check-ups and upgrades. When your tractor is maintained, you’ll worry less about surprise hiccups and can keep the farm running smoothly. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about replacing it sooner than is necessary, which can turn into a surprise cost you’re not ready for.
Here’s what you need to know about tractor maintenance that will make your machine last.
Move Fast to Replace or Fix Parts
Any time you notice something broken or worn down, whether from normal wear and tear or an unusual incident, don’t let it slide. With so much to do, it can be easy to put off, but doing so can lead to further damage to the tractor. Not to mention, one worn out part can have damaging effects on other parts of the machine and can invalidate your warranty.
Monitor Fluid Levels
Many mechanics will tell you that maintaining fluid levels in your tractor is the single most important tool for keeping your tractor running well for years to come. A good mechanic can tell a lot about the health of your tractor by looking at the fluids.
Be sure to check all levels, including engine and hydraulic oils, power steering fluid, coolant and even your battery. Fluids are the lifeblood of your equipment and if they go unchecked it can lead to some pretty serious issues. Not only should you check the levels each time before you fire it up, you should also keep a close eye out for contaminants. If any oil looks dirty or appears to have water or metal flakes in it change it. More importantly, the source of the contaminant needs to be corrected to prevent further issues.
Check your radiator for oil floating in the coolant as this can be the sign of a serious issue. Also, check for leaks. That small little slow oil leak can have a pretty devastating effect if it goes unchecked for a long period of time. Let’s not forget the grease gun either. Grease is a lubricant just like engine oil. Its consistency may be different, but its role is equally important.
Oils lubricate the moving parts inside the tractor and grease lubricates the moving parts on the outside. I’ve seen lack of grease causes some pretty expensive repairs! Lubricating your tractor and equipment must be done on a more regular basis than changing the internal oils of your tractor. Usually every 8 to 10 hours of use! The outside moving parts are more susceptible to the environment and must be maintained more often.
Prepare for Winter
Just like you prep your car for the winter months, adding anti-freeze and making sure the fluids are properly leveled, you need to prepare your tractor. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Check fuel tank cap and vent for proper functioning. Look for water or sediment build-up, which is a major cause of fuel injection system failure.
- Inspect the cooling system. When running properly, this system prevents freezing and corrosion, lubricates shaft seals and reduces the chances of component erosion.
- Keep your undercarriage clear of mud, snow, and debris to maximize efficiency in the winter and reduce the likelihood of operating with loose or worn parts.
Finally, in the winter, always make sure your tractor is warmed-up before being operated:
“Warming up the machine reduces shock to components caused by cold fluids or hydraulic systems. The potential for blown hoses or O-rings increases with colder weather. Providing sufficient warm-up time will provide an operator a more productive machine as well as increase safe operation and a more comfortable operating environment,” according to How to Properly Prepare Equipment for Winter.
Regularly Check Tire Pressure
Tire pressure of your tractor is just as important as with your car and should be checked regularly. Correctly inflated tires increase the efficiency of your machine, especially when operating it on rocky or snowy terrain. Improper inflation will lead to irregular tire wear, decreased fuel efficiency, and difficulty maintaining correct mowing heights of cutting decks.
If the tire pressure in one rear tire is lower than the other it will cause the tractor to not sit level. The tire with the lower tire pressure will also flex more and cause uneven cutting. if a front tire has low pressure and you are operating a loader your bucket may not sit level. There is also an increased danger of a tire blowing out when operating with a heavy load.
Keep Your Manual Close-By
There’s no one-size-fits-all tractor maintenance manual. While basics remain the same, stick with what the manufacturer of your machine recommends. Every brand has characteristics that are unique to them and should be managed with maintenance specific to those needs.
Following manufacturer guidelines are especially important to keep your warranty valid. If you need to use your warranty coverage, your manufacturer will want to see that you have kept records showing you maintained the tractor specifically the way you were instructed to before reimbursing or covering repairs.
Maintain Your Machine
Use these simple maintenance tips and the instructions from your manufacturer to keep your tractor running for many years to come. You’ll spend less on repairs and deal with less stress when it comes to handling last-minute costs that add up quickly.
Will Nelson is the President of Nelson Tractor Company with locations in Blairsville and Jasper, Georgia. Will is a past President of the Southern Equipment Dealer’s Association and has been a dedicated board member for more than ten years. Nelson Tractor Company is actively involved in the local community participating in FFA events to support young farmers and coaching local team sports, to name a few.