If you own a farm, a tractor is an indispensable tool. Its maintenance shouldn’t be a hassle. And if you follow a set of rules, you’ll be able to keep it running for decades to come.
Reading the owner’s manual can give you some perspective on your tractor. However, it’s not always easy to read a seemingly endless sheet of technical specifications and jargon. Instead, you should make your own maintenance checklist and set a schedule accordingly.
Of course, every tractor model is slightly different from one another, but this shouldn’t discourage you. The following steps were put together when thinking about the universal rules for tractors, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Start With a Simple Visual Inspection
The first signs that your tractor needs maintenance are visible from the get-go. Pay close attention to leaks, dirt buildup, and loose hoses or cables.
Be aware that dirt buildup might be a sign of leakage, so clean it up with a cloth and check for adjacent leaks. Often times, fixing leaks only requires you to tighten drain plugs or replace a hose or clamp.
One more step you can take to fix the problem is by checking the glass sediment bowl found beneath the fuel filter. See if it has accumulated any water, oil, or other pollutants, and drain it if that’s the case. Additionally, newer tractors should also have windows that allow you to check the hydraulic reservoir fluid.
Now onto the final steps of the visual inspection. Check the lights, including the turn indicators and hazard lights. See if the tractor’s safety features are configured accordingly. For example, PTO shields should be in their proper position and fixed tightly. Also, you should check to see if the neutral start switch works adequately. That’s it. Let’s move on to the next steps.
Check Radiator and Fluid Level
You should frequently look for potential loss of fluids because it can lead to more serious problems down the line.
You should always check the radiator fluid indicator when starting the tractor. If you need to change the coolant or add some more frequently, you’ve got a problem. This might be a sign of coolant leaking into the engine, which isn’t great news.
Replace faulty head gaskets and cylinder O-rings accordingly. One other thing that might be causing this issue is a gear-driven water pump that has stopped functioning adequately. Fortunately, a tightener should be able to solve these issues. Check the user manual for more details on your specific model.
Inspect the Radiator Core, Grill Screen, and the Fan’s Drive Belt
Clear any sort of debris sitting on these components using a shop vac or even a regular vacuum to output some air pressure.
And speaking of the fan’s drive belt, you should also check the fans on your air conditioning system to see if they have collected dust or any other form of debris.
Alternatively, you could also use a pressure washer, but be careful not to bend radiator fins or damage seals and other essential tractor components.
Check the Fuel Tank
It’s a good idea to have a fresh supply of fuel for a day’s work. Partially draining your fuel tank on a daily basis is a good way to ensure that no excess water or sediment accumulates in the sediment bowl.
If you store fuel in cans, you should check said cans regularly to ensure no rust or dirt has appeared inside. Mixing pollutants with fuel isn’t a great idea. You probably don’t need us to tell you that, but it’s a good point to write down on your checklist.
Another potential hazard you should be aware of if you’re using ethanol blends is that the substance can mix with the water. Even four teaspoons of ethanol found in the presence of water can cause severe engine problems. Get a fuel conditioner to assure that the ethanol doesn’t mix with water. And don’t forget to partially drain as we told you earlier in the article.
Check the Oil Regularly
Start the engine and let it warm up a little. About three minutes should be enough. Then stop the engine and let it cool down before checking the oil level indicator or putting in the dip stick.
If your tractor is at least a few years old, it’s a good idea to also check the fuel level in the gearbox’s reservoir. And since we’ve gotten to the oil-checking part, this is also a good time to check the hydraulic and transmission fluid.
Just like low coolant levels, low oil levels also indicate problems. However, they’re easier to spot because once the oil mixes into the engine, you’ll see blue smoke coming from the shaft. If that is the case, then it’s high time you should check in an authorized service.
Set the Tire Pressure Regularly
Check the tire pressure to see if it’s at an optimal level. Wear and tear increase dramatically if the pressure is too high or too low for long amounts of time.
Normally, the recommended tire pressure found in the manual is the one you should aim for. However, you also need to take into account the type of work you plan on doing that day.
For instance, if you have to travel on a paved road, it’s a good idea to add a few pounds of extra pressure. On the other hand, if you’re planning tillage, it’s best to aim for fewer pounds than the recommended pressure.
Check the Air Filter
From time to time, approximately on a yearly basis, you check also check the air filter for potential blockages.
Check your manual to see what the recommended replacement period and sediment levels are for your specific model. Thankfully, the air filter is easier to replace than other components.
Tools and Conclusion
There are numerous tools and parts to fix your tractor you should keep handy. By following our simple guide, you’ll be able to keep the tractor running for years to come, so your farm will always look great and produce delicious food.