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The Daily Bale
Natasha Post, Author
Tractors are extremely versatile farming machinery that’s used both for keeping the soil in shape and hauling crops. As such, tractors must be maintained year-round to prevent issues, even if the tractor is less utilized in colder months of the year. Keeping on top of a regular maintenance schedule will help to keep prized farming equipment in excellent condition for years to come.
Maintaining Your Tractor So It's Spring-Ready
Spring is a busy season on most farms, not just on farms that have calving or lambing happening. Sowing, fertilizing, crop-spraying, and other vital jobs all typically complete with the help of a tractor throughout the Spring months.
To make sure your tractor component is ready for its Spring workout, undertake a comprehensive inspection. A thorough check should highlight any issues with implements, attachments, or the tractor body that need to be resolved before its put into heavy use. Note any signs of damage, such as cracked chassis, torn rubber, and worn treads. Tire pressure should be monitored, and tires should be inflated to the correct pressure before first use in the Spring.
As well as exterior visual checks and tire pressure checks, interior components should be inspected. The engine is a critical component, and the battery should be checked to see if it still holds a charge. One crucial element to check is the wiring system, as it’s not unusual for tractors to become temporary homes for rodents when they’re not in use for long periods. Rodents may fray and chew wires, and you may need to get a professional to replace parts of the wiring system.
During your inspection, broken and failing parts, including belts, hoses, bearings, pulleys, and fans, should also be highlighted and replaced in advance so that you’re not risking a breakdown during the busy season. Minor changes such as oil, air, and hydraulic filter replacements should be done at least once a year to prevent clogging. Even if the filters look relatively clean and undamaged, many professionals recommended changing them yearly.
Idle and stored tractors can benefit from fuel drainage and replacement with fresh fuel unless the fuel had a stabilizer added. Even though fuel tanks are tightly sealed, you’d be surprised how many contaminants can make their way inside the tank and other fluid containers when the tractor is left idle for a few months. If you’ve noticed a significant drop in fluid levels since the tractor has been in storage, look for leaks or damage on typically sealed systems such as the tractor’s transmission. Lastly, before sending your tractor out into the field, where necessary, components should be lubricated.
Summer Tractor Maintenance Tips
Continue to use fresh fuel that has spent no more than three months in storage, when possible. New fuel should minimize condensation risk and result in easier startups and smoother operation.
Continue to monitor fluid levels, including:
- Engine oil
- Radiator fluid
- Hydraulic oil
- Wiper fluid
- Anti-freeze ratio
Excessive moisture buildup in tractor fluids can result in noisy gear shifting, poor hydraulic response times, and excessive wear and tear due to insufficient lubrication. Consider asking your tractor’s dealership to run a fluid analysis, as this will help to determine if your tractor is likely to experience any impending failures.
Pay attention to any extreme weather fluctuations, as this can affect your tractor tires. Every 10oF change can result in a necessary shift in air pressure by 1psi or more. Maintaining the correct tire pressure not only saves on tire maintenance costs throughout the year, but it saves on fuel costs. Low tire pressure increases tread wear, and prolonged exposure to UV can also exacerbate tire damage.
How to Improve Tractor Maintenance
Tractor maintenance can often be improved with a few simple tweaks to your maintenance schedule. Making sure that every piece of farm equipment gets regular servicing will reduce the likelihood of catastrophic failures. Making sure that tractors are cleaned regularly is a simple task that can increase longevity. Keep a daily checklist that looks at the tire inflation, coolant and oil checks, belt checks, and other quick surveys. Lastly, keep any service records that highlight repairs completed, results of standard checkups, and who did the work, should any maintenance issues reoccur.