13 Tips For Maintaining Your Tractor
1. Understand the basics
Keep in mind that a tractor is a mechanical device made up of a lot of different components. Considering there are so many parts, there is more chance for things to go wrong. That’s why it’s crucial for you to understand the core basics of your tractor, so that you can divide your maintenance time accordingly.
The most important components of any tractor are the engine, transmission, hydraulics and power take off. Anything else is generally cosmetic - the “bells and whistles” some might say. Protect these major components and your tractor should keep running for a long time.
One way to protect your tractor and its major components is to store your tractor in a shed, garage or outbuilding. Harsh weather can do strange things to a tractor, and too much rain will almost always hurt the exhaust system and other mechanical parts.
Another way to protect your tractor is to not overload it. If you overload your tractor there is real risk that it won’t be able to cope with the load and that it will put unnecessary strain on the engine. There’s also the risk that you could topple over or cause an accident by trying to load too much.
A third way to protect your tractor is to always keep it clean. This will help you better spot any damages, leaks or problems and will reduce the risk of blockage caused by debris.
3. Check fluids regularly
Tractor usage is measured in hours, not kilometres, so the amount of distance you travel can be hard to know. For this reason, it’s important you check fluids regularly. Leaking components can be the sign of something potentially serious, and the earlier you detect a leak the better. Fluids to check regularly include engine oil, transmitter fluid, coolant in the radiator, hydraulic oil and battery electrolyte.
4. Check the tyres
The tyres of your tractor dramatically affect how your tractor operates and when they’re not maintained and checked, they can make your tractor work harder than it needs to. Tractor tyres without the right pressure can lead to water stagnation on the land, limited development of microbial life, loss of yield and excess operating costs. To determine tyre pressure you must consider four criterias: tyre size, maximum speed, total supported weight and operating use. As a general guide, rear tyres need to be somewhere between 12 and 20 PSI and should be filled with ballast, especially when performing tasks with maximum traction required. The front tyres should be around 32 PSI.
5. Check the hydraulics
Have a look to ensure there is enough sets of hydraulic rear remotes to run your collection of implements and any you plan to implement in the future. If you have a front-loader attached, test at medium revs to see if the front of the tractor will lift.
6. Listen to the power take off
Give the power take off a run in each speed and listen for any unusual noises that may reveal wear and tear. Also look closely at the PTO spline to make sure it’s free of any damage.
7. Check belts and hoses
If your tractor has a hydraulic system it will have high pressure hoses and tubing. It’s essential that fluid can flow freely through this tubing, as any block can cause issues with steering and other areas. If you notice a hose or belt appears worn or cracked, replace it immediately. If there is any leakage from hoses or tubing, try tightening them with a wrench or consider replacing the seals.
8. Clean the radiator
Given the nature of the work it performs, it’s quite common for tractors to collect dust, dirt and debris in the radiator. It’s essential that you dislodge these items, and this can be done by blowing the debris out with a blast of air using a leaf blower. Do not try to clean the radiator with a hose, as this will only turn the debris and dirt into mud. If you notice that dirt has gotten into the water or that coolant is contaminated, flush the system out.
9. Check the filters
Again, because of the conditions that tractors are so often exposed to, it’s important that filters are cleaned weekly (preferably daily). Filters can easily get clogged, so once you’ve finished with the tractor for the say, simply give them a quick blast of air to protect against dirt, water and other items.
10. Perform an oil change
Regular oil changes will protect the life of your engine and this is especially true when purchasing a new tractor. When a tractor is first used, many fine fragments come off the moving parts in the engine and if these fragments are left in the oil too long, they can wear the engine out. Always warm the engine for a few minutes before changing the oil, which will make the oil runnier and easier to drain. Wipe any fragments away with a rag.
11. Lubricate parts
Any part of your tractor that moves should be lubricated on a regular basis. Think brake linkages, clutch linkages, ball joints, bearings, steering cylinder ball joints, steering components, three-point hitch pivot points, tie rod ends and more. Use a grease cartridge pressure gun if you can, and clean the area around the parts. Make sure not to pump too hard on the grease gun as it’s possible to stretch the seals. Once stretched, they will not retain an adequate amount of grease and risk invasion of dirt and debris as well as thermal breakdown.
12. Keep an eye on the battery
A tractor’s battery can lose its charge when it’s sat idle for a while, a common scenario for most farms. If your tractor hasn’t been in use recently, check the electrolyte and charge the battery, letting it run long enough to warm up. If the battery requires cleaning, make sure you don’t let anything metal touch, to avoid causing a spark. Carefully remove the positive wire and scrub lightly with a wire brush to clean before repeating with the negative wire.
Remember that when performing any maintenance checks safety comes first. Always stop the engine when servicing or greasing, and change wheels on a flat surface only. Keep all working areas free of obstacles and grease.
Start your maintenance routine
The earlier your start maintaining your tractor the better, so keep these tips in mind to ensure you get the most out of your tractor, for as long as possible.