3 Things All New Farmers Should Know About Tractor Care

Posted on: 22 September 2016

As a new farmer, you have a lot to learn. But as you already know, a well-running tractor is vital to your business and success. When properly cared for, a tractor can last 15 years or more, so it pays to learn a thing or two. Here are three important tips on caring for your tractor to help you avoid costly repairs and other problems.

Routine Maintenance

According to Robert Cross, an agricultural-engineering instructor, the number-one cause of significant tractor breakdown and other issues is not replacing hydraulic hoses as needed and neglecting to change the oil, fuel, and air filters. He also recommends regularly checking fluid levels as well as getting to know your tractor intimately, like learning the sounds it makes and how it "feels" while it's in operation.

Another way to identify problems early on and avoid major repair issues is by conducting simple and quick inspections both before and after use. By doing this, you can catch things like fluid leaks, loose parts, and the beginning stages of corrosion. Keep track of what's normal with your equipment, how long it's been since parts have been replaced, and so forth.

You'll also want to make note of any smoke coming out of the exhaust and what the color is. If you get one little burst as you're pulling a heavy load, this could be perfectly normal. But if you're experiencing heavy puffs of blue, black, or white smoke on a regular basis, this could signify engine problems that need to be addressed right away.

Prevention of Corrosion

Corrosion and oxidation inside the engine are common problems, and they are typically due to one of several causes, the first of which is water.

When it rains, water can travel down the exhaust pipe and through an open valve, hitting the muffler and running into the cylinder and onto the pistons. Prevention is pretty simple: keep your tractor stored underneath adequate cover inside a barn, or simply shield the exhaust pipe with something that will block the entrance of water. A lot of farmers use an empty tin can as a blocking device.  

The second cause of corrosion is the lack of sufficient lubrication for all of the tractor's moving parts. This includes not only the engine and transmission but also the brakes and clutch. Here are just a few things that a good lubricant can do for your tractor.

  • Prevent sludge buildup and the thickening of fluids
  • Provide friction protection to prevent squeaky brakes
  • Protect against corrosion caused by water contamination
  • Promote increased viscosity for superior performance in cold weather
  • Protect against excessive wear on gears, bearings, and hydraulic pumps

So how do you know if you've found a quality lube? Look for one that is specifically formulated and branded for use in farm tractors, lists Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specs, is labeled as multi-purpose so that it targets all moving parts, and states that it can be used year round in hot and cold temperatures.  

Proper Repairs

If you own a modern tractor, you can still do basic maintenance as mentioned above, but if you find yourself in need of repairs, you're going to have to contact the manufacturer. Thanks to DMCA laws brought about by a major farming equipment manufacturer, tractor owners have to contact the company or an authorized dealer whenever they get any sort of indication that something is wrong with their tractor.

While many farmers are working with legislation to change these regulations, it's still important to abide by them to avoid breaking any laws or voiding your warranty.

Incidentally, if you live in Nebraska, you'll be glad to know that residents are working on getting the Fair Repair bill approved. This would allow both farmers and local mechanics to legally repair tractors whenever issues arise. Other states that are working on a similar bill include Massachusetts, New York, and Minnesota. 

For more information about tractor repair, talk to a professional such as Potestio Brothers Equipment, Inc.