Whether your tractor is old or new, you want to do all you can to keep it in good shape. As you gear up for the changing season, it's important to be sure you aren't facing any potential problems that could leave your farm equipment in dire straits. Follow these six seasonal maintenance tips for great performance on your farm.
1. Change the oil.
The best time of year to change oil in a tractor is in the fall. Temps are low, and a lighter weight oil can typically be used because of this. Even if you don't plan to use your tractor in the fall or winter, it's a good idea to fill it up with a fresh supply so you don't have to worry about corroded oil sitting in your tractor and damaging your engine.
How often you change it will depend on the guidelines set forth in the manual. The frequency is based on hours of usage as opposed to miles driven. But it should be done at least every six months to prevent moisture from building up.
Many people prefer to hire someone to change their tractor's oil, but you can do it yourself, too. Just be sure to inspect the used oil for metal filings and other things that can indicate trouble. You should also consider having periodic oil scans done. They're relatively inexpensive and can show any contaminants present.
2. Change air and fuel filters.
Your tractor's air and fuel filters catch all kinds of impurities that could potentially circulate through your engine and affect performance. Changing them regularly or with the seasons can keep your tractor running great during its heaviest use.
A study conducted at the University of Missouri showed that power output could be increased by an average of 3.5% just by changing the filters. It may not sound like a lot, but over time, that's a pretty good return. In fact, it's the equivalent of bumping a 200-hp engine up by 7 hp.
3. Inspect the coolant.
Antifreeze protects the engine and radiator during the hottest and coldest months. So, before the weather changes, it's important to check this fluid for any potential problems.
When the engine is cool, remove the radiator cap and check the levels both in the radiator and the overflow bottle. The color of antifreeze should be bright green or yellow. If it looks rusty or watered down, it could be time for a flush.
You can also use a hydrometer to ensure the antifreeze has maintained its integrity and has the proper freeze point and boiling point.
4. Check the spark plugs.
Bad spark plugs can cause the tractor's engine to run rough. If you have a heavy load you're pulling, you'll lack the power needed, and you may have smoke coming out of the exhaust from the strain on the engine.
At the start of the season, it's a good idea to have your spark plugs checked by a professional to determine if a tune-up is needed.
5. Inspect the battery.
The biggest threat to a battery is corrosion that forms on the cables. Doing a quick visual inspection to be sure the cables are clean and tight, especially at the terminals, can save you the frustration of a tractor that won't start. You can also test the battery with a voltage meter and be prepared to replace if it gives a low reading.
6. Check the tires.
Different tractors have different kinds of tires. But no matter what kind you have, inspecting them before the temps heat up or plummet can save you the hassle of dealing with a flat in the middle of the field.
Check your owner's manual for instructions on how to tighten the wheel lugs and how often it should be done. Inspect for cracks, nails, thorns, and signs of dry rot. Keep the tire pressure at the recommended levels for the tires themselves and the work that's being done. For more information, contact companies like Potestio Brothers Equipment, Inc.