• By Adam Probst, Extension Agent

Agriculture & Natural Resources -Routine tractor maintenance

Tractor maintenance is critical especially with the cold weather we’ve been experiencing lately. Making sure all components are working in weather extremes is important to avoid breakdowns that cost even more. Whether feeding cows during the winter or getting ready for spring planting, here are a few tips from our Extension Agricultural Engineer, Dr. Tim Stombaugh, on some routine tractor maintenance.

Don’t let the maintenance of your tractor go by the wayside when you get busy. There’s a tendency to put maintenance on the back burner as spring and summer field activities get into full swing. Often when thinking about maintenance, it is the implement that’s thought about, and the tractor is ignored.

A simple front-to-back routine every week can help to remember key maintenance points. The manufacturer will have suggested intervals for most of the maintenance tasks, so everything won’t have to be done every week. But the routine will prompt to ask if it is time to do specific tasks.

Start with the front axles and steering. Is it time to grease those bearings and steering components? Make sure nothing is loose. Next, check the coolant system. Make sure the coolant levels are adequate. Make sure the radiator is not plugged up with debris.

Next, take a look at the belts. Make sure they have the right tension and that they are not cracked. This will prompt to have a spare on hand. Look at the air cleaner. Make sure it’s not plugged up and robbing power from the engine by not allowing air to get through.

Take a look at the engine oil. This should be checked daily, but if hasn’t been, a good time to do it is during the weekly inspection. Also check the fluid itself. Make sure it doesn’t have any contaminants or water in it.

If the battery is not a maintenance-free battery, check to make sure the liquid levels are adequate. Check the cables for corrosion and make sure they aren’t rubbing against the frame components.

Move on to the clutch and brake linkages. When using a tractor every day, it may not be noticed when the linkage is getting out of adjustment. Make a specific effort to check for free play and other adjustments on the linkage.

Look at the hydraulic reservoir. Make sure the fluid is at the correct level and be sure to change the fluid when needed. Not only does the system provide fluids for remote cylinders, but it is the critical lubricating force in the tractor’s transmission.

Look at tires to make sure they have the proper inflation. Make sure the back of the tractor is clean, especially where the hydraulic hoses are connected, so it doesn’t get dirt in the system.

These simple procedures can extend the life of tractors, thereby protecting a critical investment. For more information on equipment maintenance, contact the Woodford County Cooperative Extension Service.

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