Spring is coming, and your tractor is bound to get some action after months of inactivity. But before you get your machine up and running, here are nine steps to a tractor checkup for the new season.
1. Start with a visual inspection
Before delving deeper, check for obvious signs that your tractor might need special attention. This will help you identify urgent points of concern early on in the tractor checkup.
Check the tractor’s tires to make sure they’re at the right pressure. Add air if needed, but make sure not to go overboard. Check for splits, worn tread, and other signs of potential problems. Take them in for repair if needed.
While it may be tempting to delay tire repairs until they’re inevitable, remember that it’s better to bring them in now than risk walking home from the middle of the field because of a not-so-surprise breakdown. If that indeed happens, you’d have to do a mid-field repair which, again, is quite the pain in the neck.
Low temperatures take a toll on tractor batteries. Tractors that had been unused for the entire winter season may not even have enough charge to start. If that’s the case, charge the battery for a few hours to get everything up and running.
Additionally, it’s important to check the insulation on the hot battery cable to prevent a short. Lastly, secure all cable connections and replace those that are already worn out.
If your tractor runs on gasoline, it’s important to check if the fuel has gone flat. This is a possibility if your tractor had been idle all winter since the volatile compounds in the fuel evaporate over time. However, if you run on diesel, you really don’t have to do as much maintenance work as long as the filter is clean and there are no signs of contaminants in the fuel.
5. Fluids and filters
Start by checking fluid levels in your tractor. Take a look at the hydraulic oil, engine oil, gear oil, and the radiator. Change fluids depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
As for filters, changing filters at least once a year (along with changing the engine oil) is good practice.
Your tractor’s wiring can get messed up if mice or squirrel are involved in the picture. Therefore, it’s important to visually inspect everything to make sure your electricals are in order. Also, don’t forget to check if the lights are working fine.
Check the tractor’s manual to know if grease-related maintenance is due. Now is the perfect time to do it so you can minimize disruptions during busy farming periods.
Test your hand brake’s holding and stopping power. And if your tractor has two separate breaks for each side, are both of them working fine? A compromised break on just one side of the tractor puts you at risk of a rollover.
9. Rollover protection structure
Tractors are highly-susceptible to turning over—more than other types of vehicles like cars and farm trucks—owing largely to the fact that they have a high center of gravity. In fact, tractor overturns account for more fatal injuries in US farms than any other causes. This is why it’s important to always check if your tractor’s ROPS is in place. Take time to scan the welds for cracks and check the roll cage’s nuts and bolts to make sure they’re tight. Also, see to it that the seat belt is still working properly. A faulty one can make it tempting for the operator to forego using one, which is never a good idea.