Maintenance: What to Check When You Use Your Tractor

What To Check Every Time You Use Your Tractor

The Four Most Important Things

Seems like when I talk to a new tractor owner ,there’s often a question about what to check every time you use your tractor. Truth is, whether you have a brand new machine or an older tractor, there are some things you should be checking every time you work with your tractor. Here’s what I told Tom, a viewer who wrote me with questions.

The first thing you need to do is take a look in your owner’s manual. If you recently acquired your tractor, you probably have the manual and know where it is.

If you’re driving an older tractor you may not have a manual. But your dealer will, and it’s a really good idea to get on over to the dealership and order one for yourself.

Once you’ve got a manual in hand, page to the service and maintenance section. It’s going to tell you what you should check and at what intervals. And there are some things they’ll list as items you need to check every time you get on and off the tractor.

No Maintenance, No Warranty Coverage

Now, I’m not going to cover items specific to any one tractor here, but I am going to tell you the four areas where I know the major failures – the major breakdowns – may occur. These are often expensive repairs, because if you have a new tractor these breakdowns may not be covered under your warranty.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that when they buy a tractor with a two year or five year (or whatever year warranty) that they don’t have to do any maintenance on it for that amount of time.

Nope. That is not the case. And if your dealer finds out you’ve not been maintaining your machine, then the warranty could be void.

Four Major Potential Problem Areas: Lubrication, Fuel, Air Filter, Radiator

Lubrication, Always Worth the Time Spent

Every time you get on the tractor, you want to check engine oil, even on a new tractor. Why? Well, it’s possible that as the rings seat on a new tractor, you’re to burn a little bit of oil. So check the engine oil, as well as the ring seat. You don’t want to run your brand new tractor low on oil.

Lubrication maintenance also includes things like PTO shafts. The plastic shield on them needs to be lubricated. In fact, everything on the PTO shaft needs to be greased every time you get on the tractor because the shaft is spinning really fast, and grease goes out quickly. There’s a grease zerk on the PTO shaft at the u-joints and on any PTO driven implement those almost always need some extra grease. And if you want to make greasing easy and clean, take a look at the Lube Shuttle Grease Gun.)

Check your hydraulic oil and engine oil. Some tractors have brake fluid, but not all. Some have power steering units and some use the hydraulic system of the tractor for the power steering. Find all these oil points and check them as recommended by the owner’s manual. But engine oil – I’d check that every time I got on and off the tractor.

Keep Your Fuel Clear of Contamination

Almost all modern tractors have a plastic or glass bowl where you can look and see if there’s any water or debris in your fuel system. Dirty fuel, or fuel with water in it, can cause an expensive injection system failure. That’s especially true with these newer tractors that have tight tolerances in the injection system. In fact, we’re seeing a lot of failures with newer tractors because of contaminated fuel. So look in that bowl every time you get on the tractor. If you see water or debris in there, get it out immediately and find out where it’s coming from. Clean fuel is extremely important.

The Air Filter Needs To Be Clean

Now I’m not advocating you take the air filter out of the tractor every time you use it, but a lot of these air filters have a little burp tube underneath them. Open that thing up and let the chunks come out. If you do see a lot of debris in there, it might be time to open the air filter up and tap the dirt out of it. This is particularly true if you’ve been
in really dusty conditions.

Keep An Eye on Radiator Fluid Levels

Your tractor engine needs proper cooling, so always keep an eye on the radiator fluid level. And when you’re ready to use the track do a quick check on your radiator tomake sure it is not plugged up with dust dirt seeds or debris. Those items can clog you up pretty badly, meaning you’re not getting cooling. Anytime you’re out using a brush hog or a rotary cutter, watch your temperature gauge to make sure you’re not overheating.

If you do have a clogged radiator, you can always get a leaf blower and try to blow it out. But honestly, the best thing is to buy a Radiator Genie and either use compressed air or water to really flush that radiator out.

Follow the owner’s manual religiously on service intervals and watch these four areas, and you’ll help ensure a long life for your tractor and you won’t have a failure that’s not covered under a new tractor warranty.

Tractor Mike


  1. Greg. Wells on at 20:03

    Thanks, Great reminders.

  2. Karl Randle on at 14:27

    Great videos Mike. Need to save my coins up and purchase light kit. Great idea with magnets…Thanks for your information. Karl

  3. J. R. Gibson on at 17:41

    I liked reading your post —— good advice Makes a man think thank you very much. Mike. JR (Buddy) Gibson

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