Making Your Tractor Last
Buying a tractor is a serious investment, especially for weekend farmers and folks who are setting up in the rural lifestyle. Most often, you’re using your tractor to help you manage a small acreage with little or no financial reward for your work. So you particularly want to protect your investment in your machine and keep it running as long as it can. Treated right, a quality tractor, can easily last 20-30 years or longer.
Now keep in mind that hour-meter hours are how long the tractor has been used. If you only use the machine a few hours a week, it may, with proper care, still be running far longer than 30 years.
How To Do That?
Maintenance is key. First off, be sure you are using clean diesel fuel to run your tractor. And don’t be afraid to add some diesel fuel additives from time to time to help increase injector performance and fuel economy. These products also lubricate fuel pumps and injectors, and work to manage any water that might be in the tank. A fuel pump damaged by bad diesel is not covered under warranties.
Water is the Biggest Threat
The big threat is water in your fuel pump. The fuel pump has incredibly small tolerances, and water in the pump is going to score the inside of the pump, ruining the fit. And that sort of damage can’t be repaired. Instead of risking the cost of a new fuel pump, use the best, fresh diesel fuel (not some that’s been sitting around the barn or garage for a year).
Another water risk is leaving your tractor outside overnight in rainy weather. If it turns off cold after it rains and coats the tractor in ice, the ice that formed is going to melt, and the water will look for a place to run. If water gets into the hydraulic system or the transmission, you’re going to have big repair bills.
Change the Oil on Schedule
Oil changes are also really important. If your owner’s manual doesn’t make it clear how often you should be changing the oil, call your dealer and ask. You might also check on when the filters need to be changed, too. Never overtighten filters, because taking one off at the next oil change could be a real headache. Know the suggested service schedule for your tractor model, and stick to it.
Understand Your Warranty
Before you pay for a new tractor, it’s best to understand what is covered under warranty and what’s not. If the salesperson doesn’t know for certain, don’t be afraid to check with the service department. Those fellows generally know, because they are dealing with warranty and non-warranty issues every day. Once you know what is covered and what’s going to put a hole in your pocket, you’ll have a better idea of why you need to treat your tractor right. Keep track of when the warranty will expire, and be sure everything covered is repaired and at its best before your time is up.
And don’t forget that hauling a tractor into the dealer can be an expensive venture. If you can drive your tractor to the dealer for maintenance before something goes wrong, you’re going to save quite a bit on hauling costs.
Don’t Try to Force It
It’s tempting to push a tractor to and beyond its limit, but it’s a really bad idea. It’s possible to crack the hydrostatic bellhousing, or even damage the transmission. Those elements are generally not covered by warranty. Be sure you purchase the size tractor you really need, and you can probably avoid this problem. Treat your new tractor well, and it will last for years and years.
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