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    Winter Tractor Care | Winter 2011 Out Here Magazine

    Cold-weather operation calls for tailored upkeep

    Out Here

    By Carol Davis


    Maintenance doesn't stop around your property, just because it's cold outside. So while you're hauling materials or moving earth, take steps to properly service your tractor.

    High-quality fluids are particularly important to protect the engine, transmission, axles, and hydraulic systems in below-freezing temperatures, says Bill Dominick, products manager for The Lubrizol Corp., and contributing editor for "Equipment, especially tractors and combines, are very vulnerable to extreme conditions especially in the Midwest where temperatures can get below zero for extended periods of time," he says.

    Dominick advises tractor owners to use high quality engine and tractor hydraulic fluids that have been designed with chemistry that provides protection against:

    • Oxidation — Inadequate tractor fluids can cause the formation of deposits, sludging, and thickening of fluid. Oxidation shortens the useful life of any tractor.
    • Wear — Damage can be done to pinion and ring surfaces by fluids lacking anti-wear technology.
    • Water — Moisture is not a friend of a tractor's seals, valves, and yellow metal components. A high-quality fluid prevents water contamination, reducing erosion and corrosion.
    • Temperature — Fluids working in cold weather need to provide a lubricant film to help tractor starts and protecting the metal parts in the hydraulic system from grinding against each other.

    If you plan to store your tractor for part, or all, of winter, you need to properly prepare for that, as well, Dominick advises. "The best time to prepare your equipment for the spring planting is actually immediately after your winter season," he says.

    He offers five tips for successfully storing your farm tractor for the winter:

    1. Changes all oils (engine & tractor hydraulic fluids) and filters.
    2. Clean all parts of your tractor with a pressure washer; remove any dirt, crop, or other debris.
    3. Grease wheels, bearings, and clutch parts for tractors and combines.
    4. Clean and make sure batteries are fully charged.
    5. Lastly, start up your tractor and let run for 15-30 minutes periodically throughout the winter.

    Carol Davis is editor of Out Here.


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