Use Your Owner’s Manual for Tractor Maintenance

Treat your small farm tractor right with a comprehensive daily, seasonal and annual maintenance program.

by Jim Ruen
PHOTO: Photo: Lesley Ward

Small farm tractor maintenance should be a no-brainer. Investing a few minutes before you start your tractor and a few hours throughout the year can keep it running smoothly for the long haul. With a little forethought, you’ll avoid expensive rebuilds and the inconvenience of a tractor in the shop.

Living in the country, you might have a neighbor can turn to for tractor-maintenance advice and counsel, but your tractor owner’s manual can give you most of the answers you’re looking for. In addition to discussing features, operation and capability of your tractor, the tractor owner’s manual also offers primary maintenance guidelines.

If you don’t have your owner’s manual, visit a dealer that sells your tractor’s brand. Depending on the age and popularity of the model, they might have a manual on hand or be able to order one for you. Increasingly, manuals are available both digitally and in print.

Manuals for older tractors can be more difficult to find. An Internet search can turn up original manuals for sale by collectors, as well as reproductions from companies like Jensales Tractor & Equipment Repair Manuals, which carries owner’s manuals for nearly every tractor made from 1900 to present.

Jensales Tractor & Equipment Repair Manuals owner Paul Jensen warns that while an original manual is great for collectors, it might not be the best for service purposes. Not only are most difficult to hold open without breaking the binding, they could be incomplete, as information was often added to later revised versions. Getting the most recent version can be a challenge.

“We try to make as complete a manual as possible, with all versions together to cover the model completely,” Jensen says. “We also bind everything so the manual will lay out flat.”

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A quick review of your tractor owner’s manual will identify key service points on your tractor, including lubrication, cooling, air, fuel and tires. It will also identify daily service duties, as well as periodic system servicing where fluids and filters are exchanged. If you’re new to tractor ownership or if you’re determined to do a better job maintaining your tractor than you have in the past, a couple of aids can help: The first is a checklist of daily tractor-maintenance duties, and the second is a maintenance planner for longer-term, periodic servicing.

Properly carried out, regular maintenance, both daily and longer term, is multipurpose: Engine components are protected, and operating efficiency is maintained. Maintenance checks also serve as an early warning system to catch small problems before they become big problems. It just takes a little time, a little organization and a little determination.

Use the two checklists below to divide your duties and maintain your tractor with efficiency.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Hobby Farms.

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