Winter is here for many farmers in northern climates. Your tractor engine can take a hit when temperatures plummet, so extra maintenance is necessary to ensure your tractor will start. In fact, according to the University of Tennessee, an engine is about five times harder to start at 0 degrees F than 80 degrees F. Frosty temps impact many parts of your engine—from battery efficiency to resistance in the moving parts. If you are planning on using your tractor in colder temperatures, there are several steps you can take to ensure your tractor starts easily when you need it.
- One of the most important and simple steps is properly storing your tractor when not in use. Park your tractor in a garage or shed to help keep wind and cold temperature away from the engine. Plus, if your tractor does require extra work to start, it’s more comfortable to work in a covered area.
- Make sure your tractor’s battery is fully charged during winter months. A battery’s operating ability degrades in cold weather, and if your battery is in poor condition, winter weather will only have a greater impact on a battery’s performance. Learn more about battery maintenance.
- Keep fuel at an optimal performance temperature by utilizing tank heaters. Tank heaters directly heat the fuel tank & liquids inside to prevent gelling and freezing. Keep your fuel tank full with the best diesel blend for the winter to prevent condensation from freezing in the fuel tank and clogged fuel lines.
- Avoid adding ether to the airbox. The combustion that results from adding ether can quickly cause permanent damage to the rest of your engine.
- To help warm the engine before starting your tractor, engine block heaters are very effective. Block heaters can be screwed directly into the engine block or clamped in line to a radiator hose. Keep your engine block heater plugged in for a few hours before using your tractor. Glow plugs are also helpful in warming the combustion chamber so diesel fuel will more easily ignite. Without glow plugs, unheated fuel can spray and adhere to engine parts, possibly causing damage.
- Once you start your engine in cold weather, let it idle for 10 to 15 minutes before beginning work and putting your tractor under load. Taking those few extra minutes ensures the engine parts are effectively warmed and lubricated so the engine will run at full capacity.
By following these simple tips, you’ll keep your tractor running efficiently, starting easily and prevent costly damage to your engine, so you’ll be ready for planting come spring.