You did it!

You made a major investment in the future of your property, and your brand-spanking new tractor has just arrived. While you’re admiring the shiny new orange or green paint job and checking out all the bells and whistles on the dash, you’re thinking to yourself, “How can I make the most of my investment?”

The answer is simpler than you might expect. Tractors have always been engineered to run forever. That’s why you still see the occasional antique out in the field, chugging away with some poor farmer sitting on a metal seat without so much as a ROPS over his head. Like every engine, you have to tease out the best possible performance by staying on top of basic maintenance.

Consulting your tractor manual

Your manual is a wealth of information about what your specific tractor needs and when, so keep that handy, and be sure to keep track of when you take your tractor in for service and what is done each time.

You can downloadKubota tractor manuals, John Deere tractor manuals, and New Holland tractor manuals online for free. Look for a page that offers a maintenance schedule, like this one from Kubota:

Kubota manual excerpt

Kubota manual excerpt 2

As you can see in this chart, Kubota recommends that all fluid be changed at 50 hours. That’s the benchmark for all brands I checked.

You may want to tackle changing your tractor fluids on your own. If you know your way around an engine, it’s not a difficult job. Rather not DIY? Any reputable dealer will have a service department that will perform maintenance on your equipment. That’s why it’s always best to buy from a local dealer with a full service shop. Our customers know they can rely on us for advice, service, parts, and just about anything else they need.

Tracking your tractor time

Since tractors aren’t used like vehicles, engine wear is not measured in miles, but in hours used. Some tractors have a built-in hour meter, but with older or less sophisticated tractors, you may have to keep track yourself. It’s ok to estimate, but you might want to keep track at first until you get a feel for your schedule. You may only use your tractor a few hours a week, or you may use it sunup to sundown for a month or two to complete a job, and then less often after the bulk of the work is done. If your schedule is wildly different from week to week, it will be harder to estimate time spent.

One idea for keeping track is to log in and out with a timekeeper app usually used to keep track of employee hours. Try Toggl or Work Log – or just search the iTunes Store or Google Play for a time tracker app that appeals to you. There are tons of free or low-cost options.

Why tractor maintenance matters

In addition to the obvious perks of not blowing up an expensive engine or ruining your hydraulics system and turning your beautiful machine into a useless lawn decoration your mom can share on Pinterest, following a regular maintenance schedule protects your investment andimproves your tractor performance.

There’s also your warranty to consider. New tractors come with a limited warranty, which you can void by not performing recommended maintenance. Here’s a John Deere Warranty FAQ.

  1. What is not covered under warranty?
  2. Items not warranted include:

Improper maintenance

If you screw up, it is not their problem.

Tractor maintenance is not complicated. Keep your tractor clean so you can spot problems like leaking fluids, do a visual inspection before you go out, stay on top of your maintenance schedule, and your tractor will serve you for a long, long time. Even though they have a lot more fancy technology than they used to, they are still built to last.