Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 18 July 2018

True grit - How to help your tractor survive winter

There are steps you can take to ensure your machine is ready for a cold snap

Diesel engines are designed to run at a temperature of 80 - 85oC and need a few minutes before performing at their best.
Diesel engines are designed to run at a temperature of 80 - 85oC and need a few minutes before performing at their best.
Before temperatures truly drop replace a fading battery that you suspect is going to let you down.
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

Freezing diesel, blocked filters and flat batteries are common problems encountered each time a spell of truly cold weather arrives.

Tractor engines tend to give as good as they get, with even a little maintenance helping to keep running costs down and generally prolonging the tractor's lifespan. By the same token, those who ignore the basic cooling, lubrication electrical and fuel requirements of an engine are prone to having expensive breakdowns. As temperatures take a nose dive, the following are some easy and inexpensive cold weather tips for tractors.

1 Give your tractor time to warm up

If an athlete tries to perform to maximum ability without first warming up they will likely do damage. It's the same for your tractor engine. Give the heater plugs a chance to do their job on a cold morning rather than burning out a battery turning the engine over. Diesel engines are designed to run at a temperature of 80-85oC. Until it reaches that temperature the engine is not performing at its best. Warm your engine up for at least two or three minutes before you ask it for its best.

2 Diesel quality

When temperatures plummet diesel can thicken and gel, forming a wax-like substance. This makes the normal flow of fuel to an engine's injectors very difficult and the tractor can cut out. Poor quality diesel or poor storage technique that allows water get into the fuel leads to higher risk of freezing.

Normal winter grade diesel should be wax-resistant down to temperatures as low as -12 degrees (you might think that keeps us safe in Ireland, but during the winter freeze of 2011 certain parts of the country got as low as -17 degrees).

Even in parts of the country with less extreme temperatures, a wind chill factor can cause issues. Be sure your diesel supplier is filling your tank with winter-grade, good quality fuel. Add an anti-waxing agent to your tractor tank during really cold spells. This is cheap and it can save you a lot of time thawing frozen filters; a 235ml bottle costs €6 and treats 125 litres of diesel.

Also Read


3 Batteries

Batteries suffer hugely in the cold. Capacity drops rapidly in low temperatures, so a weak battery quickly decompensates. There are rechargeable power packs that you can buy for a tractor to avoid jumpstarting from another battery. However, these can be quite expensive (€300-€400) and there is a risk that you could overpower the tractor's electrical system. It is safer to use a spare battery of equal capacity to the one in the tractor for jumpstarting.

Keep a spare battery on the farm at all times during winter for jump starting and/or replacement. Ensure the battery terminals are clean and well connected. Before temperatures truly drop, replace a fading battery that you suspect is going to let you down. Check that the amp hours on the new battery are the same as the one being replaced.


For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App


Indo Farming

Get the latest news from the FarmIreland team 3 times a week.





More in Machinery