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
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.