Is your tractor prepared to survive the winter and start in the cold weather?
The fields have been cleared. The harvest has been moved into storage. Your tractor is pulling less weight. But before you hang up your coat and tools for some much-needed rest, make sure your tractor is ready for the cooler months ahead. Even if your tractor gets less mileage in the winter, you will want to take some extra care if you plan to clear snow or operate it in snowy and sub-zero conditions. Maintaining your tractor to start and run smoother in the cold doesn’t have to be more labor-intensive or costly. In fact, some of the simplest things you can do for your tractor in cold weather can make the most impact. From parking in the right place to using the right kind of fuel, here are six simple tips for storing and starting your tractor this winter.
Park in the warmest or sunniest place possible
Perhaps the easiest way to protect your tractor in the winter is to simply park it in a heated garage when temperatures dip. Even if the garage itself is not heated, the layer of protection from the wind chill can help your tractor start and warm up faster when you need it. No space in the shed? There’s a natural solution that might help. If you need to park outside overnight, choose an open, sunny area, preferably facing east. It's a simple, but effective way of letting the rising sun fall on the hood of your tractor at dawn to give the engine a head start in warming up.
Establish a routine that includes time, patience, and maintenance
Can you idle for a few minutes without getting antsy? Those who can spare some time and patience are already on track for a fuss-free winter tractor experience. Operating with cold fluids puts more wear and tear on your tractor. To avoid irreversible damage, allow the engine to warm up for about 5 to 10 minutes prior to use when you start your tractor in the colder months. Tractor parts also benefit from regular checks and extra attention in the winter. Rubber parts, like hoses and belts, are especially susceptible to the cold and require regular inspection. Lastly, check your tires for fine cracks, a telling indicator of dry rot, and fill them to the proper pressure recommended on the sidewall.
Use winter-appropriate fuel and engine oil
One of the best things you can do for your tractor engine and performance is to use the right fuel. At low temperatures, diesel fuel starts “gelling,” causing fuel filters to plug. To avoid this, use winter-grade fuel when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Also, if your tractor continues to get regular use in cold weather, remember to top off its fuel tank regularly. Condensation in the fuel tank causes gelled fuel and reduces performance, so top off the tank after each use. Lastly, as you get ready for the winter, don’t forget to change the tractor oil. Using winter-grade oil during the colder months ensures that the critical parts of your engine continue to get the lubrication they need to operate. A range of oil specifically labeled for use in freezing weather is available on the market, but be sure to refer to your tractor’s operator manual before selecting one, as oils vary by engine type and region. By performing cold weather tractor care, you will extend the life of your tractor and preempt any troubles you may have when your tractor returns to full-time work mode.
Protect your engine with engine coolant and a block heater
Engine coolant keeps your tractor from overheating in summer, but it also protects against freezing in the winter, hence its alternate name, antifreeze. In the winter, specifically, engine coolant helps your engine and tractor start by protecting it against freezing and corrosion while extending water pump life and minimizing liner cavitation. Ready to take engine protection one step further? Add an engine block heater to the mix. An engine block heater is essentially a small heater, powered by an independent energy source, that will warm up the engine block and make the tractor easier to start. By also warming the engine coolant, block heaters play an important supportive role in cold-weather vehicle starts.
Remove the battery if your tractor goes into storage
Maintaining and starting your tractor in the winter doesn’t always include adding something new. Sometimes, the best way to maintain your tractor might involve removing an essential part of it when it’s not in use. Cold weather makes it harder for the battery to start your tractor’s engine. If you anticipate long stretches of time when you won’t be using the tractor, remove the battery and keep it someplace warm. Need help with battery life management? Remember that a battery that isn’t being recharged regularly will have a shorter lifespan, but so does a battery that is always overcharged. Thankfully, there are smart chargers on the market that switch to float mode to prevent overcharging once the battery has reached peak charge. If you decide to remove the battery and send your tractor into hibernation mode, check our guide detailing how to properly store your tractor post-season.
A little winter TLC goes a long way
As seasons change, routine checks and regular maintenance are some of the most important preventive measures you can take for your tractor’s longevity and productivity. TYM tractors are designed to last a lifetime and beyond, and our website offers detailed instructions and helpful tips on how to get the most out of your tractor throughout all seasons and weather. For more support from TYM, check our website for maintenance options and useful resources like articles covering milestone service checklists and guides for preparing your tractor for rainy season. For maintenance tips and product availability specific to your model and region, get in touch with your local TYM dealer.