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Keep your tractor running this winter

Although the weather so far has managed to cling on to warmer temperatures, farmers are being urged to prepare for the colder weather that may be on its way before the winter is over. Tractors are often relied on more during bad weather conditions so preparing them now will avoid breakdowns when you need them most.

When using your tractor in freezing conditions you’ll need to leave the engine to warm up before using it. Diesel engines are designed to run at 80-850°C and until the engine reaches the right temperature it won’t perform at its optimum output. Putting the engine under too much strain before it has warmed up could result in damage to vital components, so it is recommended to leave the engine to warm up for around 5 minutes before using your tractor.

From October through to March your fuel supplier should have switched to winter grade fuel to prevent problems with waxing. Winter grade diesel is mixed with additives that stop waxing in temperatures reaching to -12°c. Any storage tanks with fuel sitting in them should also be treated with anti wax additives to preserve the fuel.

The additive needs to be added before the fuel waxes - it won’t remove any wax crystals that have already developed. Exocet Anti Wax will prevent fuel from freezing during temperatures of less than -5°C.

Condensation in fuel tanks can cause problems for tractors during the winter. You can avoid this by keeping fuel tanks topped up so there is no room for condensation, this is also known as ‘brimming’. It is best to brim your tractor straight after use whilst the fuel is still warm, this way water vapour wont have chance to condense in a full tank.

Make sure to check the coolant levels on your tractor too, before the temperatures dip. In some cases the coolant may need topping up or replacing as it only has a shelf life of around 2 years and an inefficient amount of coolant in an engine can cause irreparable damage. Using a hydrometer you can check the freezing point of your engine’s coolant and measure the concentrations of glycol or ethylene. A minimum mix of 40% will protect your engine in temperatures down to -24°C

If you are relying on your tractor to navigate icy roads or perform heavy duties during the winter then you may also need to consider widening your tyre tracks. The best way to achieve this is by lowering your tyre pressure, which will remain safe as long as you are driving a low speeds.

Preparing early for winter will give you peace of mind that you can rely on your tractor to get you through the freezing months.