Pre-Operational Checks for Tractors

New and experienced growers alike may often overlook the importance of regular equipment checks and maintenance during the heat of the season.
Pre-Operational Checks for Tractors - Articles


Whether you have been farming for 50 years or 50 days, you should start your work day with a pre-operational check of your tractors before heading out to the field. By checking your tractor before using it, you could prevent costly repairs, down time and aggravation. Before even starting the tractor, go through the following checklist items:

  • Fuel level - You always want to make sure you have sufficient fuel in the tank.
  • Check your battery - Make sure that the battery terminals are not corroded.
  • Check your tires - Not only should you check the air pressure but also make sure that the lug nuts are tight and look at the condition (e.g., tread) of the tires. If you notice that you have low tire pressure, look for air leakage from around the valve stem.
  • Loose or defective parts - Take time to really examine the tractor to look for loose or defectives parts such as a frayed or worn fan belt. Replace, tighten or make necessary repairs before heading out to the field.
  • SMV Emblem - If your SMV emblem is faded or distorted in color or shape, it is time to replace it with a new SMV emblem to increase your visibility to others.
  • Fluid leaks - Look for any fluid leaks on the ground beneath the tractor. Also check fluid levels for coolant, engine oil, and hydraulic oil levels as well. You can do some very serious damage to your tractor if you run out of these fluids.
  • Operator's platform area - You may spend much of your day on the operator platform so check the steps to make sure you can get safely on and off of the tractor. Examine the area around the seat to make sure it is clear of debris or tools that could cause you to trip. You should have a ROPS on your tractor so always make sure your seat belt is operable and that you buckle it.
  • Fire extinguisher - Check your fire extinguisher to make sure it is charged.
  • Lighting/flashers - Check headlights and warning lights/flashers to make sure all of the lights are working and replace bulbs if necessary.
  • Visibility from operator's seat - Clean any dirty cab windows to provide the best visibility for you from the operator's seat.

You may think this will take too much time, but it is better to take the time rather than have a break down in the middle of the road or to cause serious damage (e.g., engine seizes) to your equipment.