The modern-day tractor is the workhorse of the agriculture and construction industry. Tractors function to haul trailers and heavy machinery. Their engines endure great wear and tear. Without the proper lubricants, the entire apparatus could seize up or erode. Thus, taking years off of the design life of your machine.
Every tractor owner should invest the time to become familiar with their owner’s manual. Typically, the manufacturer provides specifications on the best engine oil and other lubricants. Also, there you should find the lubrication schedule which you will need to follow to maintain a well-running machine.
The first thought you may have when considering tractor oil lubricants is engine oil. It is undoubtedly the most critical. Without proper oil maintenance, you could be in for a massive repair bill. Consider that a brand-new John Deer engine can cost anywhere from $27,000 to $40,000. Even a reconditioned engine is not cheap, costing between $13,000 and $19,000. Thank goodness for the overhaul kit, which is only $2,500 – not including labor. Contrast that expense with the cost of a gallon of 15W-40 engine oil, which is below $30. It’s a no-brainer. You always want to keep your engine oil fresh and up to level.
Tractor oil lubricants are the first line of defense in protecting your engine. With more than 1.25 million tractors in use today, proper engine oil selection has become a science. Not all engine oils are the same. Some are better in certain conditions of heat, rain, or dust than others.
It is the role of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to grade tractor oil lubricants. SAE grades engine oils based on their thickness at startup (cold start) and when the oil reaches 100 degrees centigrade. SAE rates engine oil from 0 to 60. Zero represents the lowest possible thickness, while 60 is the highest. The first number is the cold viscosity ranking. It is always followed by “W.” The second number is the viscosity rating for the engine oil when it becomes heated. Therefore, when you see an oil carrying a 10W-40 designation, it merely means that its viscosity is 10 when cold and 40 once the engine is running.
Transmission and Hydraulic Oil
In the past tractors used a single reservoir to lubricate their transmissions and engines. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, the transmission fluid used in tractors is specialized. Similar to engine oils, the SAE viscosity rating system also applies to transmission lubricants. The most common hydraulic grade lubricants used in today’s’ tractors is 5W-30. Synthetic hydraulic lubricating products have now started to become favored somewhat.
Tractors, like most heavy trucks and machinery, require axel oil. These products have a much higher viscosity than other tractor oil lubricants. An SAE rating of 75W-90 is standard for them. Manufacturers formulate gear oil with extreme pressure additives, and anti-wear ingredients such as sulfur treated organic compounds. They are necessary to deal with the spiral bevel gears found in most tractors.
Chain Oil Lubricants
The tightly joined chain linked fasteners found in modern tractors require a lubricant with high viscosity and the ability to penetrate between the pins. Most of these are spray-on products which contain Moly. However, some chain lubes are available in cans or jars.
General Greases and Penetrating Lubricants
You should always keep handy a silicone and lanolin-based lubricant which you can apply to hinges, battery terminals or pedals on your tractor.
According to your manufactures manual, certain parts of your tractor may require regular greasing on a fixed schedule. Most of the general grease products contain lithium or Moly. NLGI #2 is the specification most commonly recommended by the National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI). The NLGI number is a designation of grease penetration at 25 degrees centigrade.
When doing routine maintenance on your tractor, it is always a good idea to re-grease any nuts and bolts before refastening them. That will facilitate easier removal the next time without much hassle.