Preventing expensive tractor mower repairs

Following the maintenance advice in your tractor's manual is the best way to keep it humming along smoothly. Here are some tips that explain which steps are the most important and how to make maintenance faster and easier.

Preventing expensive tractor mower repairs

Blow the mower deck clean

You might think that the belt guards on top of a mower deck protect the belts and pulleys from grass clippings, dirt and other debris. But just the opposite is true.

  • The spinning belts and pulleys suck in debris and the guards trap it inside.
  • Then it swirls around, grinding away at the pulley surfaces and tearing up your belts.
  • Once a pulley wears, it will quickly chew up every new belt you put on.
  • Avoiding expensive belt and pulley replacements is easy; just blow the deck off with an air compressor or leaf blower after every third or fourth mowing.

Keep your engine clean and cool

A buildup of grass clippings and dirt restricts airflow and prevents the engine from cooling properly. And an engine that runs too hot is headed for major repairs. Even worse, that debris can catch fire.

  • To clean the engine, vacuum out the engine compartment and the engine itself, including the air cleaner assembly.
  • If you can't get all the debris with the vacuum, you may have to remove the engine covers and pull it out by hand.
  • Next, spray the engine with an environmentally-friendly household cleaner.
  • Apply the spray cleaner when the engine is cool and let it soak for a few minutes. Then gently hose it off.
  • Don't use a pressure washer — high pressure may damage plastic components.
  • If your engine is coated with oil, don't even think about cleaning it in your driveway or garage.
  • The oil can stain concrete and kill plants. Instead, take the tractor to a shop to have the oil leak repaired and the engine professionally cleaned.

Clean the air filter between changes

You already know that it's important to change the air filter as often as the owner's manual recommends. But it's also a good idea to clean the filter between changes. If your tractor has a foam prefilter, wash it with soap and water; never use a solvent or other cleaner. Blow out the pleated paper filter with a light blast from an air compressor. Keep in mind that this is not a substitute for regular filter changes. Even if the filter looks clean, replace it with a new one at recommended intervals.

Grease guidance

It isn't exactly rocket science, but many tractor owners goof up greasing. The biggest mistake is using the wrong grease. The brand doesn't matter, but use the type recommended by the manufacturer, whether it's plain lithium, lithium with molybdenum disulfide, or polyurea.

  • Grease every fitting every time you change the oil.
  • Check your owner's manual to locate them all. There may be grease fittings on your mower deck and other attachments too.
  • A flexible hose makes reaching the fittings a lot easier.
  • Pick up a grease gun and hose at any home centre or auto parts store.
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