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Top 10 Reasons Tractors Break Down – Your Prevention Guide

We want to share important information that will help you prevent and avoid costly tractor breakdowns. They are all easy to avoid once you know what they are.

And as a quick aside --- we are here to help you purchase a new tractor, parts and implements when the time is right.

Let’s dive into the details.


Tractor and other equipment breakdowns are always costly --- especially during planting and harvest --- when getting the seed in the ground and the grain out of the field in a timely fashion are both critical to maximizing yield.

A day of downtime can cost growers and farmers thousands of dollars. The actual cost depends on how much yield is affected by doing the operation later in the season versus the day that the equipment was down.

So what are the most common tractor breakdown problems?

Here is the top 10 breakdown list (in no particular order) and how you can prevent and avoid these problems.

Poor Electrical Connections

This problem is hard to prevent.

It is becoming more commonplace as more machinery is controlled electronically.

Cleaning dust and dirt from the connectors can help. When cleaning --- use compressed air instead of water to keep moisture away from the wires.

Untrained Operators

As farms get larger --- many farm owners are hiring outside help that may have not been trained to operate machinery.

This results in abused machinery, awful maintenance, and costly breakdowns. Time invested in training can make your machinery last longer.

Overrunning Machines

Pushing machines to run at maximum performance or at the top of the engineering curve can strain joints and cause equipment to die prematurely.

Some operators push their machines too hard for too long --- and force them to do things they weren’t designed for.

Operators should run machines just under their intended maximum performance level at most times. This helps avoid undue stress and prevents premature wear.

Not Replacing Worn Parts

When a part on a machine breaks --- some operators will only replace that part.

They will not check or replace other parts that may have caused the initial failure.

Only replacing the parts that are broken is a temporary fix. It can cost you more money in downtime.

It is well-known by tractor mechanics that when operators don’t replace all the things that they recommend --- 9 out of 10 times they will come back with bigger and more costly problems.

Not Reading the Operator's Manual

Many operators have never even opened (much less) read their tractor owner’s manual.

The sad part is that most of what they need to learn and know is in there.

Owner’s manuals cover everything from maintenance checklists to calibration instructions.

Most issues are addressed in the troubleshooting section --- so operators can fix the problems themselves without having to wait for a potentially costly technician.

Improper Maintenance

Skipping daily maintenance will eventually cause costly downtime plus huge repair bills.

You must grease all the lube points daily and check the engine oil and fluids such as transmission fluid, urea, or diesel exhaust fluid.

With the new Tier 4 engines, operators who use a cheaper urea or diesel exhaust fluid, run into many issues. Many issues revolve around the exhaust and aftertreatment systems.

Operators should also regularly replace fuel filters --- and check chains, gearboxes, and belts for wear. Then they must replace worn parts.

On gravity wagons, wheels should be checked for tightness and alignment before going to the field.

Misaligned Tighteners

Tighteners that are not tracking straight with the belt or chain in relation to the main drives can put tension on the belt or chain --- causing it to break or wear excessively.

You must replace worn bushings in the tightener pivot that may be pushing the belt or chain sideways.

On combines, operators need to make sure that the belts are running straight and that the chains and belts are at the proper tension --- so they don’t slip or break.

Also make sure that the shafts are running at the right speed.

Improper Storage

Combines and planters can build up dust and debris.

This attracts rodents. Rodents gnaw on the wires.

The dust itself can interfere with the electrical connections.

You’ll see times where mice and rats get into your machinery. Equipment is not rodent-proof. Once rodents eat up the debris --- they will chew on the wires and seals. You will end up spending money on electrical harnesses.

Store your machinery inside and clean around all the electrical connections and other areas of buildup before parking it inside.

Compressed air is better and safer than water for cleanup.

Weather-related Issues

Operating in damp, muddy, and wet conditions can put a strain on equipment.

Running tough, wet, material through a combine can break shafts or plug up the machine --- which then puts strain on everything from the feeder house chains to shafts to bearings and pulleys.

In tractors --- mud packed in between dual wheels can result in premature wear on the tire sidewalls once the mud hardens.

While it is difficult to avoid these conditions, understanding the weather-related issues can alert you to problems to look for.

Ignoring Warning Signals

Warning lights are there for a reason.

They signal issues that need to be addressed. This includes things like low hydraulic pressure, high engine temperature, or a shaft that isn’t turning.

Too often these signals are ignored --- resulting in a costly machinery failure.

Times are tougher for many operators and farmers, so they are not as quick to update their equipment. So it is extremely important to pay special attention to daily inspections, regular maintenance, and preseason checks to make sure that the equipment makes it through the season.

Hopefully, this brief article has helped you understand the top 10 reasons for tractor breakdowns and how you can avoid and prevent them.

If you need any further help or have any questions about maintenance, tractors, implements, or anything else equipment-related, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.

If you are looking for old, vintage, classic, or new tractor parts, send us a part request.

Team Tractor Ranch - #1 Tractor Dealer in Arizona. We sell and service most major brands of tractors including Yanmar, Kubota, John Deere, TYM, Mahindra, Kioti, Case, New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Ford, Deutz, Case IH, Farmall, International Harvester, Branson Tractors, LS, Shibura, Claas Tractor, McCormick Tractors, Valtra, Solis, YTO, Montana, and Nortrac.

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