Checking the Condition of Coolant

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    Depending on the part of the country in which you live, the weather should be improving if it has not already done so and soon it will be time to get to back to doing frequent work with your tractor. Most of us will have winterized our tractors for storage during the colder months and to make the transition to work again in the spring an easier one. If you have perhaps slacked off on winterizing or live in a tropical climate where winterizing needs are not as stringent, there are some things you might want to do before putting your machinery back to work for the season.

    Chances are you checked your coolant before winter set in to prevent freezing temperatures from affecting you, but coolant maintenance in hot temperatures is equally important. If you were to experience an overheating issue, this could be damaging to your tractor and expensive to repair. Because of this, coolant is something you really should keep an eye on and treat with care. If your coolant looks off in color or does not seem to be giving your tractor the range of temperature protection needed, it could be time to change the coolant. You can do this yourself per the owner's manual instructions or you can take it to a professional to have the work done. If you do opt to do it on your own, be sure to collect all of the used coolant and dispose of it safely in accordance with your local laws. The chemicals in coolant can be toxic to animals of all kinds and they should be kept at bay while you work to prevent accidental consumption.

    To address the state and health of your coolant, it is important to know what type is in your tractor and what color it should be. If you are expecting to see green coolant and instead see red, you might panic, but having red coolant is perfectly normal when it comes to some types of coolant. For example, the most conventionally used coolant, ethylene glycol, is usually bright green in color. The extended life versions of ethylene glycol are typically yellow in color. Propylene glycol is red or orange in color. If your tractor is low on coolant and you must add some, be sure to use the appropriate type; do not mix two different types of coolant together. When adding coolant, be sure to follow the instructions in your owner's manual as to the proper dilution as pure coolant is often too thick for tractor engines to be able to pump effectively. Also be sure not to use tap water due to the minerals it contains having the potential to damage your engine. Only distilled water is safe.

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    To drain coolant, you must first ensure the engine is completely cool to prevent injury to yourself. You will then need to locate the drain points. There will be one on the radiator itself and, depending on your tractor, possibly on the block as well. Drain the old coolant into a safe container and rinse the system with water. Then replace the drain plugs and add new coolant/water dilute via the radiator neck. Turn the engine on and let it run for a few minutes so any trapped air is able to escape. At this time, check your coolant level again and add more coolant/water dilute to bring it up to the appropriate level if needed, then replace the radiator cap securely.

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    Even if the coolant in your tractor looks good, that does not mean there is not still some level of maintenance necessary. Cooling systems operate at high pressure and the radiator cap is responsible for maintaining that pressure. Because of this, the radiator cap is considered a wear part and usually needs to be replaced approximately every two years (consult your owner's manual should your tractor differ), which is about the same time that coolant should be replaced. With this in mind, it is convenient to keep everything on the same schedule and replace both coolant and your radiator cap at the same time. If you are not quite ready to replace your radiator cap, it is a good idea to at least have it tested bi-annually at a radiator shop to ensure effective function. You may also want to tackle thermostat issues at this time.

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    With your coolant and radiator cap needs attended to, you will be ready to get back to work in the warm weather that is approaching. Having a system filed with appropriately diluted coolant will keep your engine parts not only from overheating but will also keep them lubricated. Your cylinder bore liners and coolant pump will thank you for your efforts, as will the rest of your tractor, but continuing to work faithfully for you as long as you provide faithful care in exchange.

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