Many farmers are holding onto equipment longer than in previous years to help minimize expenses. While maintaining equipment can help reduce expenditures during lean years, the cost savings can be lost if mechanical issues trigger repair bills and unwanted downtime.
“As farmers begin using their equipment more regularly, they should watch for telltale signs of mechanical problems,” says Ron Jessen, director of product management, Cenex® brand fuels. He points out three danger signs farmers should heed during the fast-paced planting season.
1: Slow startup after sitting idle.
Recommended action: Replace fuel filters.
Internal combustion engines need the right mix of fuel and air. When filters are clogged, the blockage interferes with combustion efficiency. Be sure to change filters at the equipment manufacturer’s recommended interval.
Slow startup can also be a sign of using a low-grade #2 diesel, which has lower cetane levels than premium diesel fuel. Using a diesel fuel with higher cetane levels can reduce strain on engines and electrical systems for faster, more efficient starts.
2: Black smoke emissions.
Recommended action: Service fuel injectors.
Black smoke is a sign of overfueling, usually caused by dirty or clogged fuel injectors. Typical #2 diesel fuel creates deposits on fuel injector nozzle tips, which can lead to inefficient combustion, power loss and even stalling.
“The right fuel additive package is critical for keeping fuel injectors clean and operating efficiently,” says Jessen. But simply adding an additive to the tank creates inaccurate and incomplete blending and may not be enough to make a difference. “Selecting the right additives and blending them with the correct fuel rates can be complicated. Invest in a premium diesel fuel that is properly formulated and is terminally injected; these fuels contain the right ratios of detergent and anti-foulants to help maintain optimal engine performance.”
3: Slow or delayed acceleration.
Recommended action: Maintain bulk fuel tanks and choose premium diesel fuel.
Fuel storage can be overlooked in equipment performance. A faulty or neglected bulk tank allows fuel to become polluted with dirt, water and other contaminants. Fuel contaminants can plug fuel lines and filters, hurting equipment performance and causing costly repairs.
Many factors can lead to decreased power, but the simple truth is that today’s modern equipment is hard on diesel fuel. According to Jessen, Cenex premium diesel fuels such as Cenex Ruby Fieldmaster® are specifically formulated for Tier 3 and Tier 4 engine technology and have been proven to increase power by 4.5 percent and improve fuel economy by as much as 5 percent, compared to a typical #2 diesel.
"It may cost a few cents extra per gallon to switch to a premium diesel fuel, but that investment will result in long-term operational savings by increasing fuel economy and reducing repair costs,” says Jessen. “It’s an investment that goes far beyond the pump.”
An even easier decision is enrolling equipment in a warranty program. CHS offers the Cenex Total Protection Plan®, which protects new equipment for 10 years or 10,000 hours and used equipment for up to 8 years or 8,000 hours.
For help with equipment performance questions and for customized fuel and lubricant recommendations, contact local Cenex dealers and CHS cooperatives. To apply for the Total Protection Plan or to locate a Cenex refined fuels dealer, visit cenex.com.