Changing farm equipment trends could have some interesting side effects, according to Andrew Hamilton, CHS technical services and quality manager.
“It’s not like it was five years ago when farmers were trading out equipment every couple of years,” he says. “Today, chances are you’ll have to hold onto equipment longer and take care of it better.”
Hamilton says lubricants can play a critical role in farm equipment lifespan. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it’s time to store equipment for the winter.
1. Understand your oil.
Not all fluids are the same. And some aren’t particularly compatible with each other. Therefore, it’s best not to make a lot of changes without knowing more about the various products, Hamilton says.
“If you’ve been using a specific oil-grade and viscosity level, you should stick with it,” he says. “Don’t make a habit of swapping out for a different type of oil with every change interval, especially if you don’t know what it’s made of. You should always adhere to your equipment manufacturer’s oil-grade recommendations.”
2. Don’t just “top it off.”
Hamilton admits it’s tempting (and much easier) for a farmer to throw in two or three fresh quarts of oil before storing equipment for the winter. That could prove to be risky behavior, however, because the machine could still have 10 or more gallons of oil in its system, Hamilton says.
“Newer oil will do a better job of protecting equipment while it’s idle,” he says. “Otherwise, water, dirt, soot and small metal particles will get re-dispersed. Topping off is like pouring a cup of clean water into a sink that’s half-full of dirty dishes.
3. Synthetic blends work better in colder weather.
Most conventional oils are made from paraffinic bases that solidify in extremely cold weather, Hamilton says.
Pistons, gears and engine components can experience significant wear during winter months when traditional engine oils begin to thicken in freezing temperatures. Full synthetic or synthetic blend oils with lower “pour points” are designed to operate more effectively in colder temperatures.
4. Know your equipment’s particular needs.
“As sophisticated as the equipment has gotten, you might need two, three or more oils to get the job done,” Hamilton says. “Each piece of equipment has its own precise needs.”
Farmers can search lubricant needs for their equipment using this online resource.
5. Consider an oil analysis at least once a year.
“It’s similar to getting a physical from your doctor,” Hamilton says. And be sure to keep the reports, he adds – it might even help you get more money when you trade in your equipment.