Five Ways to Get More Hours From Your Equipment

Delaying equipment trade-in makes maintenance even more critical.

Farm incomes took a hit in 2015, falling 38 percent from the previous year to reach a 13-year low. Predictions for 2016 don’t look much better. To minimize expenses, many farmers will be holding on to equipment, which means regular maintenance will be essential to avoid downtime and costly repairs.

The equipment manufacturer’s maintenance list is a good place to start when deciding where to spend time and dollars on upkeep, but fuel-related areas are often overlooked, notes Ron Jessen, CHS director of product management for Cenex brand fuels. “Taking a few minutes to check and replace components will be time well spent. Using premium fuels and lubricants also can make a big different in efficiency and performance.”

1. Change air and fuel filters. Internal combustion engines require the proper mix of fuel and air. Clogged primary and secondary air and fuel filters interfere with combustion efficiency. A University of Missouri study shows that replacing dirty air and fuel filters can increase power output by up to 4 percent.

2. Service fuel injectors. Dirty fuel injectors can cause inefficient combustion and power loss. Black smoke is a sign of overfueling and may mean you need to clean injectors.

Typical #2 diesel fuel leaves deposits in injector nozzle tips and deep inside injector components, explains Jessen. “Internal diesel injector deposits, or IDIDs, can form suddenly, resulting in significant drops in power and fuel economy, and, in some cases, injector failure.”

3. Invest in premium diesel fuel. Newer diesel engines use high-pressure, common-rail, direct-injection technology for better efficiency. But the high temperatures and pressures they produce can literally cook conventional diesel fuel, creating engine deposits that can impact equipment performance and potentially damage engine parts.

“It pays to use a premium diesel fuel, such as Cenex® Ruby Fieldmaster®,” says Jessen. “Its additive package improves lubricity by 10 to 15 percent, and cleans and prevents injector fouling to extend injector and pump life. Field tests also demonstrate improved horse power and increased fuel efficiency by up to five percent.”

4. Clean and maintain bulk fuel tanks. Water is the enemy of stored fuel and the common culprit behind rust, bacteria and algae formation. If those contaminants make it through the filter and into engines, injectors can plug and pumps can fail.

Check for water in tanks after each fuel delivery, recommends Jessen. “An automatic tank gauging system makes that easy, but you can check manually with alcohol-compatible water paste on a gauge stick. If you find water at the bottom, drain and clean the tank. If sludge or contaminants are found, have the tank professionally cleaned.”

5. Enroll in a warranty plan. Equipment failure cripples productivity, so look for a warranty plan for new and used equipment. According to Jessen, “relying on Cenex lubricants and diesel fuels qualifies equipment for coverage with the Cenex Total Protection Plan.”

Steve Laleman, who farms near Minneota, Minn., received a check for $23,306 to cover repairs for his tractor covered under the Cenex warranty program. “When you’re looking at a $23,000 tractor repair bill, you think about trading it in rather than repairing it,” says Laleman. “I’m really glad I had the Cenex warranty – it’s a lot better than any manufacturer’s warranty.”

With the Total Protection Plan, CHS covers parts and labor costs to repair or replace parts that fail during normal use and will not void existing OEM warranty programs. The plan provides coverage for up to 10 years or 10,000 hours for new equipment and up to eight years or 8,000 hours for used equipment. There’s no deductible and the plan can be transferred if you sell the equipment. To learn more, visit www.cenex.com/tpp.