How to manage your tractor’s cooling system this winter

Maintaining your tractor’s cooling system is particularly important throughout the year, but special care must be taken during the winter months.

The cooling system is a vital part of any machine with an engine, while most tractors now a days are fluid cooled which is a system that works well when looked after properly.

In the past some tractors had air-cooled engines which didn’t have to worry about the frost of winter.

Older cooling systems usually contain a mixture of water and antifreeze, but in modern tractors a specific coolant is generally used in the cooling system.

This coolant has chemicals added to it to help keep an engine cool in the summer and offer frost protection in the winter. These coolants were created to keep older engine blocks from turning porous.

Systems using a mixture of antifreeze and water

Some systems use a mixture of antifreeze and water, which are are mixed at different ratios to offer varying rates of protection from the frost.

Without this protection in the winter the system could freeze causing damage to the engine, with there being a possibility that some of this damage could be unrepairable.

It is possible to buy a gauge in a motor factors which can test your cooling system and indicate how much protection your antifreeze or coolant will offer.

One of the best ways to service the cooling system is to drain the old fluid into suitable containers. By doing this you can judge how many litres of fluid is actually in the system.

You can then go to your local motor factors or tractor dealer which will have antifreeze suitable for your tractor.

Antifreeze is available from most motor factors and tractor dealers
Antifreeze is available from most motor factors and tractor dealers

On the back of any of the antifreeze containers there should be a ratio rating telling you how strong to mix the fluid with water to obtain a protection level suitable for your needs.

After filling the system up to the level mark, start the tractor and turn on your heating system so that any air can work its way out of the lines.

It is advisable to leave the tractor running and to keep a watchful eye on the temperature gauge.

The ratios at which to mix antifreeze and water which offers different levels of protection
The ratios at which to mix antifreeze and water which offers different levels of protection

Following this, it is recommended to top up the antifreeze when required. Meanwhile, it is important to be extremely careful when opening any radiator or header tank cap.

There can be a danger of getting scalded when removing these caps as it can get very hot due to the system working around boiling point and under pressure.

Take care opening any radiator or header tank cap due to high temperatures
Take care opening any radiator or header tank cap due to high temperatures

Cooling Systems Using Specific Coolant

Some systems use a coolant which cannot be mixed or have water added to it and can only be topped up with the same fluid.

These coolants can usually be purchased in your main tractor dealer, as different manufacturers have specific coolants to suit the particular needs of their brand of tractors.

Some systems use a coolant which cannot be mixed with any other liquid
Some systems use a coolant which cannot be mixed with any other liquid

It is important to emphasise that these coolants cannot be mixed with another type of fluid, while the colour of the coolant is generally different depending on the manufacturer.

By Stephen McEvoy, Mechanic at WR Shaw

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