Farm equipment inspection and maintenance for harvest

It's getting into one of the busy seasons for farmers, which means it’s time for a health checkup on your equipment.

Inspecting your tractors, trailers, augers, and other machinery and making any repairs or adjustments will save you time in the long run. And once you get into the fields, you'll be able to stay there.

Before you head to the shed

Have your tools ready and service manuals in hand. If you have misplaced a manual, look for one on the internet. You can usually find a PDF to download or purchase a print copy.

1. Clean farm equipment

Cleaning not only makes inspection easier, it also serves as a safety precaution because chaff and other debris can ignite from the heat of farm machinery.

  • Be wary of rodent nests that may have accumulated on the combine during storage.
  • Clean up any grease or oil buildup.
  • Clean decks, housings, and rakes of any debris.
  • While cleaning, take note of anything that may need repairs.

2. Use a farm equipment inspection checklist

Ensure that your equipment is in top working condition before you hit the fields. Always make sure machinery is turned off and in park or neutral with the parking brake engaged before working on equipment.

  • Nuts and bolts: Make sure all nuts and bolts are secure.
  • Tires: Check pressure and tread wear for each tire. Tighten lug nuts.
  • Blades: Sharpen and replace as needed.
  • Cutter bars, grain platform, and skid plates: Always check cutter bars for flexibility and movement. Check the grain platform for knife sharpness. For skid plates under the grain platform, identify any wear and tear and replace appropriately.
  • Mirrors: Climb in the seat and identify any driver blind spots. Will you be able to see people, fences, buildings, or other equipment in your path? Adjust the mirrors for visibility.
  • Fluids: Check and/or change the gas, transmission oil, hydraulic fluid oil, coolant level, and any other fluids. Stock up on fluids during this time for future maintenance.
  • Hitches: Make sure you have the proper hitch pins and safety clips for what you plan to pull.
  • Brakes: Adjust brakes, drives, and clutches according to the manual.
  • Cooling system: Look for cracks and leaks, and check coolant level.
  • Hoses, belts, chains, and plastic parts: Check all belts, rubber hoses, and plastic parts like fans for cracks. Make sure that belts are properly tightened and that chains are properly adjusted. Replace any items that look worn.
  • Hydraulic lines: The best way to test hydraulic systems is to pressurize them and look for leaks. However, be aware that not every leak will create a telltale puddle.
  • Batteries: Does the battery hold a charge?
  • Engine and steering: Making sure the area is clear, start the engine and run at a fast idle for at least 3 minutes. Check to make sure if any fuel, air, or oil filters need to be replaced. Also, ensure steering and exhaust systems are in working order.
  • Safety equipment: Make sure all shields and guards are in place and in good working order.
  • Yield monitors, GPS, and gauges: Adjust and calibrate these tools to ensure they are providing accurate information.

3. Do a final walk around

Are your headlights, taillights, and turn signals working? Testing your lights now gives you the opportunity to make a repair. While it could be a faulty wire on a trailer, it may be as simple as replacing a bad bulb.

Also, are your slow-moving-vehicle signs still reflective and visible from the rear of the equipment? The last thing you need as you start field work is to get pulled over for a broken taillight or missing sign before you even reach your field. (Read more about farmers and rural roads.)

For more information

For more farm safety tips, read our farm safety, tips, and resources on grinnellmutual.com. Want to know more about how we help farmers trust in tomorrow? Read about our farm insurance products and services or find an agent near you.

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