Coolant System Maintenance on Your Tractor

Web Exclusive: A complete look at cooling system maintenance.

By Tharran E. Gaines

One of the most obvious steps in cooling system maintenance is to keep the radiator and any cooling units that are positioned in front of it clear of dirt and debris. This includes the air-conditioner evaporator, hydraulic fluid cooling units, etc.

However, don’t clean with water, unless you’ll have enough time to allow everything to dry before you head to the field. Otherwise, the cooling fins will cake up with mud, chaff, etc. faster than before. Instead, use an air hose to blow out the debris from the backside of the unit. The good news is that slide-out or swing-out cooling units have made it easier to clean the radiator and adjacent components.

It’s equally important to make sure the coolant is at the correct level, is the right color and clear of rust. It should go without saying to never remove the radiator cap until the radiator has cooled.

Keep the radiator and any cooling units that are positioned in front of it clear of dirt and debris.

Keep the radiator and any cooling units that are positioned in front of it clear of dirt and debris.

Next, you’ll need to check the condition of the antifreeze. While most antifreeze formulations contain approximately 95% ethylene glycol, they also contain a certain amount of water and an additive package designed to prevent rust, scale and corrosion.

Products formulated for diesel engines also contain nitrate or other additives to coat wet engine sleeves and protect against cavitation, and the resultant erosion. Other additives serve to protect copper, brass, and aluminum components and to buffer acids formed by the breakdown of glycol. However, the additives wear out or are depleted as the coolant ages.

Some formulations also have fundamentally different chemical compositions, particularly when you compare extended life organic-acid coolants with “fully formulated” coolants that were predominant 15 to 20 years ago. Hence, it’s best to match what is already in the system or pick an antifreeze type for complete replacement and stick with it.

If extra fluid is required or if you’re adding new antifreeze, don’t add ordinary tap water. That can lead to rust, scale and corrosion. That’s why most service technicians generally use a 50/50 extended life premix. It may seem like you’re paying an unnecessary price for water, but since the premix uses demineralized water, you don’t have to worry about the concentration or the content.

Fortunately, your AGCO dealer can run a coolant analysis, which not only determines coolant condition, but identifies any other problems that can show up in the cooling system.

<< See the full story on tractor maintenance, “TLC for Your Tractor”