How to Prepare Your Tractor for Winter Storage

If you have a small lawn or yard tractor, part of maintenance is making sure that it is properly prepared and stored for the winter months when it won't see any use. It's important to take the steps for correct winterization and storage in order to make sure it runs properly for several years, as improper storage can drastically shorten the life of your tractor. Here are the things you need to do to get your tractor ready for the cold season.

1. Get it serviced.

It may seem counterintuitive to get your tractor tuned up before you're going to be parking it for good, but the fall is a great time to make minor repairs or replace parts that were worn out over a season of heavy use. This way, when spring comes, you'll know that everything in your tractor is already prepared for work, and you'll be able to skip the rush, time and expense to get your tractor ready when you need it. 

2. Clean everything.

After heavy use, your tractor's parts and exterior attachments can accumulate some grime. If it sits over the winter, it can eat away at the finish and fatigue the metals. Use a pressure washer to clean off stuck-on dirt, grass clippings, or manure. If your lawn tractor has metal housing for the blades, you may need to hoist the tractor up on a jack and gently scrape away layers of cut-grass residue. This will be much harder to remove if it dries and freezes over winter. 

3. Stabilize and change fluids.

Because water can begin to accumulate in the tank if it is empty or partially empty, it's advised to store your tractor on a full tank of gas, but to make sure the fuel is stabilized. Gasoline can go stale as it sits unused, so the stabilizer helps to make sure that the gas left sitting in the lines won't harm your engine. This is especially especially important with fuels that have an ethanol component. Stabilizer can be added to the fuel before your pour it into the tank. After you add it, you let the engine run for several minutes to make sure stabilized fuel has permeated through the whole system. While you are at it, change the fuel filter. 

Give your tractor an oil change before winter storage as well. Instead of just draining the old oil and replacing it with new, take the time to also change the oil filter and to rub clean oil over the oil gasket. 

4. Disconnect the battery.

The battery will slowly lose charge as it sits unused in your tractor. It also will not remain as stable in cold, wet weather. It's best to remove the battery from the tractor completely. You should store the battery in warm, dry place, like your basement or on the shelf in your heated garage until you're ready to bring the tractor back out of storage. To help preserve the charge of your battery, you can run the tractor for several minutes before disconnecting or connect the battery to a portable charger before storing it. This will help when you reconnect the battery, because it will still have enough charge left to get the engine started. 

If you hope to periodically use your tractor during the winter for things like snow removal and other small tasks, you can keep the battery engaged and you won't have to worry about stabilizing your fuel. However, you should take care to use your tractor frequently enough that the battery remains viable and the gasoline doesn't go stale. Try to have someone drive the tractor every couple weeks just to keep it in good condition throughout the winter. 

For more ideas and assistance, contact services like Potestio Brothers Equipment, Inc.