Just because the winter season arrives on schedule yearly doesn’t mean that your tractor goes into the shed for the next several months. There are still plenty of uses for a tractor throughout the winter season, but getting it started (especially a diesel) can sometimes be an issue.
It’s more of a problem with diesel tractors than gasoline-powered tractors, but it can happen to both. So the most important thing you can do to get your tractor to start in cold weather, Diesel or gas, is to control the problem before it becomes one preventatively.
If it’s ice cold, you’ll struggle because gasoline, especially the gas that has been sitting in the tank for a long time, can gel up. On the other hand, Diesel doesn’t ignite with a spark but with a glow plug, which takes time. And that time is exacerbated by frigid temperatures.
If you’re John Deere won’t start in the winter, try these tips.
Starting a Diesel John Deere Tractor in Cold Weather
If your John Deere tractor has been sitting for quite a while, it will probably not start in the cold weather until you do a couple of things first.
- Remove and replace the oil
- Take out the battery and warm it up inside.
- Replace the fuel
- Replace the glow plugs
Now, you may not necessarily have to do all of these things at the same time. For example, if you’re new to operating a tractor and this is your first winter, some of these things may be too little too late.
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Remove and Charge the Battery
For example, a battery left outside in the cold for a long time is likely to be completely drained.
Removing it and bringing it inside to warm up will not recharge it, so you will have to recharge it while it is warming up (if you have the means to do so).
Something simple, like an automotive smart battery charger, will be sufficient. However, let the battery warm up before you start charging it.
Replace the oil
It’s always a good idea to change your John Deere Tractor’s oil routinely, but if it’s been sitting out in the shed for two months and it’s February now, it may not matter how new the oil technically is.
Drain it out entirely and replace it with synthetic oil, typically slicker and lasting longer than conventional oil.
Replace the Diesel
Diesel and gasoline both have a habit of thickening when it gets cold and sits in the tank or can for an extended period.
Diesel is not as flammable as gasoline, and even gasoline should be treated before storing it in a shed for a few months. However, once you replace the Diesel, you must focus on the glow plugs.
Glow plugs are the heating element that helps to ignite the Diesel, and a weak or bad glow plug can cause your tractor not to start.
Replacing the Glow Plugs
Over time, glow plugs produce less and less heat when activated. The glow plug is to diesel what the spark plug is to gasoline, and it’s how your Diesel ignites when you turn the key and engage the ignition.
Replacing your glow plugs will give you optimal performance when you are trying to crank the tractor up.
Starting a Gas John Deere Tractor in Cold Weather
Gasoline engines typically start better in cold weather than diesel engines because gasoline is far more flammable and is ignited with a spark rather than a heated glow plug.
However, that doesn’t mean you can depend on cranking it up in the dead of winter, especially when it’s been idle for a while.
- Keep your tractor in a heated garage
- Remove the battery and store it
- Use a heater designed to keep your engine warm
- Park your tractor in the sun
- Use fuel additives
- Replace your oil and fuel
Use a Fuel Additive
Many of the things that work for bringing your Diesel around will also work with a gas engine. However, like Diesel, gas loses its efficacy over time, especially when it’s cold outside.
One of the things that you can do before winter rolls in is place a fuel additive in your gas tank.
This works for diesel engines, except gas and diesel additives are different products.
One such product is the STA-BIL storage fuel stabilizer. You can buy it in multiple volumes, and it will treat 25-gallon tanks for months on end.
The best time to add it to your fuel is while the gas is still fresh. You don’t want to go out to the tractor after an entire month in storage and add STA-BIL to it.
Use an Engine Heater
If you don’t have the option of storing your tractor in a warm shed, you may want to consider alternative methods for keeping your engine warm and easy to start all winter long. For example, engine Block Heaters work well to keep your engine warm enough to fire when you’re ready.
Starting an engine in the bitter cold can also cause damage, especially over time. Engine block heaters minimize this and help the internal fluids reach operating temperature faster.
Preventative Ideas to Help Your John Deere Tractor Start in the Cold
Anybody with experience operating a tractor during the cold months has their own set of routines that they attend to that keep their tractors in the best working condition possible while it’s bitterly cold outside.
Keep Your Tractor Parked in a Heated Garage
If possible, always keep your John Deere parked in a heated garage. If you don’t have a heated garage, but you do have a storage shed, it may be worth the effort of getting the shed insulated and heated for the winter months.
Keeping it in a heated garage speaks for itself. It’s not harmful to the tractor to operate in freezing temperatures. It’s only harmful trying to start it in those conditions.
Park Your Tractor Where it Will be Exposed to the Sun
Of course, you’ll need to pay attention to when there may be adverse weather but parking the tractor out in the sun is a quick way to warm it up in the winter.
It’s not nearly as effective as parking it in a heated garage, but exposure to the sun will warm it up quicker than you think.
Even if the metal on the tractor isn’t hot to touch, it just needs enough exposure to get ready for use. You may have to wait longer than usual in the mornings to start it up during the winter, but it will be worth it in the end.
When temperatures are mild, parking your tractor outside is perfectly fine. However, if it’s a deep freeze and the middle of winter in Minnesota, leaving your tractor outdoors will probably not help.
Getting your John Deere tractor started in the middle of the winter is easier said than done. However, most of the ways to do it involve preventative maintenance and preparation.
Something as simple as keeping the battery inside can make all the difference.
Storing your tractor in a heated garage. Parking it where it will get some sun exposure and using fuel or engine block additives are all simple but effective ways to ensure that you don’t have any issues when the temperatures drop.