What Does The EM Light Mean On A Kubota Tractor? [What to Do When You See It?]

If you open up your Kubota Tractor user manual, you might notice a few diagrams in there with codes. When we say “with codes,” we mean so many different codes that it would be difficult for a speed reader to sort through them all. But where is the EM code, and what in the world does it mean?

The EM code is almost hidden within the engine symbol on most Kubota tractors. It means that the engine is overheating. It’s not over the threshold yet. However, it is hot enough that it is causing other problems, such as shutting down various emissions components.

Of course, it can and probably will reach the overheating threshold at some point if you don’t do anything to head the problem off and rid yourself of the EM light. 

The light is usually (but not always) located in the bottom right corner of the control panel, with the two letters inside an engine symbol. 

What Causes the EM Light to Come On?

Since the EM light indicates that the emissions components in your Kubota Tractor are not operating, remember that it’s a symptom rather than a cause. 

The cause is overheating. If you see the EM light, it stands to reason that if the cause of the EM light isn’t fixed, you will start seeing other lights soon enough. 

  • Low Coolant Level
  • The coolant system isn’t operating correctly
  • Defective alternator belt
  • Debris is covering or partially covering the grill
  • The radiator screen needs cleaning
  • Cooling fins need cleaning
  • The water temperature indicator is defective
  • The oil level is too low

As with all mechanical malfunctions, the best route to take is to start with the easiest things you can check and work your way toward the most difficult. 

Fortunately, there is a more straightforward method, especially if your Kubota tractor was built within the last decade. 

Check the Diagnostic Port

While it’s not the simple, open and shut process that it is when you’re scanning the OBD2 port on a vehicle, Kubota tractors also have a diagnostic port that you can plug into and get an accurate breakdown of what is wrong, why it’s wrong, and where it is. 

All Kubota tractors now come equipped with a diagnostic port, and you would have to go back for several years to find one that doesn’t have some sort of rudimentary diagnostic connection port. 

While you can purchase a scanner for a vehicle, plug it in under the steering wheel, and get a full read-out of your diagnostic codes, it’s not that simple with a Kubota. 

You need a laptop, and you will also need a FLEX cable, along with the appropriate software. 

Jaltest also manufactures a full diagnostics kit that comes with all of the software you need to get started. But, of course, if you don’t have any kind of computer know-how, you will have to do things the old-fashioned way. 

What to Do When the EM Light Comes On

As we mentioned above, you first need to start simple and work your way up to the more complicated possibilities. For example, if you’re not into using the diagnostic port and a laptop, you will have to work through all of the mechanisms on your Kubota that affect its cooling capabilities. 

The first thing you should check is your belts—specifically your alternator belt. 

Your alternator is what keeps your battery charged, and your battery keeps specific electronic components going as you work. 

Check all your belts to ensure that they are not frayed, worn out, or loose. The second thing that you should check is your grill. It’s safe to say that looking over the grill is a simple maintenance procedure. 

All it takes is a little bit of debris to throw your whole cooling system out of whack. 

Check Your Fluid Levels

Low oil and low coolant can directly affect your Kubota’s cooling capabilities. Coolant is the obvious one, but your Kubota’s oil also has cooling abilities. 

If your coolant or oil is low, it’s not just a matter of topping them off, though you should certainly do that as soon as possible. 

You also need to see if there is a reason that the coolant and/or oil are low. The only reason any of these two should be low is that there is a leak in the system somewhere or because you haven’t changed either in a very long time. 

Spotting the source of a leak is not always the easiest thing, especially if it’s a very slow leak. So, instead of looking for where the oil or coolant is coming out, look for a source of pooling. Look for areas where there is evidence that coolant or oil is pooling up. 

If you can find that, it helps narrow down where the potential leak is coming from. 

Clean Your Radiator Screen, Cooling Fins, and Grill

This should be a regular part of any preventative maintenance routine, but if you haven’t done it in a while, you should do so, even if it is not the source of the overheating problem. 

Keeping these clean is imperative for a clean and efficiently operating Kubota. 

For the most part, you can clean all three with a soft bristle brush or a work rag. Some parts may require a bit more elbow grease, but that’s only going to be the case if you haven’t kept them clean in the past. 

When it comes to cooling, the airflow in your Kubota is a significant part of that. But, at the end of the day, your coolant is not the only thing responsible for keeping the engine from overheating. It goes a long way, but it’s not the end all be all. 

Check the Radiator Cap and the Water Temperature Indicator

A defective radiator cap will allow the coolant to leak, and it will also allow air into the system, which disrupts the coolant’s ability to flow where it needs to. The radiator cap is located on top of the radiator in a Kubota tractor, just like it would be in a vehicle. 

The water temperature indicator will probably be located around the coolant system (radiator, etc.) or near the top of the block. 

It’s a small sensor that feeds information to your Kubota tractor’s computer (ECM), which then relays that information to your control panel. 

When it fails, it may cause several faults, including some of the emissions components, because the Kubota won’t activate them if it believes there is an overheating problem. 

Like most computers, a Kubota is designed with a limited capacity for protecting itself when things are wrong or potentially wrong. 

Final Word

The EM symbol is often difficult to see because the EM letters are buried inside the engine light on some Kubota tractor models. However, when it’s illuminated, there is an overheating issue that hasn’t reached panic levels but enough to keep specific emissions components from running. 

Hopefully, it’s a quick and easy fix, and, honestly, most of the overheating problems listed above are avoidable with a good preventative maintenance routine.

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