Do You Check Hydraulic Fluid With Tractor Running

Do You Check Hydraulic Fluid With Tractor Running?

As a tractor owner or operator, you’re likely aware of the importance of maintaining your equipment, but have you ever stopped to consider how to properly check the hydraulic fluid levels?

More importantly, do you know whether you should check the fluid with the tractor running or not?

In this article, we’ll explore if you should check hydraulic fluid of your tractor when it is running and other important aspects.

What is Hydraulic Fluid and Why is it important in a Tractor?

First and foremost, let’s talk about what hydraulic fluid is and why it’s essential for your tractor’s performance.

Hydraulic fluid is a type of oil that’s used to transmit power through a hydraulic system, which is what allows your tractor to perform tasks like lifting and moving heavy objects.

Without hydraulic fluid, your tractor’s performance will be severely impacted, and you’ll likely experience issues with its functionality.

Do You Check Hydraulic Fluid With Tractor Running?

Now, let’s get to the million-dollar question: should you check your hydraulic fluid with the tractor running or not?

The short answer is No, you shouldn’t check the fluid with the tractor running.

Why, you may ask? Well, for one, it’s a safety hazard.

If you’re poking around under the hood while the tractor is running, you run the risk of getting caught up in moving parts, which can result in serious injury or even death.

But the safety factor isn’t the only reason you shouldn’t check the hydraulic fluid with the tractor running.

Doing so can also give you inaccurate readings, as the fluid is constantly moving through the system while the tractor is running.

This movement can cause air bubbles to form, which can make it appear as though the fluid level is low when, in reality, it’s not.

So, now that we’ve established that you shouldn’t check the hydraulic fluid with the tractor running, let’s talk about when you should check the tractor hydraulic fluid level and the proper procedure for checking it.

Do You Check Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Hot or Cold?

It’s a debate that’s been raging among farmers and tractor enthusiasts for decades.

Some say it’s best to check the fluid when the tractor is hot, while others swear by checking it when it’s cold. So, what’s the answer?

Well, the truth is that it depends on a few factors. Let’s break it down.

First of all, let’s talk about why it matters whether the fluid is hot or cold.

Hydraulic fluid behaves differently at different temperatures.

When it’s hot, it expands and becomes less viscous (i.e., it flows more easily).

When it’s cold, it contracts and becomes more viscous (i.e., it flows more slowly).

This means that if you check the fluid when it’s hot, you may get a different reading than if you check it when it’s cold.

So, which is better?

In general, it’s best to check your tractor’s hydraulic fluid when it’s cold.

Why? Well, when the fluid is cold, it’s at its most dense state, which means that you’ll get the most accurate reading of the fluid level.

Additionally, checking the fluid when it’s cold is safer, as the risk of burns or other injuries is reduced.

That being said, there are some situations where it may be necessary to check the fluid when it’s hot.

For example, if you’re in the middle of a job and you notice that your tractor’s performance is suffering, you may need to check the fluid right away, even if the tractor is still running and the fluid is hot.

In this case, it’s important to take precautions to avoid burns or other injuries, such as wearing protective gloves and using a dipstick or other tool to check the fluid level.

How Do You Know If Hydraulic Fluid Is Low In Your Tractor?

So, how do you know if the hydraulic fluid level is low in your tractor? There are several ways for it.

1. Check the hydraulic fluid level indicator

Many tractors have a hydraulic fluid level indicator on the dashboard or near the hydraulic system. This indicator shows the current level of hydraulic fluid in the reservoir.

If the indicator shows that the level is below the recommended level, then the hydraulic fluid is low.

2. Check the hydraulic fluid reservoir

Locate the hydraulic fluid reservoir on the tractor and check the level of fluid inside.

If the fluid level is below the recommended level, then the hydraulic fluid is low.

3. Check for hydraulic system performance issues

If the hydraulic fluid is low, you may notice a decrease in the performance of the hydraulic system.

This could manifest as slower response times, weaker or slower movement of hydraulic cylinders or other hydraulic components, or unusual noises coming from the system.

4. Check for leaks

If the hydraulic fluid is low, it may be due to a leak in the hydraulic system.

Check for any visible leaks or puddles of fluid underneath the tractor, as well as any signs of fluid on the hydraulic hoses or connectors.

What is the Proper Way to Check the Fluid Level in a Tractor’s Hydraulic Reservoir?

To start, turn off the tractor and let it cool down for a few minutes before opening the hood.

You want to give the fluid enough time to settle so that you get an accurate reading.

Next, locate the hydraulic fluid reservoir, which is typically located near the back of the tractor.


It’s usually a small, cylindrical tank with a dipstick attached to the cap. Remove the cap and wipe the dipstick clean with a rag or paper towel.

Then, reinsert the dipstick and remove it again, taking note of the fluid level on the stick.

If the level is low, add more hydraulic fluid until it reaches the appropriate level, but be careful not to overfill it.

While checking your hydraulic fluid levels may seem like a minor task, it’s one that can have a significant impact on your tractor’s performance.

By regularly checking the levels and maintaining them at the appropriate level, you can help extend the life of your equipment and avoid costly repairs down the line.

While doing the checks you might find milky hydraulic fluid in your tractor.

This means water has got mixed with the fluid and the hydraulic fluid needs to be changed.

Common Mistakes While Checking Hydraulic Fluid Levels

Now, let’s talk about some common mistakes people make when checking their hydraulic fluid levels.

One of the most common mistakes is forgetting to clean the dipstick before taking a reading.

If there’s dirt or debris on the dipstick, it can give you an inaccurate reading, which can lead to problems later on.

Another common mistake is overfilling the reservoir.

As we mentioned earlier, you want to be careful not to overfill the tank, as this can cause the fluid to foam and potentially damage the system.

How to Troubleshoot Hydraulic System Problems in a Tractor

1. Check the filters

One way to troubleshoot hydraulic system problems is to check the filters.

Over time, the filters can become clogged with debris, which can restrict the flow of hydraulic fluid and cause performance issues.

If you notice that your tractor is not performing as well as it should, check the filters and replace them if necessary.

2. Check Hydraulic Lines for Leaks

Another way to troubleshoot hydraulic system problems is to check the hydraulic lines for leaks.

Leaks can occur at any point in the system, from the reservoir to the actuators, and can cause a loss of pressure and performance issues.

If you notice any fluid leaking from your tractor, it’s important to identify the source of the leak and address it promptly.

If you’re not comfortable troubleshooting your hydraulic system on your own, it’s always best to consult a professional mechanic who specializes in tractor repairs.

They can help you identify and address any issues with your equipment and ensure that it’s performing at its best.

Best Practices For Maintaining Hydraulic Fluid Levels In A Tractor

In addition to regular maintenance and troubleshooting, there are a few best practices you should follow to maintain your hydraulic fluid levels in your tractor.

  1. One of the most important is to use the right type of hydraulic fluid for your system. Different tractors require different types of fluid, so it’s important to consult your owner’s manual or a professional mechanic to determine which type is best for your equipment.
  2. Avoid mixing different types of hydraulic fluid. Mixing fluids can cause a chemical reaction that can damage the system and lead to performance issues. If you’re unsure which type of fluid is in your system, it’s best to have it flushed and refilled with the appropriate fluid.
  3. Keep your hydraulic fluid reservoir clean and free of debris. This can help prevent clogs and other issues that can impact the performance of your tractor. Regularly inspect the reservoir and clean it out as needed.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, maintaining proper hydraulic fluid levels is an essential part of keeping your tractor in good working order.

By following the proper procedure for checking the fluid, avoiding common mistakes, troubleshooting issues, and following best practices, you can ensure that your equipment is performing at its best and avoid costly repairs down the line.

And remember, never check your hydraulic fluid levels with the tractor running – it’s just not worth the risk!