A tractor big or small is a big-ticket purchase and any expensive purchase just like a vehicle begs the question of how long will it last.
Well, for the most part, a tractor’s service life depends on maintenance and care and of course the respective tractor model.
But there are a few factors that can help you determine the longevity of your tractor known as tractor hours.
Read on to find out what exactly are tractor hours, the role they play in agriculture, how to calculate tractor hours, and factors that affect tractor hours.
Definition of Tractor Hours
While cars and trucks use an odometer to measure tractor hours, tractors work a bit differently and log hours any time the tractor’s engine is running.
These hours represent the number of hours the tractor’s engine has been running and give you a good idea of how long the tractor will last.
Unlike vehicles that have an odometer, tractors have an hour meter that displays how many hours the tractor has run.
Methods of Calculating Tractor Hours
As a novice agriculturist, you may think that calculating tractor hours is a bit overwhelming but the formula is actually quite simple.
Calculating tractor hours helps you gauge the degree of wear of most moving parts of the machine and the following data.
- When you operate a tractor at idle speed, 1 tractor engine hour equals to a full normal hour
- One tractor engine hour under normal load is accelerated by roughly a third, resulting in 40 minutes of real-time
- When you operate the tractor at full capacity loads, one tractor hour equals to 20 minutes of real-time
With the aforementioned information, both novice and seasoned farmers can easily calculate tractor hours.
How to Read an Hour Meter on a Tractor?
Reading the hour meter on a tractor is as simple as reading the numbers on a vehicle’s odometer.
- Sit in the cab of the tractor and locate the small 8-digit hour meter integrated into the dashboard. If you have a newer tractor with a digital hour meter, you’ll have to turn on the machine the see the information.
- Most tractor hour meters have 6 digits representing the hours, a decimal point, and 2 digits representing the partial hour reading.
- You can take this information and convert it into real-time minutes.
Factors Affecting Tractor Hours
Some factors can affect tractor hours like the terrain it runs on such as slopes and rugged terrain.
But the best way to know the tractor’s hour is by looking at the hour meter.
What is Considered a Lot of Hours on a Tractor?
There are several reasons why knowing the hours on a tractor is important, most notably when buying or selling a tractor.
The tricky part is that there is no sure-shot answer to how many tractor hours is too much.
But think about it this way, would you buy a car with 50k miles or 150k miles.
You can use this same analogy when buying or pricing your tractor for sale.
A good way to value a tractor is by looking up similar tractor models with roughly the same hours for sale.
Even though some tractors may have high miles, remember that tractors are built tough so some factors can help you value a tractor.
Start with the overall appearance.
If the tractor is in good shape and has little or no rust spots, check it for leaks, which usually show up as streaks of oil on the tires.
Next, ask for a maintenance history report and a log of all the maintenance work performed over the years.
If you still aren’t sure, get the tractor checked by a professional tractor mechanic.
How do you Convert Tractor Hours to Miles?
Converting tractor hours into hours is actually meaningless because the numbers that matter are those on the tractor’s hour meter.
That said, there is no way to convert tractor hours into miles.
Maintenance Based on Tractor Hours
Since each tractor model is different, you should refer to your owner’s manual for the tractor’s maintenance based on hours. However, here is a brief guide.
The air filters of a tractor should be checked and changed periodically depending on use and not the hours.
The same applies to fuel filters, which are designed to prevent contaminants from getting into the tractor’s engine.
With regards to numbers, the air filter and fuel filter should be changed first at 50 hours, second at 200 hours, and then every 200 hours after that.
You should change the engine oil of the tractor after 700 – 1000 hours of use.
The engine coolant protects the tractor’s engine from overheating and lubricates the moving parts it comes in contact with.
Check the coolant level periodically and top it up with the right coolant if needed.
Keeping tabs on the coolant is especially important before the winter months to ensure that the coolant will be able to resist freezing temperatures.
You can do this with a coolant hydrometer, which lets you know when to flush your system.
The belts of your tractor power several different components of the machine such as the alternator, and hydraulic pump.
The belts are prone to wear and tear so check them often for cracks and damage, which should ideally be after 200 hours of use.
These belts are made from rubber similar to the tractor’s hoses.
The hoses when damaged will result in leaks, which is an indication that they need replacement.
How Many Hours is a Lot for a Kubota Tractor?
A Kubota tractor that’s well maintained should last between 4500 – 5000 hours.
Any hours above 5000 hours are considered a lot for a Kubota tractor. With optimal care, some Kubota tractors can last upwards of 10,000 hours.
Calculating tractor hours is important for several reasons such as when buying or selling a tractor.
The tractor’s hours are logged on the built-in hour meter when the tractor is running.
If you know certain information such as if the tractor was running at idle or at high loads, you can also convert tractor hours to kilometers or miles but this is a far-off estimation and not really valid.
I’m Bryan Livingstone, a farmer with 21 years of experience, and I founded FarmingHandbook.com to share the wisdom I’ve gathered. Inspired by my own handbook, this site is your ultimate guide to all things farming. Read More!