Keep your tractor steering in the right direction

Everything seems to be going just fine, until that one day something is not quite right. Your tractor’s steering seems a little stiff, loose or unresponsive. Maybe there a squealing or grinding noise that becomes noticeable, and it gets a little louder each time you run your tractor. Steering issues usually just start out as a hint of a problem. Because of that, it’s easy to ignore the first signs. After all, it’s still possible to run the tractor. But you can’t ignore tractor steering problems forever because they will continue to get worse.

Here are 7 signs that your tractor steering system needs maintenance:

1) Stiff Turning
When the steering wheel becomes harder to turn, the power steering system is highly suspect. Repairs could range from a simple refill of low fluid levels to replacing a worn-out power steering pump. If your fluid is low, investigate to locate any leaks, which could occur in the steering pump itself, hoses or steering rack.

2) Loose or Slipping Steering Reaction
If you no longer have precise control when steering, it could be anything from the power steering pump again to a worn steering gear, steering racks or tie rods. This problem starts as a slight reduction in turning capability and eventually grows to unmanageable steering.

3) Tractor Drifts to One Side
If the tractor keeps pulling to one side, it could be caused by a worn steering gear. The annoyance of a tractor that won’t maintain a straight line will only grow until it becomes uncontrollable.

4) Delayed Response
If you’re turning the steering wheel but the turning action isn’t happening right away, the power steering pump could be failing or it might be the pulley or other components that work in conjunction with the pump.

5) Vibration
Noticeable vibration when turning can be an indication of bad tie rods or steering racks. The vibration may also be accompanied by ratting sounds that occur when turning.

6) Unpleasant Sounds
When you hear a strange noise, your first reaction may be to pretend you didn’t hear it. But that only works so long. Once you hear it again, it becomes increasingly hard to ignore. Grinding noises often indicate a steering gear problem, while squealing noises often expose an improper fitting or worn belt.

7) Burning Odor
When your steering seems erratic and you can smell a burning odor, a belt may be slipping or the power steering pump pulley may have seized.

Stay in Control of Your Tractor
It’s important to keep your tractor’s steering system in prime condition. Being such a large and heavy vehicle, a tractor with unresponsive steering becomes even more difficult to control if the steering is not in perfect working order. Controlled steering is important for both maneuverability and operator safety. While you might be tempted to drive a tractor when the first signs of steering problems appear, it’s best to inspect the steering system sooner rather than later.

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Tractor in field