Tips For Proper Winter Maintenance

A question that I get asked a lot is: “why are the hydraulics on my machine slow in the colder months?”

For the most part, this is normal until the machine gets warmed up to working temperature. However, there are a few things that might help your machine operate better in the winter.

First of all, make sure that your oil is not milky. If it is, and the oil gets foamy, then it is a sure indicator that your oil is contaminated with water. This is usually due to condensation over a period of time and the oil needs to be changed more regularly.

Sometimes, a machine that sits out in the elements will have a rubber boot that is cracked. Rain will seep into that area and get into the transmission, which will contaminate the hydraulic system.

I also recommend to clean the suction screen at the bottom of the transmission every year. It can get a sludge buildup over a period time which will restrict oil up to the main hydraulic pump. This will slow down the hydraulics throughout the hydraulic system of the machine. Sometimes, if hydraulic functions feel like they are pulsating or vibrating, then that is a sure sign that the screen needs to be cleaned.

Some machines have what is called a “manual destroke adjustment plug”. The one on the later model “serialized” pump generally have what looks like a 1” cartridge plug with a ½” bolt head in the middle of it. The older “non serialized” pumps usually have a smaller plug with a “T” handle in the middle.

Manual destroke adjustment plugs on serialized and non-serialized John Deere hydraulic pumps

Both manual destroke adjustment plugs work the same way. When under normal use, the bolt or T handle is backed out. But if the machine struggles to start in the colder months, you can screw them clockwise until bottomed out before starting the machine. This manually pushes the internal destroke valve open so the pump will not build pressure. It will keep your system from being robbed of horsepower during startup.

Once the machine has started, you can manually screw counterclockwise and the hydraulics will start working again. Some people like to have this plug on, so if ever their hydraulics seem to act up, it can be manually opened and closed to clean any debris from between the valve and the seat.

I hope this gives a little insight into proper maintenance and care of your machine in the winter months.

Thanks, Jerry