Farmers Improving Fuel Efficiency with Tractor Maintenance

Laura Sternweis, Iowa State University

Consistent maintenance of farm tractors keeps Iowa farming enterprises running smoothly in any kind of weather. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension explains how routine maintenance and small adjustments in day-to-day operations also improve fuel efficiency and total energy costs.

“Tractor Maintenance to Conserve Energy” (PM 2089L) is available to download from the Extension Online Store,

“Fuel prices are already trending upward this year,” said Dana Petersen, ISU Extension program coordinator with ISU Farm Energy. “Making time for maintenance now not only will enhance your immediate fuel savings, but also will prepare your tractors for spring field work.”

Tractors and equipment are valuable farm assets, second only to land for many farm businesses. To help farmers protect their investment in a fleet of machinery, this publication illustrates tractor fuel and air filter replacement recommendations to improve fuel consumption and power output. It also addresses cool-down idling time for newer models. Additional topics include engine temperature, fuel selection and fuel storage.

“The mix of fuel and air inside a tractor’s engine directly affects its fuel efficiency and the availability of engine power,” said Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer. “On average, research shows that the simple act of replacing a tractor’s fuel and air filters results in an immediate 3.5 percent increase in engine power output.”

The publication is part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Conservation and Efficiency educational initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers’ awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy. The initiative also will help farmers explore alternatives to reduce farm energy demand and to improve their farms’ overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.

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