Using your garden tractor appropriately and caring for it well will increase its lifetime. Here are some tips on how to use a garden tractor:
- Before you even put your key in the ignition, read the manufacturer's operating manual. The operating manual will have vital information, such as whether you need to add counter weights when using attachments mounted to the tractor. It's details like this that you don't want to learn the hard way.
- Familiarize yourself with the controls: Know the location and function of the controls. Know how to stop the tractor in a hurry should you experience an emergency.
- Check the oil and fuel level when the engine is cool. If you need to refuel the tractor in the middle of a job, turn the engine off and wait for it to cool if there is any possibility that the fuel might splash on the hot engine.
- Always check for parts that might have been loosened during use. Tighten or replace any parts that are not in good working order.
- Wear appropriate clothing--you don't want to get your clothing caught in any parts. Your clothing should be tightly fitted and as protective as possible--steel shank boots, long pants, eye protection and so on.
- Always start the tractor in neutral gear. Always start the tractor outside so that unsafe levels of carbon monoxide do not build up inside of a garage or building.
- Always look around you before starting out. This seems like such an obvious statement but sometimes when you are engrossed in a job or in a hurry, you forget. Make a safety check a part of your start-up routine every single time you turn the key in the ignition.
- Never drive tractors sideways on a slope. Drive the tractor up and down the slope instead. Avoid sharp curves and slippery surfaces.
- When putting on attachments, turn the tractor off, shift to neutral, and set the brake. Always use attachments that are made for the machine you are using and for the job you are using it for.
- Turn off the machine and take the key from the ignition when you're done with the job. If attachments are still on the tractor, disengage the power take-off (PTO).
- Let engine idle a few minutes before shutting it down.
- Service the tractor regularly and check levels of all fluids, including hydraulic fluid. I think of it as keeping an eye on the three Fs: Fuel, filters and fluids.
The range of garden tractors available is extraordinary. Depending upon which garden tractor you have, you may need to read further about how to use snow blades, front-end loaders or rotary tillers as you discover the many uses of your garden tractor.