Maintaining A Healthy Tractor Fuel System

April 2, 2021

Properly caring for your fuel system can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Fuel sediment bowl on a John Deere tractor
Fuel sediment bowl on a John Deere tractor

As tractor fuel systems become more complex with technology improvements and emissions regulations, it is becoming more important than ever to be attentive to your fuel injection system. Modern tractor engines sold in the United States and Europe must comply with Final Tier IV regulations, which increases the need to monitor your fuel systems. Preventative care helps save you time and money. A damaged fuel injector system can be several thousand dollars when you account for all-in repair costs.

Prepare For The Seasons

We all know that the outside of a glass full of ice water becomes wet during summertime even though there is no leak. This is due to temperature changes, condensation and precipitation. A similar effect can occur much slower inside a tractor’s fuel system as the seasons change.

Water inside a fuel system can wreak havoc. Newer fuel systems are more sensitive to water than their predecessors.

When winter approaches it is important to add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank. The stabilizer prevents the diesel fuel from gelling up (this can occur when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit / minus 12 degrees Celsius). There are many brands and offerings - make sure you use any specified fluids that your dealer and manufacturer recommend. Remember that using proper fluids is essential to maintaining a new tractor warranty in good standing.

There are a few steps to stabilize your fuel:

  • Fill up the tank to 80-85% full. This reduces the amount of air in the tank, which then lowers the surface area for moisture to build up. It also prevents fungus from growing inside the tank (yes, this can happen).
  • Add the amount of stabilizer fluid as indicated by the directions. Each formula differs, so read the directions, measure, and then add it into the tank.
  • Note that the amount of stabilizer added may depend on the temperature ranges you expect. This will vary by region and climate.

Fuel stabilizer also adds a lubricant that keeps your fuel injector system healthy. Low sulfur fuels required by emissions regulations have a lower amount of natural lubricants - as a result, your fuel system is more sensitive. Fuel stabilizer helps prevent premature wear on the system injection pump system.

Checking Your Fuel Sediment Bowl

You should check your fuel sediment bowl each time you start up your tractor. Look to see if the floater is elevated (indicates water), or there is sediment buildup (can happen over time). A floating ring in the fuel bowl indicates the presence of water. If the water level rises enough it can make its way into the engine and cause a lot of damage to both your tractor and your pocketbook.

How To Remove Water From Your Fuel Sediment Bowl

If there is a moderate amount of water in your fuel bowl (it has not yet spilled over into the engine) then you can address the issue on your own with a few easy steps:

  1. Close the fuel shutoff valve
  2. Unscrew the fuel bowl
  3. Clean the fuel bowl, and remove any sediment buildup
  4. Check the filter to make sure it is sediment-free as well
  5. Prepare and check that all parts are included when you re-assemble (plastic disc, spring, O-ring on the bowl)
  6. Re-attach the fuel bowl and make sure it is a tight snug fit. You do not want to over-tighten it


Properly caring for your tractor's fuel system is easy if you remember to prepare it for the seasons and check it before starting the engine. Similar to the age-old saying "A stitch in time saves nine," following these steps will save you time and money.


How to replace fuel sediment bowl

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