Taking Your Tractor On-Road
It’s no surprise that tractors were not originally designed around the need to drive them on paved roads. However, many tractor owners and operators need to operate a tractor occasionally or frequently on paving and public roads and highways shared by other, faster vehicles. So, if you ever find yourself in an “on-road” situation, keep these helpful tips in mind.
Consider disengaging 4-wheel-drive
On the pavement, driving your tractor in 2-wheel-drive eases the stresses placed on the transmission and other drivetrain components. One of the reasons for this is that tractor 4-wheel-drive systems are designed to provide maximum pulling power on soil and other surfaces with less traction than pavement provides. A tractor’s front and rear wheels don’t necessarily turn at exactly the same speed. This is not an issue and is actually a benefit to tractor performance on soil, grass or other surfaces with some slip and “give”. But for extended operation on dry pavement, this good 4-wheel-drive tractor feature may increase tire wear and drivetrain stress. So, operating in 2-wheel-drive mode may be the preferred setting during road transport. Be careful though, as 2-wheel-drive reduces the braking performance on most tractors (the front wheels will not have any braking capability with 4-wheel drive disengaged). If you are towing a load on the road with the tractor, you need to pay extra attention to braking performance when choosing to operate in 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive.
It’s not a car. It’s not a truck.
In all on-road operating circumstances, remember that tractors perform differently than trucks and cars designed for on-road operation. With a tractor, slow down a lot before turning during road transport. Tractors tend to have a higher center of gravity than cars and trucks. Turning and abrupt maneuvers at too high a speed are more likely to cause an overturn or loss of control with a tractor compared to vehicles designed to operate on highways.
Don’t floor it, maintain control.
When driving a tractor on the road, help maintain control by careful and cautious selection of your travel speed. You can also help maintain the stability of your tractor if you avoid operating the differential lock when on paved roads and paths. Take care to turn the steering wheel slowly, smoothly and gradually. Avoid sudden direction changes to keep you in control.
Lock the 3-point hitch.
When carrying 3-point-mounted implements during road transport, ensure the 3-point hitch is locked into the up position. Do not operate the 3-point hitch control lever while transporting implements.
When using the drawbar hitch to tow a trailer, wagon, or other attachment down the road; use safety chains. Use a drawbar hitch pin designed for that use and use a lynchpin, clip, or lock that prevents the hitch pin from falling out of the drawbar.
Connect split brake pedals.
If your tractor is equipped with a separate brake pedal for each rear wheel brake, be sure both pedals are locked together when transporting the tractor on the road.
Be car-cautious. Use your SMV.
There is significant difference between nations and among states, provinces and cities regarding the traffic rules that apply to operating tractors and other farm equipment on public roads and highways. If road transport is a factor in your tractor use, become familiar with your local, state, province and national rules to help avoid a traffic ticket or other issues with on-road tractor operation. Another point to remember is to display your slow-moving vehicle (SMV) sign on the rear of the tractor. If a towed or mounted implement blocks the SMV on the tractor, make sure there is an SMV on the implement.
We hope with these on-road tips, you can take your tractor down the street with confidence and free of hassle. Review the transport instructions in your tractor operator manual and always follow those tractor best operation practices.