As a farmer, you may rely on your ears to tell you when a piece of equipment isn’t functioning correctly and needs maintenance. But when it comes to brake chatter, waiting to fix the problem until you hear it can be too little too late. With harvesting season in full swing, you don’t have extra time or equipment to accommodate costly repairs. However, if you look for symptoms and commit to regular maintenance, preventing brake chatter and its complications can be straightforward.

What are the symptoms of brake chatter?

Due to updated technology in the typical tractor, you most likely won’t hear brake chatter while operating your equipment unless the issue is extreme. In some cases, people outside of the vehicle may hear it, but there are warning signs you can monitor before it gets to that point:

  • Lack of hydraulic response – if you are not getting an immediate equipment response when shifting or steering, or if you find your brake pedals sticking, it can often be a key indicator of a brake chatter problem developing, and gives you time to address the issue.  
  • High hydraulic temperature – as the additives in your hydraulic system's fluids wear out and create the opportunity for increased friction, you may experience high hydraulic temperature as a symptom prior to any noise. If high temperatures are left for an extended time, it could cause permanent damage to your transmission.

How can farmers prevent brake chatter?

Brake chatter and its detrimental effects can mostly be avoided with preventive maintenance. Conduct an oil analysis at least once a year or every 300 hours, whichever comes first. It is nearly impossible to tell exactly what condition your equipment is in and what debris is present without an analysis.

Also, make sure you’re using a quality tractor hydraulic fluid, such as Cenex® Qwiklift® HTB®. Choosing the correct fluids for your equipment is essential and helps protect your long-term investment. Checking the owner’s manual is the most accurate way to determine the best product for your machine. If you no longer have the owner’s manual or want to confirm, you can also reference the Cenex Equipment Look-Up Tool. 

Identifying the early symptoms of brake chatter can save you a world of hurt later. To learn more about Cenex products for your farm equipment, visit our agriculture products page.

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