John Deere Maintenance Monday: Diesel tractor shut off
Ever wonder why your diesel tractor keeps running after you turn off the ignition key? Find out what the problem may be.
Radio interview source: Shane Louwerens, John Deere Ag Tech Instructor, Northwest Mississippi Community College
In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Sid in New Jersey. He has a diesel tractor that keeps running, even after he turns off the ignition key. Why?
Shane Louwerens is a John Deere ag tech instructor at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He says diesels ignite from the heat of compression, not an electrical spark from a spark plug. As long as there is compression and fuel, it will keep running.
"So when you turn your key switch off, what you're in essence doing, is you have an electrical shut off solenoid inside your fuel pump, and that basically shuts your fuel off," he says. "If for any reason you ever have a bad wire, something happened and you didn't get power to that fuel shut-off, it will always run. It'll never stop."
The only way to kill a running diesel engine is to cut the fuel supply. There should be a manual fuel shut-off lever beneath the engine. Reach underneath with your hand and pull it out, or push it in, depending on your tractor. This will physically shut off the fuel.
Louwerens says you can also choke off the fuel by covering the air intake, because if the engine doesn't get air, it can't run. But, this must be done carefully.
"I've seen people try to use their hand to shut the intake off, and depending on the size of the diesel engine, it'll rip your hand off. It's a lot of compression and that thing's pulling in, and you always just get a piece of cardboard or wood – not your hand! – and you can cover up where your air filter goes, and it can't suck in any clean air," says Louwerens. "And it'll choke your engine down."
Louwerens says diesel engine shut-off issues are usually too complex for the average tractor owner to repair. You'll need to take it to your dealer to get it fixed.
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