Quick Troubleshooting Tips for Your Tractor’s Three-Point Hitch

Many larger tractors will have a three-point hitch on the back, meaning a hitch that is attached to the unit in three places; the middle and the outside edges of the back of the tractor. This helps to disperse the weight of anything being towed and in turn, keep the tractor from being dragged down at the back and having the front tires come up off the ground. While a three-point hitch is usually very sturdy and rarely fails to operate, it can falter at times. Note a few troubleshooting tips for when you might have problems with the hitch on your tractor.

1. The hitch fails to lift or lifts too slowly

Usually this happens when the oil used on the hydraulic arms get too cold and in turn, too thick. While the hydraulics themselves work with compressed air, the arms of the hitch are lubricated with oil so they can lift and lower to meet the load being towed. If the lubricants or oils get cold, they get very thick and in turn, can actually jam the arms. Give them time to heat up and note if this corrects the problem.

Note too that there could be a broken spring or an internal spring that is stuck and won’t allow the arm to lift or lower. You can try to manually lift and lower the hitch and see if you can push it into position; if not, chances are an internal spring is broken.

2. The hitch is not lifting high enough

There are links to the chains that the hitch uses to pull a load, and if those links are not set properly, the hitch cannot lift the load high enough. The chain may be giving too much drag and have too much slack and the hitch is lifted as high as it can be, but the chain is too long. Check the links and if necessary, move the center link to a higher hole on the hitch to take up the slack and drag of the chain. 

If the links of the chain are fine, the hitch may be dragging because it’s pulling too much weight. Be sure you’ve checked the maximum weight allowance of your hitch and if necessary, lighten the load. Note if this allows the hitch to lift as it should. If this doesn’t fix the problem either, the hitch may need adjustment or the chain may need replacement as it may have seized up inside the hitch and in turn, will not allow it to lift as it should. Try to find a new part a place like Peninsula Truck Parts.

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