Massey Ferguson tractor troubleshooting guide
In this section we will provide information & advice to help you solve common problems experienced with your Massey Ferguson tractor. Lets begin by pointing out that most mechanical problems are caused by neglecting to maintain and regularly service the unit and of course normal wear and tear. Your tractors handbook will detail daily and hourly checks and services. Should you not have the handbook for your model feel free to contact the GP Tractor Parts sales team to arrange a copy for you or advise you on your particular problem.
Difficult steering (Tight)
When steering becomes tight and difficult check the following points.
Kingpin (Spindle) thrust bearings have collapsed. This is normally represented by a gap between the bracket affixed to the top of the kingpin and the kingpin housing. Remove kingpin and replace thrust bearings.
Kingpins and /or steering pins suffer from a lack of grease and have become clogged with dirt and rust. Grease all points and if necessary remove, clean and replace worn parts.
Steering box needs attention. Steering box internal components such as shaft and bearings may need replacing or lubrication.
Front wheel weights mounted on front wheel rims tend to make the tractors steering heavier than normal. It is advisable to remove these and preferably mount nose weights onto the tractors weightframe secured onto the front support.
If you are experiencing difficulty in identifying the source of the problem, approach it systematically by jacking up the front end of the tractor so that the wheels clear the ground. Separate the steeing box by removing the tie rod ends from either the steering box or where they meet the front axle. Check the kingpins individually and steering box for tight turning.
Wandering & loose wheels
When driving if the tractor requires constant correction and wheels wobble check following:
Check wheel alignment by measuring the distances between the front and rear of the tyres (Fig. 1) The front measurement should 10-12 mm shorter (Toe-in)
Check tie rod ends for exesssive play and correct.
Check steering box for play and correct
Ensure that diff lock is disengaged as this will cuase the front wheels to dig in when turning.

Fig 1
Measurement A should be 10 to 12 mm less than measurement B
Be sure to inspect all components such as front axle centre pins and bushes for wear as well as axle and kingpin housings bent or distorted due to accident damage.
Radiator needs to be checked for free flow of coolant and to ensure that the core & tanks are free from rust. Remove bottom water hose and pour a constant flow of water through radiator until all signs of rust dissapear. Check the core to ensure that none have been blanked of thus restricting the efficient flow of coolant as this is s common practice of some repair shops. Inspect the condition of the radiator cap which is important. The radiator cap is designed to maintain the systems pressure thus bringing down the coolants boiling point and at the same time releasing exessive pressure. Long and short reach radiator caps are fitted to MF tractors, make sure that yours is the correct length (Fig.2). Check radiator for leaks by either pressure testing or if you do not have this facility run the motor until hot and leaks will become evident. Fill radiator with water and antifreeze mix. Antifreeze is not only for cold weather but also inhibits rust.
Ensure that fan blades are fitted correctly. The flow of air should be drawn towards the motor.
The thermostat should be checked for correct operation. Remove and place in boiling water and opening will be clearly evident. In South Africa with our warm climate it is advisable and common practice to remove the thermostat as it is not necessary. Do this by removing the centre part of the thermostat and refit. This will restrict the water somewhat and ensure that the motor does not run too cold.
Water pump should be checked for leaks and efficiency. Ensure that there is no play in bearings .
Water hoses should be checked for leaks and general condition.
If you are unable to solve the problem based on the above the unit needs to be taken to a workshop for a full diagnosis as certain problems may arise in older models such as exessive rust build up in motors water channels. A suitably qualified workshop such as GP Tractor Parts will also through years of experience detect unusual occurences not normally evident to the untrained eye. We have had amongst others poor quality water hoses which collapse on themselves under hard working conditions.
Fig 2
Ensure that this distance suits the radiator neck as MF have a long and a short type.
Often radiator cowlings are left off. These are important in directing air flow where it is needed.
Important advice
When repalcing or refitting water pump on 152/ 203 motor ensure that a brass or stainless steel plate is fitted between water pump and timing cover to avoid corrosion of cover by coolant.
The heater plug has an electrical element which glows red hot and a valve which opens alowing diesel through for burning in the inlet manifold
Activation of the heater plug is achieved by turning the key past the acessory position and holding it in the spring loaded position between acessory & start. The heater plug supply is located on terminal 3
Warm weather : If the system is bled correctly and the battery and starter motor are in good condition and the motor will not or battles to start the answer is simple. Your motor needs attention as it is suffering from low compression, blown head gasket, faulty injector pump etc. and needs to be comprehensivly assesed.
Fuel lift pump has a hole in the diaphram. Strip fuel pump by removing top. If this is the case replace same.
Injector pump front seal is leaking. remove injector pump and have it overhauled.
Thermostart (Heater plug) valve is not closing. replace.

Remove sieve & clean
The hydraulic pump is located in the diff housing below the tractors seat. Ther are numerous reasons why the hydraulics become slower, weaker or stops working. This is normally wear and tear or a small problem. The correct procedure is to remove the pump and lift cover for repair by a qualified workshop. If you are unable to take transport the entire tractor to a workshop we will in the near future be updating this section to explain how to remove the pump and cover.
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Front axle and steering

Most problems associated with the front axle and steering are wear & tear related or lack of sufficiant greasing of relevant points.

Overheating of the motor is caused by problems with the motors cooling system which are easily rectified by following the basic steps to correct and maintain the system to avoid future causes.
Difficult starting

Cold weather :
If the motor struggles to start in cold weather and you have assertained that the battery and starter motor are in good working order check the heater plug (Thermostart) for correct operation. Do not skimp on a cheaper battery. Check your supplier for the correct size as a smaller one although cheaper will cost more in the long run. If your tractor is older than ten years do not bother having the starter motor overhauled but replace with a new unit. Reconditioned starters have a limited life. The thermostart is located on the inlet manifold on the cylinder head and has both a diesel pipe and electrical wire attached to it. Remove the heater plug and with the diesel pipe and electrical wire attached ensure correct operation. The heater plug burns diesel in the inlet mainifold thus assisting starting. Replace heater plug if necessary. Once a new one is fitted ensure that diesel is flowing to it by loosening the pipe and bleeding the system at the fuel lift pump. NB: do not attemp to use quickstart and the thermostart in conjunction as you will be in for a nasty surprise!
Starting procedure: Open the accelerator throttle fully, turn the ignition switch to the cold start position and hold for 20 seconds, turn ignition further to start position and crank motor. If the motor does not take after 10 seconds repeat process. If after a few attemps you are unsucessfull consult a qualified workshop.
Diesel in oil sump

If your motor is building up diesel in the sump there are three places to check:
Cutting out:

We receive many calls from clients complaining that the tractor cuts out and after bleeding the diesel system it runs for about a half hour before cutting out again. To resolve this problem remove the fuel tap under the fuel tank and clean the sieve attached to the tap. However the fuel tank is by this stage in need of a good clean by a qualified workshop and cleaning the sieve will only be a temprorary solution.
Stuck in gear:

Older Massey Ferguson models with an unsynchronised (Crash box) have a not uncommon problem of getting stuck in gear (Normally reverse gear). There are normally two causes - worn reverse idler gear and when stopping the tractor the clutch is released just before the engine has stopped turning thus throwing the reverse gear backwards through momentum and sticking it in gear . Call us and we will explain how to reset the gearbox through the oil filler cap located next to the gear levers or send a technician to site. This is a temproray solution as the gearbox needs attention.
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