Getting grain carts ready for harvest

Typically, the combine gets the majority of attention when farmers prepare for harvest. However, performing some pre-season preventive maintenance on grain carts will help ensure they’re ready to roll.

Brad Niensteadt, service representative and technology specialist for Kinze Manufacturing, offers the following maintenance tips to help ensure a smoother harvest.

  • Augers – It is important to check augers for noticeable wear because over time they will become smaller in diameter and diminish their overall performance. Inspect for wear especially where grain transitions from the horizontal to vertical auger, and from the lower to upper portion of the vertical auger. These grain transition zones are high-wear areas and when worn, can cause slow unloading, extra strain on other driveline components, and crop damage.
  • PTO/drive belts – Make sure they are properly adjusted and the serviceable parts of the Power Take-Off (PTO) shafts are adequately greased. Ensure safety shields and in place and retainment chains are attached. Check drive belts for proper tension and alignment, as well as for heavy cracks in the grooves or other visible damage. Also, ensure the linkage is free to move and engages/disengages smoothly.
  • Gearbox oil – Check gearbox oil level and condition, and replace if needed. If the gearbox is run by chains, check the chain condition and lubricate.
  • Cart wheels – Reset the torque on the wheel nuts and check tire pressure. Check wheel bearings on wheeled carts and lubricate or repack bearings as necessary. For carts with tracks, check track alignment (see operators manual for proper procedure) and belt tension to ensure even wear of tracks.
  • Scale accuracy – Power up scale head to ensure no alarms and wiring is in good condition. Check the cart weight of at least five different loads with a legal-for-trade scale. Inspect all grain cart scale wires for damage and secure routing to prevent damage in the field.
  • Tarp – Look over the tarp and make sure there are no tears or wear spots. Make sure it rolls freely and has proper tension when closed. If using an electric tarp, ensure that power cables are clean and in good condition. Validate proper operation and that the remote control works properly.
  • Hitch clevis – Check the condition of the hitch clevis and if worn replace.
  • Safety Chains – Make sure all safety chains are in good working order and retainment clips are attached.
  • Safety Lights/Work Lights – Make sure all safety and warning lights are working and visible. Ensure unload work lights are operational and clean.
  • Slow Moving Vehicle Sign – Make sure the Slow Moving Vehicle sign is visible and in good condition. Clean it regularly through the season so that it is visible.

Niensteadt also recommends that farmers look for visible wear areas or leaks in hydraulic hoses. Check all hydraulic functions and if equipped with joystick control ensure all functions operate correctly. Finally, he says, grease all lubrication points before heading to the field, including track wheels, auger hinge area and PTO vertical auger bearings.

“Farmers will soon be heading back out to the fields with an army of combines, tractors grain carts and trucks to get the crop out,” Niensteadt says. “Now is the time to maintain grain carts to ensure they will operate at peak performance to maximize harvest speed and efficiency.”

For additional information, farmers can contact their Kinze dealer or visit

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