Benefits of Universal Tractor Fluids in Construction Equipment

by Greg Wyatt
Commercial and off-Road Specialist
CLS #50642-16746

Greg Wyatt, CLS

There are many different drive-train oils recommended for off-highway equipment. Consolidating to the fewest number of fluids can be a daunting task, especially if the fleet has many different makes and models. Fortunately, many manufacturers now recommend the use of multi-purpose tractor hydraulic fluids for differentials, wet brakes, power take-off systems, hydraulics, and power-shift transmissions. These oils, also known as universal tractor fluids (UTF), are high-performance, multi-purpose lubricants engineered to meet or exceed transmission, differential, and hydraulic fluid lubrication requirements. The combination of select base oils with high-performance additives delivers the performance properties required in diverse, severe-duty hydraulic and drive train applications. These multi-purpose fluids definitely help to reduce the number of lubricants required in the shop. Let’s take a closer look at these amazing oils.

Modern high-efficiency hydraulic and power train applications utilize higher pressures and typically operate at increased temperatures compared to earlier models. Units also operate in very cold weather conditions where start-ups can be a real problem. To overcome these obstacles, Off-highway construction equipment UTFs contain viscosity index improvers that ensure good flow characteristics at cold-temperature start-ups and improved film strength at high operating temperatures. These VI improvers are shear stable, meaning they will not break down under high-temperature, high-pressure cycles of severe mechanical shearing.

Lubricant oxidation, or high-temperature deterioration, reduces lubricant service life and leaves heavy deposits that contribute to component failures. UTFs are formulated with oxidation inhibitors that resist oil deterioration, extend oil service life, and reduce the deposits that can lead to component failure.

UTF fluids have higher levels of detergency and are designed to maintain cleanliness of all systems. Additionally, these oils emulsify water, preventing free water in the reservoir from damaging high pressure pumps at start-up.

As always it is important when selecting any fluid to consult the manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance specifications to determine if a Tractor Hydraulic Fluid is recommended for your machine. For ultimate lubricant and component life, a comprehensive used oil analysis program, coupled with proper lubricant selection, will provide years of service for machines operating in the dirt.