Inflation, High gas prices, high grocery bills. There is no doubt things cost more and it looks like prices are going to keep rising.
Now, it’s important to save where you can, but it is crucial to save smartly and not cost yourself more down the road. What am I talking about? Smart savings options usually involve cutting out “wants”. This includes things like driving a little less, eating out 1 less time a week, or comparing costs at the grocery store and going with a generic brand.
Savings options that can come back and bite you are typically maintenance related. This involves things like skipping oil change intervals, not replacing worn tires on a tire, getting behind on crucial home repairs, going with a cheap phone protector, or on a more personal note, missing routine medical or dental appointments.
Trying to save on maintenance-related things can results in huge expenses down the road while saving on “wants” typically has a low long-term effect. Let’s try and simplify this concept.
Personally, I like the phrase “protect what you have.” This is a core concept taught in business courses to help businesses survive seasonality and periods of slow sales, but it makes a great motto for individuals as well.
Think about it, the highest value things people own are typically their house, car, boat, UTV, tractor, and or lawnmower. These high-value items make up a person’s wealth, net worth, credit score, and ability to get a loan. If you keep these things in great shape and running well you are maintaining your wealth, net worth, and borrowing power.
Protecting these items will help you survive an economic slowdown and when things come back around you will be in a good position, even though you may have gone through some hard times and had to give up some “wants” along the way.
As a company, we run a lot of maintenance cost analyses for major manufacturers, but instead of running through a business example let’s look at some examples closer to home.
The cost of maintaining a compact tractor. Many of our customers own sub-compact and compact tractors so let’s run through some maintenance costs versus repair costs and maintained value vs unmaintained value. Typical tractor maintenance will include greasing, engine oil changes, and checking the hydraulic oil level.
The main grease joints on a tractor will be the loader arms, backhoe arms, quick attach couplers, steering assembly, and driveshafts. The cost of a good tube of grease is between $6.5-$20/tube and the cost of a good hand grease gun is between $55-$75. I said “good tube of grease” because quality does make a big difference in how well your machine is lubricated and a $2, $3, or $4 tube of grease will not contain high-pressure additives, high-temperature additives, and have a high stability rating.
High pressure and high-temperature additives ensure you have the protection you need, and the stability rating ensures the grease stays in the right place. If you grease every 10 hours (general recommendation) you want to know your grease is going to last the full 10 hours—cheap greases typically leak out or separate after only a few hours of operation.
Total Cost for 100 hours of operation: Grease gun $55, 1 tube of good grease $6.5 Total: $61.50
$61.50 may seem like a lot but let’s look at the cost to repair a drive shaft bearing and the cost to replace the pin and bushing in a loader arm. We reached out to a local equipment dealer and asked for the replacement cost of a U-Joint bearing in a steering assembly and the cost to replace a loader arm pin and bushing.
The result is $200-$500 to replace a steering assembly U-Joint and $300 per pin and bushing on a loader arm. Just for reference, there are 8 separate pins and bushings on each side of a tractor loader for a total of 16 (16x$300=$4800). If you did not grease in 100 hours or used poor grease the maximum cost would be $5,300 in repairs.
Total repair costs are between $300 and $5,300.
Moving on to the engine oil. Before you start the tractor, you should check the engine oil every time and change the engine oil at 50 hours of use and then every 100 hours after that initial oil change (check your owner’s manual for confirmation). The cost of an oil change and a new filter is between $150 and $300 depending on the tractor.
Now let’s say you weren’t checking the oil and the engine oil level had gotten extremely low and now the engine is making some bad sounds (sounds like two handfuls of change and a bowling ball in the dryer machine bad). It needs a new engine or a complete rebuild of the current engine.
Total repair costs are between $4,000 and $6,500
Engine oil may be the most important fluid on a tractor, but hydraulic oil level is not far behind. A lot of tractor manufacturers recommend a hydraulic oil change or at least a filter change at 100 hours to make sure any unwanted fluids left from the manufacturing or assembling process are removed. Unwanted fluids may include detergents/cleaners, cutting oils, and assemble or gasket pastes.
The total cost for a hydraulic oil and filter change is $150-$250 depending on the tractor. The cost to replace a hydraulic pump because the oil level got too low is $1400 to $2400. If the tractor has a shared reservoir for the hydraulic system and transmission the repair cost could be 2x higher.
The total repair cost is between $1,400 and $4,800
So let’s put all the numbers together using our tractor example:
Cost of new compact tractor $15,000
|Possible Repair Costs
|Cost to Grease per 100 hours: $61.50
|Repair cost from not greasing: $300-$5,300
|Cost to check/change engine oil: $150-$300
|Cost not to check/change engine oil: $4,000-$6,000
|Cost to check/change hydraulic oil: $150-$250
|Cost not to check/change hydraulic oil: $1,400-$4,800
|Total Maintenance Cost: $611.50
|Total Possible Repair Cost: $16,100
|Value of maintained tractor $14,300
|Value of unmaintained tractor: $4,000*
*This value is based on the value of remaining parts.
If you compare the two values it is easy to see why maintaining a home, car, tractor, etc. pays off in a huge way! Just imagine if you wanted to sell the tractor in the example. Would you want the $14,300 or the $4,000? The $14,300 will get you a car, a new roof, or a ton of groceries whereas the $4,000 will get you groceries for a couple of months. Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance. Protect everything you have.
At AET we understand that maintenance is not everyone’s cup of tea and that it can be very confusing to people new to the maintenance world, which, is why these blogs and videos.
We want to help you understand and help you protect your investments whether that is a home, car, UTV, or tractor. We are your maintenance partners, and we are committed to bringing you products that will protect your equipment, keep them running smoothly, and protect their value.
Now, we understand that everything is expensive so we decided to help by offering an ECO-Grease Gun Kit. No extras, just a grease gun that will do the job every time you need it and a tube of GREAT grease that will meet and exceed OEM recommendations.
The lube-shuttle® pistol grip grease gun will not leak or waste grease and the G200EP grease will hold in place and protect your equipment even in extreme working conditions. Perhaps best of all—if you have lubricant questions, call us. We’re here to help.