Tips for the New Owner of a Used Kubota

A clean, well maintained and restored Kubota B6000E 2WD.

A clean, well maintained and restored Kubota B6000E 2WD.

Photo credit: smokinhart from our forums

Ahhh yes, you have taken the leap and plunged into the orange tractor club. Your Kubota B6200 is solid runner and you got a good deal on it too, maybe even picked up a belly mower and a front end loader as part of the package deal. What now though? Well, your Kubota is going to probably need some minor repairs and will need ongoing maintenance. Where do we start?

A Checklist!
This is a handy checklist that you can use to quick start getting to know your new-to-you Kubota. If you already have another piece of orange equipment then this guide is a good refresher. On the other hand, if you have never seen, touched, sat near or smelled a diesel engine before, no matter, you will be comparing CCAs and suction filters in no time!

Take Aways
Aside from specific details and procedures, the things that we hope you take away after running through this guide are:

  • getting to know your equipment better (controls, filter locations, manuals, etc)
  • insight into the mechanical state of your equipment
  • confidence when it comes to operating, servicing and discussing your Kubota
  • an understanding that maintenance is ongoing – be prepared to pay with a little time and money to maintain and service your equipment

Let us begin.

There is a very good chance that unless the previous owner of your equipment was Service Dept. Vic, that it will need a good cleaning. A tractor is a piece of dirty, earth moving, rototilling, tree stump pulling, mowing, snow plowing heavy iron. Generally a tractor is not something we think about washing very often if at all.

Cleaning is important because it will knock the years of dirt and grease off allowing you to better inspect for leaks, cracks and other wear and tear. Rinse it down with degreaser and pressure wash it off. If you have your Kubota trailered do not be afraid to pull it right into the wash bay at your local car wash. This type of cleaning is always the first thing we do with our equipment.

Parts and Operator’s Manuals
If you know what model Kubota you are getting you could even acquire these in advance. You will definitely need at least the parts and operator’s manuals. As equipment changes hands these manuals tend to get lost, so if your new purchase does not come with these manuals we recommend you get them. They cost anywhere from $30-50 each and are well worth the time to track them down. eBay or your local dealership are good starting points.

A parts manual is also handy not just because it provides part numbers. Each page details an exploded-view diagram of a section of your equipment. These exploded-views really come in handy when a repair calls for disassembly or if you have a broken part in your hand and are not exactly sure what it is.

An operator’s manual will detail not just how to control your equipment but other helpful things like: fluid levels, capacities, load limits, implement hookup and removal, wiring diagrams, simple troubleshooting, maintenance intervals and so on.

Typical look and feel of a Kubota operator's manual. This one for the B9200 is out of print so be sure to check on eBay!

Typical look and feel of a Kubota operator's manual. This one for the B9200 is out of print so be sure to check on eBay!

We have an entire article on Kubota reference manuals that is worth a read.

Assess the Situation
After a good cleaning your next objective is to test the operation of everything on your tractor. The lights should work. The horn should work. Three point arms should lift and lower smoothly. You will know how everything is supposed to work because you have your operator’s manual close at hand.

General things to make note of as you go about your assessment:

  • leaks of any kind – oil, fuel, coolant
  • burnt smelling hydraulic fluid
  • milky/spotted oil or hydraulic fluid
  • anything that looks like a makeshift repair or anything non-standard – bypassed seat safety switches, mis-matched bolts, baling wire holding together some major engine component
  • missing PTO shield
  • missing, damaged or rusty ROPS (roll over protection system)
  • missing or damaged seat belt
  • the location of any grease zerks that you will need to return to later and lubricate

Quick Tip: Tighten Those Bolts
We are just about to talk specifics but here is a quick tip. Making sure each bolt you come across is nice and tight is actually a good way to get to know your equipment. As we go from area to area (air, fuel, oil, cooling and electrical systems) take the time to find the right socket or wrench, wipe down any grease or goo and button everything up nice and tight.

Air Filter
Replacing the air filter is recommended. The previous owner may have just replaced it, but we cannot be sure of that. Best to start a new service history right now.

Remove air box end cap

Air box assembly.

Your air box is at the front of the tractor and has an end cap on it. When you open up the box you will see the filter element but also a silver bowl. A common mistake is to not dump the dirt and debris inside this silver bowl – be sure to do that. Install a new air filter and secure the rubber washer at the base of the filter, if not, unfiltered air will bypass the filter assembly entirely and make its way to the combustion chamber! Oops!

Typical Kubota air filter.

Typical Kubota air filter.

Read more about your air filter and watch a video in our Kubota Servicing 101 – Part 1 lesson.

Fuel Filter
Kubota’s fuel filters come in two varieties: either a canister spin-on style (like an oil filter) or the more popular paper element in a sediment bowl. If you have an early L-series like an L175, L185, L1500 or L1501, you have a spin-on. Regardless of the type, we are going to want to replace this filter too. Order in advance to save yourself some time.

If you have the spin-on style simply place a catch basin below the filter, close the fuel petcock/valve, and spin the filter off. You will want to make sure the rubber o-ring at the top of the filter came off. Next, just spin a new filter on but not all the way – you can save yourself having to bleed the lines if you leave a slight 2-3 thread gap at the top. Turn the fuel valve back on, let the diesel fill the filter and run over and then finish tightening the rest. If you tighten all the way you will get an air lock and will need to bleed your injector lines.

A sediment bowl style filter is similar. The bowl is held onto the bottom of the fuel petcock by a large retaining ring. Loosen the ring to drop the bowl and get access to the paper filter inside. Replace with a new filter on top of the spring you find below the existing filter. Again to avoid bleeding the lines, tighten most of the way and then let the fuel petcock open, then finish tightening.

A filter-in-bowl style fuel filter.

A filter-in-bowl style fuel filter.

You can read more about servicing your fuel filter and watch a video in our Kubota Servicing 101 – Part 2.

Oil Filter
As with the air and fuel filters you will want to perform an oil change. Kubota’s equipment uses a standard spin-on style filter that you can either acquire from the dealership or an aftermarket supplier like NAPA or Wix. If you have a gray market Kubota like an L1500, B1600 or B5000 those part numbers are a little harder to track down – luckily we them right here.

Kubota engine oil capacity ranges from 4-8 quarts so be sure you have enough replacement oil on hand – again something that your operator’s manual can provide you with specifics on.

When you drop the oil make note of its color – milky, green or spotted oil indicates that you have an oil/coolant mix somewhere and would have to diagnose further. Dark or black oil is okay – oil does get dirty as it cleans out and lubricates the engine.

Cooling System
Your Kubota’s cooling system consists of the radiator, upper and lower radiator hoses, a fan, a fan belt and a waterpump assembly. Most owners have a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water serving as their coolant. We do not recommend running just water because it causes all sorts of problems if it freezes while still inside the engine block.

There is a lot to cover, so we will summarize here and leave it to you to read Kubota Servicing 101 – Part 3:

  • radiator hoses should be firm but flexible – if they have cloth on them, they are original and must be replaced
  • fan belt should be tight with little slack and no more than 1/2″ of deflection – Kubota lettering indicates it is original and time for replacement
  • inspect the fan – it should have all of its blades crack and dirt free
  • pop the cap and look inside the radiator – expect to see green antifreeze – if not and there is even the slightest chance of freezing, replace the coolant
  • blow out the leaves, grass and debris from the front of the radiator
Test rad hoses by feeling for soft spots, twistly slightly and looking for tears or listen for ripping.

Test rad hoses by feeling for soft spots, twistly slightly and looking for tears or listen for ripping.

Electrical System
You are looking to confirm that the battery can hold a charge and that the charging system is working to recharge the battery. We have a lot of Kubotas with malfunctioning electrical systems where the owners just “make do” – whenever they need to start their equipment they just borrow the battery from the truck. That is a huge hassle, so do not take short cuts and do things right the first time. Using your Ohm meter, measure across the terminals. A properly charged battery should be in the close vicinity of 12.6V.

CCA (cold cranking amperes) is a measurement of the battery’s ability to deliver current at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend a battery that can deliver at least 850 CCA, 1000 CCA if you live in a cold climate.

When it comes to the battery terminals make sure you have clamp style connections – that is, a battery cable that sandwiches the lead at the back end of the connector. Typical enclosed style connectors are prone to breaking and thus provide a bad contact leading to intermittent electrical failure.

Left - clamp-style connector. Right - enclosed-style connector where the wire can break at or inside the base of the connector leading to unexplainable electrical malfunction.

Left - clamp-style connector. Right - enclosed-style connector where the wire can break at or inside the base of the connector leading to unexplainable electrical malfunction.

One last thing before we move onto another section – the battery hold-down bracket. Your Kubota may not be equipped with this anymore as it is a common thing to go missing. The point is to hold the battery tight against the battery support bracket so that the lead plates inside the battery do not smash themselves to pieces. If the plates are damaged the battery will not hold a charge.

A battery and hold down bracket.

A battery and hold down bracket.

Read more about inspecting your electrical system in our Kubota Battery Basics article.

Hydraulic Suction Filter
If you have an earlier Kubota like a L175, L185, L245 or a B5100, B6100 or B7100 you have a hydraulic suction filter that must be serviced on a regular basis. Most folks forget to do so which leads to one of two things: 1) the filter get plugged and hydraulic performance suffers or 2) the filter disintegrates and the fine mesh material ends up circulating around in the fluid.

The hydraulic suction filter in your Kubota is essentially a fine mesh that collects flash and debris.

The hydraulic suction filter in your Kubota is essentially a fine mesh that collects flash and debris.

If you have slow hydraulics, shuddering, jerky front end loader movement or poor 3-point performance this suction screen is likely at fault. You will need to locate the filter, clean and inspect and possibly order a new one. Read our article on hydraulic suction filters for the specific details on how to perform this maintenance.

Most Kubota tractors have a PTO speed of 540RPM which is about 540 too much if you get your arm and leg stuck in one. If not already equipped get a PTO shield that adequately covers the PTO stub shaft at the rear. You will also want to make sure the implement drive line is shielded in the usual plastic casing.

Kubota has a ROPS and seat belt program that they offer through their dealership network. If your Kubota is not already equipped, get and use a ROPS and seat belt. Seriously.

Dan's nearly-rolled Kubota B2320. He blamed it on the snow.

Dan's nearly-rolled Kubota B2320. He blamed it on the snow.

If your new-to-you Kubota comes with a front end loader or maybe a mower, take the time to inspect and service them. Locate and service grease zerks on the loader pivot pins. Raise and lower the loader and make note of any shudder or poor lifting performance – either could indicate problems with the hydraulic system.

Turn the mower deck over and blast out any accumulated debris with a pressure washer. Inspect the blades and belts for wear and replace as needed. You will also want to make sure the mower deck gear assembly is properly lubricated – same goes for a rototiller. Speaking of rototillers, we have an article on them as well. Mid-mount or “belly” mower decks should be removed during the winter time.

Here are some quick tips to get your new-to-you Kubota up to speed:

  • give it a good degreasing and pressure wash
  • order the parts and operator’s manuals in advance
  • assess your equipment for leaks, cracks, off smelling oil or hydraulic fluid and things that are broken
  • replace the air, fuel, oil and hydraulic filters and fluids
  • your battery should be rated 850CCA or higher with clamp-style cable ends
  • make sure you have safety equipment installed and use them
  • grease your front end loader and mower deck

Be prepared to spend the time it takes to maintain your Kubota. Simple observations with the correct preventative follow up with pay you back ten fold when you can avoid a costly repair later.

Next Steps
Consider joining our forums where you can give advice or ask for it anytime of the day or night. Also be sure to check out our related articles for more orange tractor reading.

Mr. K

Related Articles
Kubota Servicing 101: Part 1 – Air Filter
Kubota Servicing 101: Part 2 – Fuel Filter
Kubota Servicing 101: Part 3 – Cooling System
Kubota Battery Basics

1 Comment

  1. dan Said,

    August 15, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

    Great articles/video I am getting ready to be a first time orange tractor owner and you site is exceptionally helpful…. THANKS!

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