Looking at a M4050 - Thoughts

LarryBud

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As stated above, I see a 1984 M4050 is available. It as 5002 hrs showing. I'm sure I'll have no reliable service history as it's a used tractor dealer.

Seems like a lot of hours but I just want it as a designated mower. I haven't personally inspected it yet but pictures look ok. Any top line thoughts on a 84 with 5K on the clock?
 

PaulL

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Jul 17, 2017
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That's only 140 hours a year - 3 hours a week. It's been very lightly used. The question is, doing what? I guess you never know till you ask, and looking it may tell you if it's been garaged, whether it looks well looked after. Could be a tractor on a horse farm or something like that that generates very light use. Does it have a loader?
 
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GeoHorn

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The reason I selected an “M” is not because I needed that much HP or size. It ‘s because they are by definition “utility” tractors… extremely basic, rugged, durable, workhorses. 5K hours is not too many. If cared-for…it has 4-times that much ahead of it before major engine work.

Do your “due diligence” and check it out thoroughly.

BEFORE you go look at it…. Get the OWNERS MANUAL (from online or other source) and READ IT THRU! Then you will know how things are SUPPOSED to work…and you will be smarter about noticing why the low-fuel warning lite is also a battery-charge-warning…and that when you turn ON the key…should illuminate. (If it doesn’t…then ask WHY. Was the bulb burned out..?? or REMOVED to HIDE something…?) (BTDT)

If paint is faded…rubber dried/cracking…. hoses faded grey and fittings corroded…wiring chewed by mice or indicative of multiple amateurish repairs….it was stored outdoors and not cared for.

Check all grease fittings (zerks)… lots of evidence of grease..? Good. Freshly greased…? Seller is putting best foot fwd….so ASK what type of grease and How Often greased.

ASK WHAT TYPE/BRAND of HYDRAULIC fluid is in that tractor. “Traveller” Brand from TSC…? “303” or some other “generic” …?? or Seller doesn’t know…?? Then I’d be VERY cautious about this tractor. Either it has been “cheaped out” in maintenance… or the seller is ignorant/uncaring/deceptive or possibly all three.
Genuine Kubota fluids..?? Great! When was it last changed?

Ask when the engine oil was last changed, and what type has been customary and how often. (100 hrs normal) Do not get into whether mineral or synthetic or which brand is best.… at this time it makes no difference whatsoever… you will do what you wish to do after you own it and you cannot change the past. You just need to know when it should be changed again…and that a proper diesel-rated oil was used in the past.

Take along a volt/ohm meter and check the battery BEFORE start…and again after it’s running. (12.7 beffore and 13+ with alternator on-line.)

Dry Clutch travel .. (3/4” free-play before engaging throw-out bearing is OK. None or excessive ..more than 1”…. could mean a worn clutch. Place it in high-gear with brakes “set” and let the clutch out slowly at 1200 RPM…should “Kill” the engine… if clutch slips… probably splitting the tractor is in the future.

Tire tread depth? More than 50% is preferable…less than that is a $2K job coming up. Sidewall cracking…? Evidence of repair-plugs..?? (bad)
Also ck for liquid-filled tires and find out WHAT are they filled with. (Only Air… Good. Liquid…. chloride means rusted wheel-rims hazard. Beet-juice…is OK …IF you want/need that weight.)
Spray some soapy solution onto schrader-valves and if possible over tires to detect leaks. (Expensive to fix.) Check tire pressures (another good reason to have an Owners Manual) and if the original or approved replacement tire sizes are installed. (Especially important if 4WD that only specified sizes be installed on all 4)

Coolant clean, nice antifreeze solution..? Good. Plain water or dark/brown…bad. Ck for rusty water trails at engine fittings and below water pump….all evidence of poor mx practices unless that pump is newly-replaced and fresh antifreeze and hoses are in place.

Look beneath tractor at spin-on engine and hyd filters… Damaged, dented or collapsed..? Tractor may have been used for a bull-dozer in heavy brush. Filters may be by-passing dirt. Are the filters Kubota, Wix, NAPA, Luberfiner,…?? good… Fram, or cheap unknown brands..? Not a deal-killer…but gives you an idea of level/quality of care. Are the filters dated/hours-noted on them? Good. (any other written mx records or receipts..? Good.)

Check the fuel filter for evidence of water, leaking, or recency of cleaning/change-out.

Check 4WD shaft covers for chafe-thru, bent-up, or rubbing. (Heavy brush abuse.)

Lastly… Do Not Fail To Ask: What is wrong or weak with this tractor that you know of…?
(When you get it home and find things…. you will then know if seller was forthright or not. It will make a difference to you, I promise.)

BTW, if you can get the serial number of the tractor you can call Kubota dealer and find out WHO/WHEN/WHERE it was first sold and if/when it was traded back to a dealer. You might also find out if it has any records of major repair or service-recalls. (Call your sherriff to see if it’s been reported stolen. You will need that tracotr serial number, usually on the frame below the engine and is the one you need to check.
The engine serial will usually be on the block behind/near the injector pump..

Start it up. First, feel the engine and exhaust manifold (hopefully cold and hasn’t been warmed up before you got there). If the temp is above 40F… and it cranks and fires up smoothly without glow-pugs…that’s Very Good. If it’s below 40F…it’s not bad if it needs glow-plug fo r5-10 secs…but when when it starts…either way… a short blast of dark smoke is OK….but in 15 secs or less it should be running with clear exhaust. Any White smoke is not good after it starts.
While it’s running …open the radiator cap and look for bubbles. (blown head gasket)

Check the PTO and 3-point operations. Check 4WD ops. (Easy smooth shift into/out-of..? Grinding noises while slowly rolling and turning…?)..not good.
Check EACH GEAR (fwd and reverse) under load if possible (brakes can be applied for short periods to check brakes) but what you want to know is… does it “pop out” of any gear..? If so…expensive to repair. If not, and not loud whining… Good.

Hopefully this all helps.

Get a Bill of Sale with the Sellers Photo-I.D. attached.

You’ll love a M-Kubota, I promise. (Any chance it has the M1830 Loader?)

 
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LarryBud

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Dec 5, 2020
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Cleveland, MO
Thanks for the comprehensive replies!.

I spoke to the seller today. Claims it needs a shot of either to get going. That's a little unnerving.

it's a 2WD with no loader.
 

D2Cat

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When owner says ether required to start I pass! Too many potential problem already in place or about to become obvious!

GeoHorn posted this:
ASK WHAT TYPE/BRAND of HYDRAULIC fluid is in that tractor. “Traveller” Brand from TSC…? “303” or some other “generic” …?? or Seller doesn’t know…?? Then I’d be VERY cautious about this tractor. Either it has been “cheaped out” in maintenance… or the seller is ignorant/uncaring/deceptive or possibly all three.
Genuine Kubota fluids..?? Great! When was it last changed?

Read it with a grain of salt. A 1984 tractor that used the 303 hyd fluid he mentions is fine. That product is still offered today in 48 of the states. Only Mo. and Ga. had class action law suits for it's advertising. You can purchase on Amazon today! Newer tractors with wet brakes and hydro transmissions should use an updated fluid.

Also the chances of finding when and who a 1984 machine sold to is not going to happen at a dealer!! Unless your purchasing from the original owner..... it would take a miracle finding that info.
 
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JohnDB

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I spoke to the seller today. Claims it needs a shot of either to get going. That's a little unnerving.
I bet the operators manual prohibits using starting aids, and this forum has lots of evidence why that is so. IMHO with that information, the tractor is probably worth only scrap value. Unless you can get a good engine from somewhere (unlikely) and have the resources to swap it.
 

MountainMeadows

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If that dealer is using starting fluid to start diesel tractors, I'd look for another dealer.
 
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GeoHorn

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D2cat… wrong on both count. I actually refused two tractors based upon Dealer researc….. It was a simple pnone call and the local dealer bave me the full story on the tractor in question.

303 fluid is a KNOWN B.S. matter. Do the research!

Just sayin’….

.
 

NCL4701

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Even with it being a 1984 if it needs ether/starting fluid to start, I’d pass. If the dealer thinks, or tries to convince you, starting with ether is not a problem, I’d never do any business with them ever unless no other alternatives.
 
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D2Cat

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D2cat… wrong on both count. I actually refused two tractors based upon Dealer researc….. It was a simple pnone call and the local dealer bave me the full story on the tractor in question.

303 fluid is a KNOWN B.S. matter. Do the research!

Just sayin’….

.
GeoHorn, you always have a burr under your saddle! By your own statement, you refused to purchase two tractors because of dealers research.... a simple phone call and he (the dealer) gave you the full story on THE tractor in question. Was it one tractor or two? What was the year of the machines?

Ive done research on the fluid you love to talk about. We are not discussing anything other than will the 303 fluid destroy the '84 tractor!

It's currently available. Two states were involved in the class action suit, just as I said.
 

jyoutz

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GeoHorn, you always have a burr under your saddle! By your own statement, you refused to purchase two tractors because of dealers research.... a simple phone call and he (the dealer) gave you the full story on THE tractor in question. Was it one tractor or two? What was the year of the machines?

Ive done research on the fluid you love to talk about. We are not discussing anything other than will the 303 fluid destroy the '84 tractor!

It's currently available. Two states were involved in the class action suit, just as I said.
The 303 fluid is almost a moot point. A diesel that can only be started with either isn’t something worth considering.
 

007kubotaguy

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The M4050 was a nice machine. It used a 6 cylinder true Kubota engine. Other then being flat wore out no reason to be using starting fluid. At this point I would say the engine is junk. This machine also had a problem with the bushing coming out of the spider gears in the rear end. All the early units did it. Could be a money pit.
 

GeoHorn

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Kubota warns not to use ether in most Owners Manuals. (severe engine damage possible)

D2… “303” fluid was an early JD fluid and even JD declared it obsolete after 1974. The problem with the so-called “303” fluids which you are promoting “all over the market/available today” are junk. Respected members of this OTT Forum have discussed it many times and you can always simply “google” the term and figure out if it belongs in any Kubota tractor.



 

D2Cat

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Kubota warns not to use ether in most Owners Manuals. (severe engine damage possible)

D2… “303” fluid was an early JD fluid and even JD declared it obsolete after 1974. The problem with the so-called “303” fluids which you are promoting “all over the market/available today” are junk. Respected members of this OTT Forum have discussed it many times and you can always simply “google” the term and figure out if it belongs in any Kubota tractor.



How does one get engine damage from hydraulic fluid?

The reason is was discontinued in 1974 is because an ingredient in the oil was from the Sperm Whale which was officially protected that year. So JD modified their formula.

The 303 hyd. oil is labeled now to use in tractors pre 1975 because of the formulation change. The product used in later model tractors did not cause immediate problem, especially model years close to the 1975 cut off date. The class action law suit was in 2017, so many years of using the product didn't precipitate a major problem.

I have never suggested using the 303 in any modern Kubota tractor, however using this a geared machine will not significantly shorten the transmission life.

Geo, I have 17 gal. of 303 in a Case tractor and I am positive you will be gone from this earth WAY before that tractor has any transmission problems from this oil.
 

GeoHorn

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How does one get engine damage from hydraulic fluid?

The reason is was discontinued in 1974 is because an ingredient in the oil was from the Sperm Whale which was officially protected that year. So JD modified their formula.

The 303 hyd. oil is labeled now to use in tractors pre 1975 because of the formulation change. The product used in later model tractors did not cause immediate problem, especially model years close to the 1975 cut off date. The class action law suit was in 2017, so many years of using the product didn't precipitate a major problem.

I have never suggested using the 303 in any modern Kubota tractor, however using this a geared machine will not significantly shorten the transmission life.

Geo, I have 17 gal. of 303 in a Case tractor and I am positive you will be gone from this earth WAY before that tractor has any transmission problems from this oil.
I’ve never equated 303 with engine damage…. I (and many other experienced tractor owners) consider it questionable to use in ANY model year tractor hydraulic/transmission systems. SInce there is NO specification for what is in a pail of “303” fluid… Some packagers of that stuff use refinery back-wash and unknown components to create what THEY term “303”. It certainly does not meet the original specification …nor ANY specification for “303”….a spec that does not exist.
Use it at your own risk. (and now it’s evident why you are so defensive about it .… or perhaps you SELL that crap?)

Use of “303” is, to me, evidence of either ignorance of or lack of good maintenance-care….and would be a “minus mark” on the value of any tractor.