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Discussion Starter #1
How much damage could I cause by running low on hydraulic fluid on a Deere garden tractor? When I checked the hydraulic fluid level it didn't even show on the dipstick (I'm talking about the dipstick that shows the fluid level, not the poster of this thread).
 

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I wouldn't run it. If its not in the glass, put some in until it shows. Hydraulic fluid doesn't slowly dissipate, or burn away like motor oil. If its low, there's a leak somewhere
 

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How much damage could I cause by running low on hydraulic fluid on a Deere garden tractor? When I checked the hydraulic fluid level it didn't even show on the dipstick (I'm talking about the dipstick that shows the fluid level, not the poster of this thread).
What model tractor do you have?
 
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If me I would want to know how low it was and use something to see how far it is from reading on the dip stick. Us a longer rod and see how far it dropped. Also make sure you are level and sat a while still. I know on my 4044M I check it cold and sitting on my concrete pad same place each time. It makes a difference on mine big time not level. Haven't used any in over 450 hours tired of checking it. Now I just look for leaks instead.
 

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If me I would want to know how low it was and use something to see how far it is from reading on the dip stick. Us a longer rod and see how far it dropped. Also make sure you are level and sat a while still. I know on my 4044M I check it cold and sitting on my concrete pad same place each time. It makes a difference on mine big time not level. Haven't used any in over 450 hours tired of checking it. Now I just look for leaks instead.
Agree... it will help once we know what type of tractor. Hydraulic fluid doesn't typically suddenly disappear unless there is a massive leak. On a lot of tractors there is still quite a bit in the sump even when it doesn't show up on the dipstick.
 

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Agree... it will help once we know what type of tractor. Hydraulic fluid doesn't typically suddenly disappear unless there is a massive leak. On a lot of tractors there is still quite a bit in the sump even when it doesn't show up on the dipstick.
My sump is long and if not level a inch or so off it reads high or low on the tiny dip stick. I would not be too worried if it was a bigger tractor and just low cause there is a lot of Gallons in mine!

Re/read the post did you check the fluid level after something did not work right or just because you wanted to do it? Makes a big difference in what could be wrong or not wrong. Paul Harvey said stay tuned for the rest of the story.
 

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To answer Bob's question, "How much damage," is relatively simple: None to catastrophic!

Not knowing the specifics of the tractor, I'm gonna assume a hydrostatic drive and just generalize. When the engine is running, it's driving a pump, or usually two. These pumps have moving parts and require lubrication...oil, hydraulic oil to be specific. A sump has much more oil in it than is actually needed to operate. This is for cooling purposes...as the pumps & cylinders operate they heat the oil...and to maintain a sufficient level to operate on uneven terrain.

Low oil or no oil on dipstick: READ YOUR MANUAL. I've got a 322 which has a site tube rather than a dipstick. If I look at my sight tube while running or 2 or 3 minutes after shutting down, NO OIL! Ten minutes later, my level is fine...READ YOUR MANUAL!!

OK bottom line: Bob, only you can determine if damage has been done. Bring oil level to specs in MANUAL, start tractor and listen. You may hear some "funny noises" just after starting...depending on HOW low the oil level was..or you may not. Listen for any "whining" or "screeching/scraping" sounds in the hydro area. If everything sounds normal, you'll be fine. If not, YUK! Either back to dealer or pull hydro apart and replace $$$ parts. Bob
 

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The amount of damage caused would be dependent as to how long you operated it while it was too low.
Best case scenario is,you ran it a little low and one or more functions would either cease to work or, work sluggishly. Worst case scenario might be, its so low the drive system stopped working and you kept it running for half an hour while still operating a function that did work. The hydraulic fluid is not only a mechanism for creating movement, it also cools the pump during its operation.
So, theres no real way to tell what damage was caused until its topped off and you start using it.

But as has already been said.....hydraulic fluid has zero evaporation thus, it had to have gone somewhere. I'd be looking for some sort of leakage because, its wet somewhere along your machine.
 

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I tore my Hydraulic Hose off my Steering Ram on the front end with my tire chain once. Man that stuff comes out fast when you spin the wheel and wonder why it just turns? I was in my driveway when it happen. Figured I blew out 1/2 gallon real fast till I saw it. It was still on the dip stick and I topped it off when I replaced the hose. So it can go empty fast if it is a big leak and real slow if tiny but it will be wet somewhere. Don't panic you did not say anything stopped working just checked it and it was low. Top it off like others said and listen to it run then use it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The low hydraulic fluid is on a x758.

Last year when I installed a front PTO shaft, I added hydraulic fluid to the proper level on the dipstick. There are no leaks. Could the fluid be drawn down because I have attached a few different implements (snow blower, FEL, rotary broom) to the x758? Did those attachments 'intake' the fluid from the garden tractor?
 

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The low hydraulic fluid is on a x758.

Last year when I installed a front PTO shaft, I added hydraulic fluid to the proper level on the dipstick. There are no leaks. Could the fluid be drawn down because I have attached a few different implements (snow blower, FEL, rotary broom) to the x758? Did those attachments 'intake' the fluid from the garden tractor?
The transmission and hydraulics all use a common sump. Any NEW implement with a hydraulic cylinder that you attach will consume some fluid when first attached. Even if you collapse the cylinder before removing the implement some fluid will still be retained in the cylinder and hoses.

I assume the snow blower and broom both used the same front Quick Hitch which has two hydraulic cylinders. The snow blower will have a cylinder for chute rotation. And of course a loader will have two boom and two bucket cylinders.

If you are swapping multiple hydraulic implements you have to be a bit careful with the fluid level. Example, if you attach the loader and then fill the reservoir back up you run the risk of being over filled when you collapse any of the cylinders. It can take a bit of experimenting to reach a happy medium on fluid level when using multiple hydraulic attachments.

If you did not check your fluid after adding each of these implements I would say you found the reason for your low fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I had to add 1.2 quarts of hydraulic fluid to the x758. I think the capacity is 6.2 quarts.
I sure hope I didn't ruin much by running it low for a mowing season.
 

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You probably didn't hurt anything being a quart low. When you checked the fluid was the tractor cold and it had been sitting a while? If you check it hot then often times the fluid will read low.

If it was low the biggest concern is any damage to the pump. If everything works fine and the performance has not changed then you are most likely just fine. I would monitor the fluid level pretty close to make sure it's not going some place. Often times JD ships these things with low fluid.
 

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Seems like a large amount to be added..

You are checking the fluid level ,,,,,, 30 mins or longer after you turned off the engine.

Yes adding new attachments that have long hyd hoses will require more fluid .
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I always check the hydraulic fluid when the machine is cold. Before installing the hydraulic attachment, I checked the fluid level and it was full. After installing the attachment, I added a bit of fluid (about 0.5 quart). My guess is that I didn't run the attachment cylinder full open and close so the tractor's reservoir didn't get as low as it should have.
 

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Dipstick oddities

Our Kubota is very sensitive to being level when checking the hydraulic fluid. A slight grade will throw it off substantially.

On the other hand, our IH784 will show a low level when you first pull the dipstick. You have to reinsert and slightly spin the dipstick to get a reading. The tube is pretty small and must seal tight enough to hold the fluid level down.

I don't know why hydraulic fluid is more sensitive but IMHO it's harder to get an accurate reading than plain old motor oil.

Treefarmer
 
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