7 Common Massey Ferguson 231 Problems (Solutions Included)

So you’ve got an old Massey Ferguson 231 tractor that’s been acting up lately. These workhorses may be getting on in years, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to be put out to pasture just yet. With some TLC and DIY repair know-how, you can get your 231 back in working order and tackle jobs in no time.

Here, we’ll cover some of the Massey Ferguson 231 problems as well as how to fix them so that it can continue to serve its intended farming functions and be the best in the field.

Overview of Massey Ferguson 231

The Massey Ferguson 231 is a popular compact utility tractor that was manufactured from 1964 to 1975. This versatile workhorse is still used on small farms and homesteads today. As with any older equipment, the MF 231 can develop some common issues over time. Here are a few things to watch out for and how to remedy them.

Common Issues Faced in Massey Ferguson 231

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most common issues with the Massey Ferguson 231 and how to fix them yourself. We’ve got you covered, from engine problems to hydraulic leaks to electrical gremlins. While repairs and maintenance on older tractors can seem daunting, having a handy guide to the most likely culprits of strange sounds, smells, and loss of function means you can confidently approach each issue.

So grab your toolbox, fire up that 231, and let’s get troubleshooting. With a few tips, tricks, engine, and replacement parts, that familiar putter will be music to your ears again in no time. Your Massey Ferguson 231 has plenty of life left to live—you’ve just got to know how to keep it humming.

1) Airflow won’t Start

If your Massey Ferguson 231 doesn’t start, don’t panic. There are a few common Massey Ferguson tractor problems that are easy to fix yourself.

First, check your fuel. Make sure you have at least a quarter tank of fresh diesel fuel. Old or contaminated fuel is the number-one reason for hard starts. If it’s been sitting for a while, drain the tank and lines and refill with new fuel.

Next, check your battery. A weak or dead battery won’t provide enough power to turn the engine over. Use a multimeter to check that it’s putting out at least 12 volts. If it’s low, charge it up or replace it.

Then, check your air filter. A clogged air filter reduces the engine’s performance, making it difficult to start. Remove the air filter and see if the engine starts. If so, replace the filter.

Also, check your glow plugs. Glow plugs heat the combustion chamber to help start a cold diesel engine. If the glow plug light doesn’t come on or stays on while cranking, you may have a bad glow plug or relay. Have the system tested by a mechanic.

Finally, it could be a faulty sensor, like the fuel shutoff solenoid, crank position sensor, or starter relay. Again, have a mechanic test the starting and charging systems to diagnose and replace any faulty parts.

You can quickly fix your Massey’s problems with basic troubleshooting. Call a service expert right away for assistance if all else fails. They can get your faithful farm companion back out in the field, where it belongs.

2) Excessive Fuel Consumption

If your Massey Ferguson 231 seems to be guzzling fuel like there’s no tomorrow, don’t panic – there are a few things you can check before calling the mechanic.

Initially, check to see if your air filter is clean. Replace the air filter every 3–6 months or if it looks dirty.

Next, check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 PSI drop in pressure in all four tires. Keep your tires inflated to the recommended PSI listed in the owner’s manual.

Another culprit could be a faulty oxygen sensor. The O2 sensor helps regulate the air-fuel mixture, and if it’s malfunctioning, it may be sending the wrong signals to your engine computer, causing it to use more fuel than necessary. Have the O2 sensor tested to check if it needs replacement,

Also, make sure you’re not hauling around unnecessary weight in the vehicle. Extra weight reduces your gas mileage, so clear out any items you don’t need and avoid excessive idling.

If you’ve checked for all these potential issues and your Massey Ferguson is still not delivering the fuel economy it should, it’s best to have it looked over by a certified mechanic. They can perform diagnostic tests to determine if there are any other problems with sensors, injectors, or engine performance and get your tractor back to peak efficiency.

3) Loss of Power

A loss of power in your Massey Ferguson 231 can be frustrating, but the good news is there are a few common issues you can check yourself before calling a mechanic.

Fuel filter

If your 231 seems sluggish or struggles under load, the fuel filter is a likely culprit. This filter removes contaminants from the fuel before it enters the engine. Over time, it can become clogged, restricting fuel flow. Replace the fuel filter—it’s an easy DIY job that should take less than 30 minutes. New filters are inexpensive and available at most auto parts stores.

Air filter

A dirty air filter reduces the amount of air entering the engine, reducing power. Check your 231’s air filter—replace it if it looks dirty or clogged. Like the fuel filter, air filters are easy to replace and cheap to buy.

Valve clearance

Over time, the valves in the engine can become misaligned or “out of spec,” reducing performance. Have a mechanic check and adjust the valve clearance, also known as a valve lash adjustment. This tune-up procedure requires specialized tools and knowledge but can help restore lost power.

Fuel injectors

The fuel injectors may need servicing if the other fixes don’t help. As they age, fuel injectors can become clogged or stuck open/closed, disrupting the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders. A mechanic can test the injectors and perform a professional cleaning or replacement if needed. Fuel injector issues tend to be more expensive to fix but are important for optimal engine performance.

By checking the simple things first, you may be able to resolve a loss of power in your Massey Ferguson 231 yourself. But don’t hesitate to have a trusted mechanic evaluate your tractor for the more complex possibilities. Proper maintenance and repair will help keep your 231 running strong for years to come.

4) Hydraulic system malfunctioning

The hydraulic system is crucial for operating your Massey Ferguson 231 tractor. If you notice the hydraulics acting up, diagnosing and fixing the issue promptly is important.

Leaking hoses or cylinders

Over time, the hydraulic hoses and cylinders can start to leak fluid. Check under the tractor for any pools of red hydraulic fluid. If you spot a leak, the hose or cylinder seal will need to be replaced. It’s best to have a mechanic handle hydraulic repairs to ensure the system is functioning properly after fixing the leak.

Air in the system

If the hydraulics seem slow or unresponsive, there may be air trapped in the system. To bleed the air, start the tractor and let it run for a few minutes. Then, activate and hold the control lever to extend the cylinder you want to bleed. Have an assistant loosen the bleeder valve on the cylinder to release any air. Once hydraulic fluid starts to seep out, close the valve. Repeat with any other cylinders that seem to be malfunctioning.

Faulty control valve

The hydraulic control valve directs fluid flow to the various cylinders. If the hydraulics don’t seem to be working at all or certain cylinders aren’t functioning, the control valve may need to be repaired or replaced. This is a complex repair best left to a certified Massey Ferguson mechanic.

Low fluid level

The hydraulic fluid level may be low if the hydraulics seem underpowered or sluggish. Check the sight glass on the side of the hydraulic fluid reservoir. Refill with approved hydraulic fluid for your Massey Ferguson model to the appropriate level. This should restore full function to the hydraulic system.

By inspecting the various parts of your Massey Ferguson 40-amp hydraulic system, you can likely determine the cause of any malfunctions and either fix minor issues yourself or get the necessary repairs done by a mechanic. With regular maintenance, you can keep the hydraulics working well for years to come.

5) Differential Lock not Engaging

The differential lock on your Massey Ferguson 231 is designed to provide extra traction in muddy or slippery conditions by locking the rear axles together. If the differential lock is not engaging when you activate the switch, there are a few things you can check.

Check the Fuse

The first thing to inspect is the fuse for the differential lock. The fuse box on a Massey 231 is located under the dash on the driver’s side. Check your owner’s manual for the specific fuse that controls the differential lock—it’s typically a 30 or fuse. If the fuse is blown, replace it and try the differential lock switch again. If it still does not engage, proceed to the next step.

Inspect the Solenoid

The differential lock solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that will engage the lock. The solenoid is usually located on the rear axle housing. Check that the solenoid is securely plugged in, with no visible damage to the wiring or connector. If the wiring looks intact, the solenoid may need replacing. This is an easy fix for a mechanic to perform.

Check the Actuator

The differential lock actuator is the part that physically locks the axles together. The actuator may need to be manually engaged for testing. 

  • Try cycling the differential lock switch multiple times to ensure there are no temporary issues preventing engagement.
  • Check that the rear axle breather tube is clear and not clogged, which could also prevent the lock from activating.
  • As a last resort, you may need to have the entire differential lock system electronically tested to check for any breaks in the circuit.

With some troubleshooting, you should be able to get your Massey 231’s differential lock re-engaging again, allowing you to get unstuck from those tricky situations. 

6) Engine Problems

The Perkins 3-cylinder diesel engine powering the MF 231 is durable but may eventually need some TLC. If the engine is running rough, blowing smoke, or losing power, checking the fuel injectors is a good idea. Over time, they can become clogged or malfunction. Replacing the injectors often fixes the problem and restores engine performance. You should also replace the fuel filter every season to prevent contaminants from entering the injectors.

Other potential engine issues include:

  • Faulty glow plugs: needed to start the engine in cold weather. Replace it if the engine is hard to start.
  • Bad alternator or voltage regulator: This can cause the battery to drain and the engine to stall. Have the charging system tested, repaired, or replaced.
  • Head gasket leak: to lead to overheating, oil in the coolant, or coolant in the oil. Requires head gasket replacement to fix.

7) Hydraulic Problems

The Massey Ferguson hydrostatic steering transmission, PTO, lift arms, and implements. If there is a hydraulics issue, have a mechanic examine the system to identify the root of the issue. 
 Rebuilding or replacing hydraulic components often returns the system to full working order.

With periodic maintenance and TLC, a Massey Ferguson 231 tractor can provide many years of reliable service. Addressing issues early on will help avoid costly repairs down the road and keep this compact workhorse in tip-top shape.


So there you have it, the most common issues with the Massey Ferguson 231 and how to get your tractor back up and running. These older tractors were built to last, but even the most reliable machines need some TLC now and then.

With regular maintenance and catching problems early, your 231 should provide many more years of faithful service. If any issue arises, consult the owner’s manual. And when all else fails, you can always take it to your local tractor mechanic.

They’re familiar with classics like the 231 and can get parts that may be hard to find elsewhere. Stay on top of things and keep your 231 happy – it will keep you happy in return!


What manufacturer’s engine powers a Massey Ferguson tractor?

Iseki engines are installed in Massey Ferguson tractors. Tractor-only, tractor-loader-backhoe, or tractor-plus-loader versions of Iseki engines are all readily accessible.

Which is better, John Deere or Massey?

America’s preferred tractor manufacturer is John Deere Corporation. But a lot of people think Massey Ferguson makes the best tractors.

A Massey Ferguson 231S has how much horsepower?

It has a 3-cylinder, 45-horsepower Perkins diesel engine, and models of it weigh 4120 pounds.

What Massey Ferguson is the strongest?

The 400-horsepower MF 8737 is Massey Ferguson’s most potent tractor ever.

For more tractor problems and fixes visit here and for more guides related to mowers visit Mowers Guide

Share post on
Urooj Ashfaq
By Urooj Ashfaq

Hey there! I'm Urooj Ashfaq, your friendly lawn care guru at Mowers Guide. With a passion for beautiful lawns, I bring years of experience and expertise to help you master the art of lawn mowing and tractor maintenance. At Mowers Guide, I provide easy-to-understand guides, unbiased reviews, and trustworthy information to ensure a top-notch user experience.

Mowers Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

6 Common Case TR270 Problems With Effective Solutions Tractor Problems & Fixes

6 Common Case TR270 Problems With Effective Solutions

If you've invested in a Case TR270 versatile track loader, think you'll get years...

By Urooj Ashfaq
7 Common Kubota L4760 Problems and Effective Solutions Tractor Problems & Fixes

7 Common Kubota L4760 Problems and Effective Solutions

Have you ever been in the middle of a heavy-duty job with your trusty...

By Urooj Ashfaq
5 Common Case TV380 Problems and Effective Solutions Tractor Problems & Fixes

5 Common Case TV380 Problems and Effective Solutions

You wheel your Case TV380 out of the garage and turn the key, but...

By Urooj Ashfaq
4 Ford 1710 Tractor Problems And Solutions Tractor Problems & Fixes

4 Ford 1710 Tractor Problems And Solutions

Have you been having issues with your trusty old Ford 1710 tractor lately? As...

By Urooj Ashfaq
5 Common Kubota L6060 Problems (Solutions Included) Tractor Problems & Fixes

5 Common Kubota L6060 Problems (Solutions Included)

If you’re having some issues with your trusty L6060 tractor? These popular compact tractors...

By Urooj Ashfaq

Latest Posts

How Much Gas Does A Lawn Mower Use? Mower Reviews

How Much Gas Does A Lawn Mower Use?

Ever wonder just how much gas your lawn mower uses as you work to...

By Urooj Ashfaq
Craftsman vs John Deere Riding Mower: Which One is Best? Mower Reviews

Craftsman vs John Deere Riding Mower: Which One is Best?

Lawnmowers are designed to fundamentally perform the same function, yet many different aspects influence...

By Urooj Ashfaq
Husqvarna Mower Oil Type (Which Type to Choose) Mower Reviews

Husqvarna Mower Oil Type (Which Type to Choose)

You finally invested in that Husqvarna riding mower you’ve had your eye on for...

By Urooj Ashfaq
Can a Lawn mower Be Left in the Rain? Mower Reviews

Can a Lawn mower Be Left in the Rain?

So you want to know if your trusty lawn mower can handle a little...

By Urooj Ashfaq
6 Common Bobcat S590 Problems With Effective Solutions Outdoor Problems

6 Common Bobcat S590 Problems With Effective Solutions

You love your Bobcat S590 skid-steer loader. This rugged, powerful machine helps you use...

By Urooj Ashfaq
6 Common Case TR270 Problems With Effective Solutions Tractor Problems & Fixes

6 Common Case TR270 Problems With Effective Solutions

If you've invested in a Case TR270 versatile track loader, think you'll get years...

By Urooj Ashfaq
15 Common 2016 Yamaha Wolverine Problems with Solutions Outdoor Problems

15 Common 2016 Yamaha Wolverine Problems with Solutions

Ever wonder why your 2016 Yamaha Wolverine UTV is acting up? Don't worry; you're...

By Urooj Ashfaq
7 Common John Deere RSX 850I Problems with Solutions Outdoor Problems

7 Common John Deere RSX 850I Problems with Solutions

As you fire up your trusty John Deere Gator RSX 850i off-road vehicle for...

By Urooj Ashfaq