5 Reasons Why Bobcat Tractor Isn’t Starting & How to Fix It


The Bobcat tractor is a great vehicle choice for your farming needs. It comes with many benefits including the useful functionality of skid steering. But one problem that you often face is the occasional case of the tractor getting stuck in the ignition. 

There are several reasons why the Bobcat tractor you are using is not starting, including an overheating engine and an empty fuel tank. Other reasons might be that the air is stuck in fuel lines or maybe you have contaminated fuel. 

It’s a very annoying problem to face, so we prepared this article with some common problems that cause the issue and relevant solutions for those problems. 

Why Won’t Your Bobcat Tractor Start? 

Why Won't Your Bobcat Tractor Start

The Bobcat Tractor experiences a lot of the same types of problems as other tractors. When it comes to not starting, the causes also tend to be very similar. 

Here are some of the most common reasons why your Bobcat is getting stuck in the ignition. 

  • Contaminated fuel 
  • Air stuck in fuel lines 
  • Failed glow plugs 
  • Engine Overheating 
  • Cold outdoor temperature 

5 Solutions For Bobcat Tractor Isn’t Starting

Above we mentioned 5 common issues and causes for the Bobcat tractor not starting. If you want to know how to get these problems resolved, then keep reading below. 

1. Contaminated fuel: Flush out the fuel and refill the tank 

Flush out the fuel and refill the tank 

One of the common causes of the Bobcat tractor not starting is the presence of contaminated fuel in the fuel tank of the tractor. Fuel contamination can be seen in 3 different forms: 

  1. Water contamination: Water contamination causes iron and steel components to rust and clogs up the fuel filter.  
  2. Inorganic debris: Sand, dirt and dust particles can also contaminate the fuel. This again causes the fuel filter to clog up. 
  3. Organic debris: Microbes and bacteria from water can cause fungi to grow. This usually happens as the fuel ages and allows the bacteria to become more prominent. 

In the case of contamination, you need to first flush out the contaminated fuel. Once the fuel is flushed out, refill it with fresh fuel. 

The only cost associated with this problem involved purchasing fuel. The cost of gasoline per liter for a Bobcat tractor is between $2 to $4. 

2. Air In Fuel Lines: Bleed out the excess air 

Bleed out the excess air 

Another problem that prevents Bobcat tractors from starting is air getting stuck in fuel lines. This is common in diesel engines which require fuel, air and pressure/heat. 

The presence of excess air prevents proper pressurizing. The solution is to bleed the air out of the line

  1. Start by turning off the fuel valve. 
  2. Then proceed by cleaning the external part of the fuel filter. 
  3. Insert new fuel element with the addition of oil to make the seal properly secure. 
  4. Open up the bleed plug near the fuel tank. 
  5. Have the fuel supply valve fully open, to allow fuel movement through the system. 
  6. Locate the fuel primer pump
  7. Pump the fuel primer pump for 5-12 minutes. 
  8. If bubbles stop coming out of the bleed plug, it’s a sign that the air has been pumped out fully. 
  9. Close the bleed plug and repeat the same process with the other bleed plugs. 
  10. Once all the bleed plugs are done bleeding out the air and the plugs are secured tight, try to give the engine a starter. 
  11. Repeat the entire process if the engine doesn’t start even after all that. 

The solution does not require any cost since it’s a complete DIY process. 

3. Failed Glow plugs: Replace/get new glow plugs 

Replace/get new glow plugs 

You can have up to 10 glow plugs in your Bobcat tractor engine. One glow plug failing usually doesn’t make much noticeable difference. But add a few more to the failed list, and you will find your engine is not starting as smoothly. 

Do the following to check the state of your glow plugs. 

  1. First, make sure the glow plugs are attached to the engine. 
  2. Detach the wires connected to each of the glow plugs. 
  3. Have a test light connected to the positive terminal and test it. 
  4. Leave the glow plugs installed in the engine
  5. Have the touch light touch each glow plug wire. 
  6. The plugs are good and well if you find the test light glowing. Otherwise, you have to change the glow plugs, unfortunately. 

So the solution here is to buy new glow plugs. That would cost you between $10-20 for each plug. 

4. Engine Overheating: Check coolant amount and clean the radiator fins 

Check coolant amount and clean the radiator fins 

There are several reasons why the engine in a Bobcat tractor gets overheated, including the lack of adequate coolants, the presence of dust and dirt on the radiator fins or a malfunctioning thermometer. 

  1. You need to first confirm the source of overheating. If it is a lack of coolant, then you can just simply have the radiator filled up with adequate coolant. 
  2. In case of dirty/clogged up radiator fins, you need to get it cleaned. Use an air compressor to get the radiator fins cleaned up. 
  3. Check to see if the thermometer is functioning properly. Do it regularly. If the thermometer is not working, then you need to get it replaced. 

In the case of a coolant shortage, you need to buy new coolant which can cost between $3 and $12. The air compressors will cost a bit more, between $40 and $120. 

A tractor thermometer is much less expensive, about $2-$5. 

5. Cold Outdoor Temperature: Use winterized oil

Use winterized oil

Cold temperatures are not good for Bobcat tractor engines. With a cold temperature, you have to deal with several problems including negative effects on the oil, gas, wires and other parts. 

  1. Cold temperature causes oil to thicken resulting in drag and affecting the pressurization process. In this case, replace the oil with winterized oil. 
  2. Batteries will also be affected. Make sure to give the batteries a jumpstart before you start the engine. 
  3. Wax crystals also form on the separator for water and fuel. To resolve this, you will have to take the tractor to a warm garage where the heat will make the crystals dissolve. 

If you change the oil, you will have to spend around $2-5 per liter.

FAQs About Bobcat Tractor Not Starting Issue

We have gone through in detail some of the most common reasons Bobcat tractors often get stuck in the ignition. Now we look at some of the most Frequently Asked Questions on this matter. 

Why Does My Bobcat Tractor Crank Not Start? 

There are several reasons why the Bobcat Tractor cranks but doesn’t start. One reason could be that you are trying to start it at a cold temperature or maybe your fuel tank is empty. It’s also possible that air might be stuck in the fuel lines or the fuel may have undergone contamination. 

How To Fix My Bobcat Tractor If It Does Not Start? 

Firstly you need to identify the main cause of the Bobcat tractor. We have laid out all the relevant solutions in this article in response to the specific type of causes and issues. So we advise you to go through the article to see the solutions that match your problems. 

How To Get Rid Of Excess Air Getting Into The Bobcat Tractor Fuel Lines? 

To get rid of excess air, you have to prime the fuel pump and get the air pumped out. For more detail, read our answer in the relevant section that we provided in the article above. 

What do I do if the Bobcat tractor is not starting in cold weather? 

We advise you to keep the tractor in a warm garage so that the oil does not thicken. Otherwise, use winterised fuel as that will do better in the cold weather. 


Always make sure to have a good look at your Bobcat and figure out where the problem originated from. Also, make sure that you check the manual for the specific Bobcat model that you have as you might find the exact answer that you’re looking for. 

We would also advise you to consult a professional in case you feel out of depth with your problems. 

We understand how irritating it can be when you are about to start your Bobcat tractor and it’s not starting. We hope the information we provided here has been helpful for you. 

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