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The third in a series of four blog posts on the risks and consequences of farm equipment chipping, from the Western Equipment Dealers Association.

The crops are ready, the sky is blue, the crew is there, and you’re ready to harvest. Each hour you’re out there brings you closer to the payday you’ve worked for all growing season.

On this day, however, something goes badly wrong – some kind of engine trouble on your combine. The entire operation grinds to a halt and you go searching for a solution.

Normally, it’s a straightforward problem. You call your local dealership and ask for a service call. Because you’re still under warranty, you’ll get this service – priceless, under the circumstances – for no cost.

When the service technician arrives, there’s a further issue. Because the combine’s operating software has been chipped (or tuned), the technician can’t service it. At this point, the options are all bad.

Harvest can’t resume until the combine is serviced. The combine can’t be serviced by the dealer until the person who did the chipping restores the original settings. You bring the combine to the dealer’s service department and eventually, the chipper arrives and restores the settings. More bad news: chipping the combine’s operating software has voided the warranty, so you the farmer are on the hook for the cost of the repair.

With more and more farm equipment being chipped, scenarios like this play out all the time. Kevin Rossler, Sales Manager for Markusson New Holland Ag near Regina, recalls a similar situation with a tractor. When a Markusson technician arrived at the customer’s field, he couldn’t get hooked up to the tractor’s system. The customer acknowledged that he’d had the tractor custom-tuned.

“Unfortunately, we had to walk away from it,” says Rossler. “That operation was down for days because he had to get the guy who tuned it back to troubleshoot it. Let’s face it, a lot of these fellows putting custom tunes on agriculture equipment are not qualified technicians.”

During make-or-break field operations, every hour counts. That’s when money spent to chip equipment beyond its original operating capacity – to increase horsepower, torque or groundspeed — turns out to be a poor investment. The advice from Rossler and WEDA is to safeguard your equipment’s warranty and serviceability by keeping its original operating software exactly as the engineers intended.