What Is PTO On A Tractor

PTO is a term that most people are familiar with, but not everyone understands what it is or how to use it on a tractor.

The process of transferring energy from one source to another is referred to as “power take-off.” It’s a device that transfers power from a tractor’s engine to a machine or implements without its own engine.

To operate a PTO, you must first activate it and link it to a PTO-driven implement.

For transmitting sufficient power to PTO-driven machinery, PTOs come with a variety of capacities. Here is everything you should know about PTO’s and tractors.

What Is PTO On A Tractor

What Is PTO On A Tractor?

The PTO is a system that transfers power from a tractor’s engine to an implement or machine that does not have an engine.

Without the PTO, farmers can’t use the tractor’s power to power tools like harvesters, mowers, and other implements that don’t have their own engines. PTO is found in utility tractors, row crop tractors, compact tractors, and other tractors.

Tractors with PTO have been on the market since 1918 when the International Harvester Company incorporated PTO to select production tractors. The PTO soon became a sought-after feature once it was introduced in many tractor models after 1918.

PTO’s connected implements directly to the tractor’s transmission on older tractor models, however, this exposed the transmission to further damage, especially when high-momentum implements were mounted to the PTO.

Modern PTOs are designed to protect the transmission from harm even when sending energy to high-momentum tools. These newer PTOs have standardised structures for the benefit of safety and universal compatibility.

A conventional utility tractor’s PTO includes a telescopic driveshaft, a yoke at the tractor, and a yoke at the implement. You may not be able to view some of the PTO pieces if a power take-off shield is placed for safety reasons.

PTO Types On Tractors

Almost all modern tractors have a PTO. It’s rare to come across a tractor without one. Even compact tractors, despite their small size, have PTOs.

It’s important to understand that PTOs’ capacity to run for an extended period varies.

Some people can run for up to 10 hours a day, while others can only run for 10 minutes a week. Before using a PTO, it’s a good idea to double-check the rated power output and running time.

Transmission PTO

A transmission PTO is a device that attaches directly to a tractor’s transmission. This type of PTO can only send power to the attached equipment when it is engaged.

The transmission PTO is the simplest type of PTO, but its simplicity might cause problems if you try to drive a high-momentum implement with it.

Because the PTO is directly attached to the transmission, if the related implement drives the tractor’s transmission, it can put a lot of strain on it.

Tractors with built-in overrunning clutches, on the other hand, have a much lower chance of experiencing this problem.

Overrunning clutches disengage the PTO shaft from the driven shaft when the driven shaft rotates faster than the PTO shaft, safeguarding the transmission.

Independent PTO

This PTO has its own clutch, so you don’t have to engage the gear to engage the PTO.

This type of PTO is unaffected by the tractor’s other features. The operator can engage or disengage the PTO while the tractor is driving or stationary.

There are two types of independent PTOs. They are hydraulic-independent PTO and mechanical-independent PTO. On both types, the PTO is engaged and disengaged through an electrical switch.

In contrast, the mechanically independent has a lever clutch in addition to the electrical switch. The mechanical-independent lever ensures that the PTO is not accidentally engaged.

Because the PTO is unaffected by the location of the gears, an operator can change gears while the PTO is running.

Although independent PTO protects the tractor’s transmission from damage caused by excessive PTO shaft spinning, if the operator activates the PTO while the tractor is operating at full speed, the transmission can still be damaged.

Independent PTOs are suited for continuous operation and often have a high output power.

If operators utilize the PTO correctly, it can last for several years without developing a problem or causing damage to any tractor or associated implement component.

Live PTO

Live PTO can send power to tools even when the gear is not engaged.

Unlike transmission PTO, live PTO has its own clutch that engages and disengages the PTO. An operator can change gears or stop the tractor while the PTO is operational since it has a two-stage clutch.

Although the live PTO has its own clutch, it cannot be activated unless the tractor comes to a complete stop.

However, once the PTO is engaged, it is fully independent of the tractor’s motion.

One advantage of a live PTO over a transmission PTO is that it protects both the tractor’s gearbox and the PTO from damage caused by high running speeds.

Reverse PTO

All of the PTO types mentioned above can only rotate in one direction, though they can be modified to rotate in the opposite direction if needed.

When the PTO is sending power to certain types of implements, one-way rotation isn’t an issue, but it might cause problems when the PTO is transmitting energy to implements that can become stuck.

This type of difficulty can be resolved by changing the rotating direction of the associated tool.

A PTO that can rotate in both directions is known as a reverse PTO. If using this PTO, keep in mind that while turning in the opposite direction, PTOs cannot resist substantial torsional forces.

As a result, the orientation of a PTO should only be reversed when absolutely necessary, and it should not be allowed to rotate backward for a short time.


When choosing what PTO to include on your tractor, you should consider what attachments you want to power, as well as what types of jobs you will be using your tractor for.

Before engaging a live or transmission PTO, ensure that your tractor’s transmission is in neutral and the parking brake is engaged. If your tractor has an independent PTO, you can keep going without stopping it, but be sure it isn’t operating at full speed.

Ryan Genkin
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