First of all, if you know your machine make and model number, we are already off to a great start. You may be wondering how someone would own a machine and not know that. Keep in mind that a lot of tractors, backhoes, dozers, and excavators we offer pats for are often times decades old. Some of them have been passed down, inherited, sold several times, or the owner just plain forgot once the decals and paint faded that information away. But you have your model number, and you’re still being asked for your machine serial number when you call. The reason is simple. The make and model number are all you need to find a lot of parts for your machine, but for a lot of parts, we need more specific information. Before we get into exactly what that number tells us, I’ll answer the the first question I get 90% of the time I ask for a customer’s serial number:
I would love to have a one-sized-fits-all answer for you, but I don’t. The one element that is most common is what the serial number is printed on: a “business card sized” thin metal tag, usually attached to the machine with rivets or an adhesive. That is usually WHAT you are looking for, but your question is WHERE to find it.
Thankfully, our sales staff has access to software that will usually show them exactly where you need to look. If you have a Case, Ford, International Harvester, John Deere tractor or heavy machinery manufactured before 2010, we should be able to direct you to the serial number tag location using that software. However, if this is not the case, there are a few common locations to check first.
– On the dash, or cowling around the steering wheel or gauge cluster for tractors
– On the bottom of the side of the cab nearest the boom for excavators that swivel
– On the lift-arms or lift-frame for loaders, skid steers, and some backhoes
– Stamped onto the fuel or hydraulic tanks on some dozers and backhoes
Just as important for you to know where to start looking is where NOT to look:
– On the side of the engine, transmission, or rear-end housing of any machine
– On a pump or hydraulic motor (injection pump, hydraulic pump, skid steer motor, carburetor, etc…)
– On the final drive housing for excavators, trackhoes, dozers, etc….
There are likely more than a couple “business-card shaped” tags on your machine, and we don’t want you to make a trip out to it just to find out that you have only found your engine, transmission, or axle serial number, or your hydraulic motor or injection pump tag, and NOT your machine serial number. Those numbers are VERY important when identifying those specific components, but they aren’t the numbers you need right now.
As I’ve stated before, your make and model number does not tell us everything we need to know to find you the correct parts. Again, there is a pretty simple reason. Manufacturers don’t want to roll out a new model number every time they make a change to a machine. For example, Ford 555A and B series backhoes have high stall OR low stall torque converters depending on when the machine was made. Ford doesn’t stamp the production date anywhere on the machine, but the machine serial number can tell us when your machine rolled off the line. It is imperative that we know that because if you replace a low-stall torque converter with a high-stall, you will at best ruin your transmission. In this case, there are also markings on the actual housing, but in over seven years of personally selling dozens of those torque converters, I only came across a couple of them that still had legible markings. Our sales staff will make sure they have all of the information they need to keep you from ordering the wrong part, and our website will alert you in the product description as well.
The problem with small and thin metal tags on tractors and heavy machinery is that they don’t always stay put. A lot of times, if they do stay put, they’re painted over, gouged by tree limbs, or worn away by time or a previous owner using a little too much elbow grease trying to clean it up with a wire brush. Thankfully, most manufacturers stamp the serial number on the main frame of backhoes, dozers, and especially excavators. If you strike out there, we will do our absolute best to find you the correct part by taking measurements, analyzing photos you email or text to us, and putting every available resource to use. In rare cases, when we both don’t know the machine serial number, we’ll arrange with our customer ahead of time to split the shipping if it doesn’t fit, but we don’t like to pay for extra shipping just as much as you do, so we will do everything we can to match the part before the sale.