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What To Look Out For When Buying A Used Tractor

What To Look Out For When Buying A Used Tractor

When it comes to buying a tractor, going used can be a risky business. But it doesn’t have to be. By learning what to look for, you can lower your chances of buying a worn-out tractor and increase the likelihood that you’ll end up purchasing a quality used tractor.

Here are some of the factors you should keep in mind when browsing used tractors:

Tractor Model

Unlike buying a car, it’s vital that you find out what make of farm equipment you’re dealing with before making any purchases. Every manufacturer uses a different tractor design, which can be a headache when it comes to sourcing parts for repairs. So, you’ll need to know what you need and where you can get them. Moreover, there’s always the possibility that the manufacturer has gone out of business and is no longer producing the damaged parts.
So, it’s worth considering more popular and reliable models from well-established brands when it comes to buying a second-hand tractor. Naturally, they come at an immediate higher price but save money in the long run.
Ask the seller for the tractor’s serial number to find out exactly where the tractor comes from.
The year
The age of a tractor is a major indication of how long it will last. Most farmers go by the 12,000-hour rule that suggests if a tractor has been used for more than 12,000 hours, its best days are over. After this point, repair and maintenance expenses tend to outweigh any income resulting from the tractor.
So, it’s essential that you find out when the tractor was made and how long it has been in use before putting your money on it. Consider asking the seller for the year of the tractor or check any relevant documentation for peace of mind.
The total number of hours a tractor has worked for should usually be clocked on the dial.

Horse Power

Depending on what work you do, you’re going to need a tractor that can handle it. It’s easy to fall into the assumption that all tractors can take on heavy workloads – that’s simply not the case.
Ask the seller about the tractor’s horsepower to ensure it has the ability to handle pulling heavy machinery.
To be sure, consider taking a test drive in the tractor to determine its “feel” and potential.

Overall appearance – wheels, body.

When buying used, you might not be expecting much. However, when it comes to farm machinery, a shabby outward appearance can indicate more significant problems.
It’s normal to expect some wear, but an unkempt and rusting body shows that the tractor has been poorly maintained. Additionally, worn-out tires can wreak havoc on a tractor’s inner-workings by placing undue stress on its functioning.
By simply taking a quick visual overview of a tractor, you can get an idea of how it might perform and what risks you’ll be taking upon purchasing.

Inspect the Tractor

Now for the real nitty-gritty part. To buy a used tractor without examining its major components beforehand would be a huge oversight. It’s necessary that you check both their appearance and performance.
A seller should permit you to both probe and test-run the tractor within limits. Here are the major things to look out for when doing just that:


If the cab includes a guidance system, check that all displays, receivers, gauges, and other electronic components are in working order. It’s also worth checking the windscreen wipers and ease of movement in the wheel once there.
The cab is where you can check how many hours of operation the tractor has completed.
Consider taking a look at the brake pedals to see if they are worn and change gears a few times to see with what ease the tractor is capable of doing so.


Regarding the hitch, a buyer should check that it is working correctly, especially if it is an extendable hydraulic hitch, by sliding it in and out.
A buyer should also check for give in any lift arms by lifting them up and down.


Check that the lights are in working order and won’t need replacing.

Articulation point

Even if the steering wheel felt fine, it’s still important to conduct a visual and operational inspection of the articulation point. Check for any wandering or looseness in the steering as this could mean that the main pin may be bent or damaged and needs to be replaced. Tight or difficult steering could signify that the pins need to be greased or that the hydraulic cylinders might not be in proper working order.
However, a knock while driving during this inspection could indicate a problem in the transmission.


When taking a look at the engine keep an eye out for cracked or worn hydraulic lines. Be sure to do the same for any coolant or fuel lines.
Find the engine plate to check for horsepower and to make sure the tractor meets emission standards for your jurisdiction.
Another indication that the engine could be failing is if a knocking or knocking or scratching sounds proceeds from it during a test drive. This potentially suggest a serious issue with the engine’s cylinders and can prove costly in the longrun.

Air filters

The engine should be off before inspecting the air filters. Once cold, you can remove the air filters to check for any damage. For optimal performance, air filters should be replaced every 200 to 400 hours of operation.

Oil leaks

Once the tractor is turned on and warm, you should take the engine’s oil cap off to check if there’s an issue with blowing. Abnormal blowing indicates compression leaking back down around the pistons, which is a severe problem that may not immediately present itself in the tractor’s performance.
Plus, once the tractor has warmed up and been driven around, any oil leaks should become more apparent.


Inspect the tractor’s radiator for any damage to the fins.

PTO (Power Take off) shaft

Ensure that the PTO has the proper specification for the attachments you will need to run. However, going beyond what you need can be beneficial in terms of fuel economy and tractor longevity.
By turning on the PTO and ensuring it’s first rotating smoothly, you can then listen for any abnormal noises. A typical noise to look out for is a knocking sound coming from the output shaft.

Smoke Colour

If the tractor is excreting blue or white smoke, it suggests a problem with the fuel injector. Dark smoke could be an indication of an issue with the tractor’s piston rings.
So, buying used doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality or performance. There are plenty of reliable used tractors out there to pick from, you just have to know how to spot them.

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