Buying a Used Tractor 11 Things You Need to Look Out For

Buying a Used Tractor 11 Things You Need to Look Out For

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Purchasing a used tractor can be challenging, especially with the wide range of private sellers and dealers. These dealers often offer an equally wide range of variously-specified models in many different conditions. 

The process of searching the used market for a tractor can be tricky; that’s why you have to be extra careful before committing to the sale.

This article provides you with a few profound pointers to help you before purchasing that second-hand tractor. The information will help the uninitiated and remind experienced buyers of the little overlooked things when assessing a potential purchase. Without further ado, let’s begin!

1. Determine the Price of the Used Tractor before Hand

Before you make a step to purchase a used tractor, you must do your homework to ascertain the tractor’s price.  Ensure you know the tractor’s price range you can afford if you don’t have a specific tractor model in mind.

But, if you have the make and the model of the used tractor you need to buy, find the price of a new tractor of the same make and model. You can search for the tractor dealership website and manufacturer’s website for the prices of new tractors.

You can also consult a catalog of new tractors for sale. To have a maximum cost for the make and model of the used tractor that you are considering, identify the tractor’s selling price that has not been used at all.

Afterward, you can look up the prices of similar used tractors for comparison. You can consider online listings or other farm auctions of the same types of used tractors and determine how much they cost. Finally, compile a list of similar used tractors.

Once you have the price range of new and used tractors of the same type, you can use the new tractor’s price as the maximum cost when negotiating prices or shopping for a used tractor.

Also, when you are pricing a used tractor, you can even factor in the costs of repairs such as repainting or replacing tires.

2. The Overall Maintenance and Appearance of the Tractor

Any used tractor that looks well-maintained often has been well-maintained. Once you have identified your tractor’s choice, give the tractor an overall inspection to ascertain its overall maintenance and appearance. You can get a good impression of the tractor’s condition simply by carrying out a visual inspection.

Check the tractor for any peeling paints, dents, and rusts, cracked or bulging tires. These are signs that a tractor was stored outside and perhaps even abused.  Confirm whether there is mud or dirt, which signifies that the tractor was poorly maintained or treated. Please don’t assume the dirt or mud; it could signify a deeper tractor problem.

You might also want to confirm whether the lights and electronics are working properly. Turn on all of the tractor’s lights, including any turn signals or hazard lights, to see that they are in working order.

Check all of the cab’s gauges and displays and test the radio and any other electronics in the cab to see if they are working. You can also test the guidance system or GPS display.

The tractor’s wiring system is also a must for examination. It would be best to examine all of the wirings in the cab and around the engine for any damage or fraying.

Confirm whether there are any cuts, breaks, or cracks in the sheathing around the wires and any exposed wires. Exposed and frayed wiring signifies poor maintenance and is a potential shock hazard.

Additionally, you can look for these things;

Tires: Check whether the tires show signs of bulge or bubbles, weathering, and cracks. These signs suggest that, if you were to buy the tractor, you’d need brand new tires not long after. Also, test the tire tread depth and note any clear signs of wear and tear.

Interior: Inspect the tractor’s interior to see whether there are some signs of use. If you notice anything which compromises your comfort or safety while you are in control of the tractor, it should be a turnoff.

Dashboard: Move to the dashboard and check it. Then check the electrics to make sure they function as they should. Remember to pay attention to the guidance system, if there is one.

3. Found Out the Basics

Buying a Used Tractor 11 Things You Need to Look Out For

Even after you have already found out about the tractor’s overall maintenance and appearance, you must find out the tractor’s basics.

Many buyers often miss checking the basics, such as mileage. That is, whether the tractor still has an MOT or needs a new test. It is worth it to look through the specification provided and ask if everything is as expected.

When you want to confirm the tractor’s history, it is worth asking where the tractor has been and what it has done. Also, check whether the tractor has ever been in an accident and whether there is any remaining finance on it.

Further, confirm whether the vehicle has main agent service records and if any major repairs have been carried have out. Remember, trustworthy dealers will always sell most of their tractors with full and comprehensive service histories available for inspection.

Besides inquiring about the tractor’s history, you must also ask about the tractor’s current condition. Find out what the tractor’s condition says about it and whether it needs any immediate attention.

4. Engine Compartment

The dealer might want to sell you a tractor that looks fine on the outside; however, you won’t know how it runs until you start it up. You should test the tractor to see if it runs reliably.

Start the tractor up, lift the hood, let it run, and check for any signs of leaks from the engine, hoses, or hydraulics. Also, examine whether there are any cracked or worn out hydraulic, coolant, or fuel lines.

Further, go for the engine plate and check for the amount of horsepower. Make sure that the engine meets your jurisdiction’s emission standards. Take a stethoscope or a screwdriver and hold it up to the engine block. Check whether any knocking or scratching sounds are coming from the engine cylinders.

Also, check what color smoke is being exhausted. Different smoke colors can represent various issues. For instance;

Black smoke: This is a sign of unburned diesel. It suggests a fault with the injector or the fuel pump.

Blue smoke: This is a sign that the engine is burning too much oil. It is typically a sign of worn or broken piston rings.

White smoke on startup: unlike the other types of smoke, this is common and should clear up quickly once the engine warms up.

A grey tinge: if you notice a grey tinge or tiny water bubbles on the dipstick, it could suggest that water has mixed with the oil. This signifies that the rings are probably bad, and oil has gotten in the oil pan.

Finally, remove the air filter once the machine is off. Remember, one should always replace air filters after every 100-200 hours, 300-400 hours for a cab filter. Therefore, check the operator’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. If the air filter has a regular replacement, then it should not appear dirty.

5. Articulation Point

Before you get that second-hand tractor, you must conduct both a visual and operational inspection of the articulation point. The tractor’s articulation point is the central moving part of the machine; therefore, it should always be greased. If you notice wrecks, you should understand that those are signs of wear and are most likely a result of improper maintenance. 

If you want to get into an operational tractor inspection, start up the tractor and drive it back and forth. If you notice a knock when moving the tractor, then a transmission slip could be the cause.

As you drive the tractor, turn the steering left and right, then check for any wandering or looseness. If you notice any wandering or looseness in the steering, it is an indication that the main pin may be bent. Sometimes it is an indication that the pin is damaged and needs replacement.

Sometimes you might notice tight or difficult steering. Tight or difficult steering could indicate that the hooks need to be greased. Or, maybe the hydraulic cylinders are not in proper working order.

6. Check the Tractor Mileage

Buying a Used Tractor 11 Things You Need to Look Out For

Please open the cab’s door and check the hour meter on the tachometer as you continue with the tractor inspection. The tachometer will tell you about the tractor mileage. The tachometer is an essential part of the tractor because it provides information such as its speed and RPMs.

Therefore, looking for the tachometer will tell you how many tractor hours of operation the tractor has performed.

If the readings are as follows;

1 hour of around 25,000, then the tractor is in a good condition

Hour readings above 35,000 the tractor is not good because of high tractor mileage.

Remember, the seller might try to alter the odometer of the tractor while trying to sell it. Also, some tractors may have up to 4,000 – 5,000 operating hours but may still be in perfect shape because they have been taken care of properly.

If the cab has a guidance system, check that all displays, receivers, and other electronic components are in working order.

7. Check the Power Take-Off (PTO) Shaft

Before you settle on that used tractor, make sure the PTO runs smoothly at all speeds. But before that, ensure that the PTO has the proper specification for the attachments you will need to run, for instance, 540, 720, 1000, or big 1000 RPM.

Regardless of the lifespan of the used tractor, it is better to buy a tractor that has more of what you need. For instance, confirm for perfection when it comes to horsepower, PTO power specification, etc. This is because you will have a better fuel economy in the field. Additionally, you will have the potential to handle any large jobs that could come up as your operation expands or changes.

Give the PTO a test run. Start the tractor, and then turn on the PTO. Check for a smooth rotating movement. Afterward, confirm whether there are any odd noises, such as a knocking sound coming from the running output shaft.

Ensure you find out if the PTO shaft is suitable for your requirements. This is because repairs to the PTO can be costly as the tractor rear end and usually the rear axle needs to be removed for access.

PTO problems can render the tractor useless if you can’t use attachments for your tasks.

If you want to confirm if the PTO is working properly beside you driving the tractor, have a friend or the seller drive the tractor around slowly so you can see it rotate to make sure it is working properly while the tractor is in motion.

8. Check the Hydraulics

One of the things you need to look out for before buying a used tractor is to check the hydraulics. Hydraulics is the tractor’s moving parts that can raise and lift. If you want to inspect the hydraulics, raise the loader or the hydraulic lift while the tractor is still, and hold it steady to confirm that it is functioning and can support the weight.

Also, look for leaks and poor seals. Ensure there isn’t any air leaking out near the hydraulics or poor seal. These leaks and poor seals are costly to repair and are possible signs that damage to the outlets or hydraulics tank may exist. But first, you must consider what types of attachments you will be running when inspecting the hydraulic outlets and auxiliary lines.

Remember, most air drills need a minimum of 3 hydraulic outlets and 1 auxiliary line with 38 GPM of hydraulic power. On the other hand, some air drills may need up to 5 hydraulic outlets and 3 auxiliary/return lines with 98 GPM of hydraulic power.

Hence, before you buy the tractor, you must ensure it has the proper number of outlets and lines. They are what you will need to run now and a year from now.

9. Maintenance Log and Supporting Documentation

Buying a Used Tractor 11 Things You Need to Look Out For

Sellers or dealers must have supporting documents such as maintenance logs, inspection lists, work orders, and other supporting documents.

Before you commit to any second-hand tractor, you must ask for evidence; that is, the relevant supporting documents. These documents will provide you with valuable insight into how often and what types of repairs were performed on the tractor.

Whether you are buying the tractor from a dealer or the owner, if they acquired it through a trade-in or at an auction firm and it came with a good record, they might keep those to show any potential buyers. Therefore, if they don’t have the original documentations, they probably don’t exist.

However, there are some exceptions. If the dealer doesn’t have the records, have an experienced mechanic you trust to do a thorough inspection.

Always keep a maintenance log, and never buy a tractor or other piece of equipment that doesn’t have one. 

10. Test Drive

After checking all the other tractor’s requirements, it is time for a test drive. Put the tractor through its paces to ensure it meets your needs.

It would be best to drive the tractor to see how it handles and how comfortable it feels to sit in it. Be keen to note how the seat feels, the steering’s grip, and anything else you notice when driving the tractor.

As you drive the tractor, please pay attention to how easy or difficult it is for you to enter and come out of the tractor. Remember, the tractor needs to feel comfortable. This is because you’ll likely spend lots of time in the tractor, especially if you intend to use it for fieldwork.

Examine the clutch and the brakes. Ensure the brakes are working properly. You can press on the brakes as you drive to make sure they work and there isn’t screeching noise.

Move to the clutches. There shouldn’t be any heave or scraping sounds for a tractor with an automatic transmission, particularly when you change into a higher gear as you drive. If the tractor has a standard transmission, make sure you shift the gears as you drive and listen to scraping sounds that would indicate damage or wear.

Some tractor’s wear and tear might be normal. However, if you notice premature or early wear, it could be a sign of poor maintenance, which could mean other tractor issues.

11. Ask for the Tractor Warranty

Finally, before you carry that tractor to your home, ensure you protect yourself against any unforeseen major failure. Please ask the tractor dear to provide you with the warranty. Most dealers always offer a 3-month driveline warranty. This type of warranty covers tractor components such as the engine, gearbox, axles, and differentials. However, some warranties might also include roadside assistance during that time with an optional warranty extension.

If the dealer agrees to offer the tractor warranty, please ask what protections you might get after the agreed deal.