Online auctions and dealers are popular places to find a used tractor, but sometimes you’ll find a farmer selling a tractor on his own. If you’re interested in buying and the tractor is one-to-three years old, it’s probably in good condition or at least any issues were taken care of under warranty. Older tractors need closer scrutiny.
Dave Mowitz is the executive machinery editor for Successful Farming magazine. He says it’s important that you investigate the tractor’s past.
“Ask how it was used and why they’re selling it. That’s a question that catches a lot of guys is why are you selling it? Is it he’s retiring or he’s just got a bigger tractor and decided to sell it himself, or you may be able to detect if he’s trying to get rid of a problem,” says Mowitz. “Then, ask for the service records. If a guy doesn’t have service records on a tractor, I’d be pretty worried. I would want to know how well that’s been taken care of.”
It’s crucial to do a physical inspection. Hop on the tractor seat and start it. Let it warm up and listen to the engine.
“Listen to it run inside the cab because there’s different noises coming into the cab, then get outside, open the hood, and listen to it out there,” he recommends. “Does it run evenly with no knocking at full speed, is there a constant sound coming from the stack or are you getting a miss in there? Is the operation ragged? If that’s the case, the injectors and valves could be faulty. Constant black smoke might mean you’ve got a fuel pump problem. Gray smoke may mean you have a crack in the block or there’s some problem where the coolant’s getting in there.”
If you’re not confident in your own inspection skills, bring a friend or a mechanic along with you.