Owners of small farms, a good way to renew your fleet without making a huge investment is by buying a second-hand or used tractor that is more powerful, more modern and more efficient.

But this is where the dilemma starts: what should you consider when buying a second-hand tractor? We’ve listed a few tips just for you!

Research

First of all, think about what you are looking for: what tasks does your new vehicle have to carry out? How many hours a day will it be used? How many workloads will it have to transport? Will it only transport material or will it also tow trailers for heavier work?

To help narrow your options, a good place to start is the internet: web-advertising sites. It’s easier to limit your search and compare models and prices on-line. We suggest contacting only reliable sellers who can provide warranties and getting at least more than one offer for the same model.

Once you have found the tractor that is right for you, contact the seller and schedule a meeting to assess the vehicle.

Inspection

During this stage, try to find out as much as possible regarding your prospective tractor: its history, when and where it was purchased, number of hours it was used, repairs done, etc. In order to avoid any disappointing surprises, we recommend going over and checking these aspects when surveying your vehicle on site.

1. General overall appearance and tires

The overall look of the tractor gives you an overview of the tractor’s condition and how it was treated by the previous owner. Peeling paint, cracks or abrasions on the tires are signs that the tractor was used a lot and perhaps left outside at all times, exposed to rainfalls and other weather conditions.

Be careful of new paint jobs. Don’t be fooled. Tiny defects could be hidden under the beautiful paint.

Examine the condition of the tires: look for signs of punctures or abrasions and check the wear by measuring the tread depth comparing it to that of a new tire. This is an important step so you can see if and for how long you can use the tires. If the tires are in poor condition, try to lower the purchase price in view of the investment you are about to make.

2. Transmission

Check the pivot points and junctures of mechanical parts. Make sure parts are well lubricated. Check that there is no residue of splinters or metal filings, signs of excessive wear or improper maintenance. For closer inspection, start the engine and put it in gear. Be aware of any sounds that could indicate transmission damage.

Steer the wheel left and right, assessing tightness and responsiveness. Hard to turn or stiff steering can mean that the hydraulic cylinders are not working properly.

3. Engine and hydraulics

Take a good close look at the engine while it is running, and look for any loss of fluid from the engine, pipes, tank or hydraulic system. Don’t forget to check the plate that covers the engine. Verify the horsepower and make sure that emissions and fuel consumption were reported properly and up to standard.

Turn the engine off and check the air filters. They must be perfectly clean.

4. Cabin

Don’t underestimate cleanliness. A nice and neat cabin is always a good sign and shows that the previous owner was careful. From the driver’s side, check the distances traveled and the hours worked.

If the tractor is a recent model, equipped with electronic systems and GPS, test proper functioning of these systems by turning them on and checking all the display screens.

5. PTO (Power Take-Off)

In order to make the best use of your new tractor, the PTO (Power Take-Off) must function properly. Start the engine and the PTO. Make sure shaft movement is smooth and listen for any strange noises or squeaks. Be sure the tractor has the necessary couplings to connect to your trailers, giving you the power to do more work with one single machine.

6. Maintenance and documentation

Ask the seller to provide all the documentation related to the tractor: original instruction and maintenance manuals, reports of maintenance performed, repairs: how and by whom they were done. Also, find out about the manufacturer's warranty: is it still valid? Can you buy an extended warranty?

7. Field testing

The last, but not least important tip of the day: ask the owner if you can carry out a "field test" before finalizing the purchase. It will help you figure out if the vehicle is right for you.

Do you have other suggestions on how to evaluate a used tractor? Share them with us!