Farm Equipment: How to choose a used tractor

When choosing a used tractor, mechanical soundness is of prime importance. Here's what to look for.
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When choosing a used tractor, mechanical soundness is of prime importance. Here's what to look for.

Appearances can be particularly deceiving in the quest for a used tractor. Torn seat covers and faded paint may hide an engine of gold. Tractors are often kept outdoors year in and year out, which does a number on the exterior without necessarily having adverse effects on the working parts. This is not to say that a shed-kept, lovingly tended older tractor won't run as good as it looks. Whatever its appearance, have a tractor-savvy mechanic inspect any model that you are seriously considering buying. Be on the lookout for the following trouble signs:

?Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

?Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

  • knocking or sputtering once the engine is warmed up and idling, making allowances for the naturally noisiness of diesel compared to gasoline engines,
  • oil leaks from the engine or fluid leeks from the gear train and hydraulic system,
  • cuts, cracks and excessive tread wear on the tires,
  • unequal braking when each side is tested independently,
  • problems with the clutch and difficulties in shifting gears, given the machine's shifting setup (at a standstill or "on the go"),
  • missing safety equipment, particularly the PTO shield.No matter the antiquity of the tractor you choose, you'll need to know its operating and maintenance requirements. Request the owner's manual from the seller, or contact an area equipment dealer to see about finding a replacement for a missing manual.