New or Second-hand tractor? Things to think when buying a tractor

Classy, comfortable, and a joy to ride – you’ve found the ideal tractor for your property. It even comes with that attachment you’ve been looking to get for a while now. 

Hold up. Not so fast. 

Have you considered all your options?

For many farmers and landowners, buying a tractor is one of the larger business decisions they’ll make. That’s because tractors are vital to the productivity of a farm. The right tractor is the tool that takes out hours of hard labour – transforming how we interact with the land, the produce, or the materials on a job site. So when it comes to getting your hands on a new (or used) one it’s only natural to tread with caution. 

Here are 7 things to consider before you make your decision. 

1. Think about size and functionality

Size is everything when it comes to choosing your next tractor. Get it wrong and things can be financially and physically disastrous. Too small and you’ll run the risk of damaging your hydraulics, ultimately being unable to complete tasks, and too big and you’re running into cripplingly expensive fuel costs. 

  • Getting the size right for your jobs is essential. Ask yourself: what’s the largest attachment I’m likely to run? Pick a tractor that has that capability, and nothing more. 
  • Do you need a specialty tractor for the tasks on your to-do list? Optimising for your industry can reap great results if you’re hoping to gain from higher productivity. New tractors have more specialised capabilities that you can benefit from. 

2. Consult your budget 

Your budget is your guiding light in this journey. Without it, you’re cut loose from reality. While new tractors do pack on a much larger price tag, the cheaper second hand tractor must always be checked for potential flaws and issues. If you find an issue – immediately calculate the cost of repair and factor that into the cost – plus the time and effort of transporting it to the dealer, etc. You may find going for a fully functioning new tractor in the first place saves you time and money. 

3. Ongoing ownership and maintenance costs

Any tractor – new or used is an investment in your business or project. Factoring in ongoing costs is something that you should do before committing to buying an asset like a tractor. That’s things like:

  • Depreciation 
  • Fuel, oil and maintenance costs
  • Insurance 
  • Housing 
  • Extra attachments and equipment  

Balancing out these costs with the cost of labour saved and the jobs it will complete is essential. Weighting up insurance on a new tractor compared to a used one may give you different results depending on the type and brand – make sure you’re above all these aspects before diving in. 

4. What to look out for in a used tractor 

Buying a used tractor will be a sigh of relief for your bank account. But be careful not to miss any of the following warning signs:

  • Wear and tear. Second hand tractors may not have been properly cared for – often being left out in the rain, and poorly housed overnight. Look out for rust, dents, and other signs of decay around the body, tyres and especially around the engine.
  • Over the 5,000 hour mark. Tractors with over 5,000 hours tend to have more issues than you’d like – keep your mind open about other options before going for a tractor that “looks” good but probably isn’t. Check the breaks, clutch, and steering too.
  • Weak hydraulics. Make sure you take the tractor in question for a test run. The hydraulics are often the first system to take a beating – so give the system a pressure test. Don’t forget to check the oil, and make sure there’s no spillage.

5. Benefits of a new tractor 

Aside from all the latest and greatest tech, there are a few other benefits of buying a new tractor that could make all the difference to your day. 

  • Warranty – you don’t need it…until you do. Warranty on a tractor is essential – especially if something goes awry. Make sure you’re buying from a trusted dealer – and check twice before you commit to the sale – warranties can also be somewhat elusive as to what they actually cover. 
  • Safety – new tractors are safer to run. It’s just how it is. With more developed technologies, brand new tractors often sport better ROPS systems and usually have superior equipment that’s more likely to keep you alive. 
  • More comfortable – ergonomics was a bit late to the world of heavy machinery. But it’s arrived thank goodness. New tractors these days actually can get quite comfortable, with special attention paid to operators controls, suspension and even little luxuries like radios and charger ports are appearing on some newer models. You might even luck out and snag a quieter engine too.

6. Think about future uses 

Are you expanding your operations? Don’t rule out bigger, more complex, and vastly different jobs in the future. A 25 horsepower specialist tractor may be perfect for your mini orchard today, but 4 years down the line and you’re wanting to till a large field – you’re going to run into some issues. Think long-term about your needs – choose wisely based on all your potential future to-do lists. 

7. Consult a local expert 

Call up your local dealership with tractors for sale. Give them a rundown of your position and ask for advice. If they’re worth their metal they’ll offer you a range of well-priced alternatives based on your needs. Building up a working relationship with a local dealership is a great way to manage ongoing costs and potentially get a great deal down the track. 

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