Buying Second Hand Tractors

Purchasing a tractor is a major but essential investment for an efficient farm operation or a busy landscaping, industrial or construction business.  A new compact tractor sells for around $10,000, and the largest and most powerful farm tractors could cost several hundred thousand dollars. No matter what size of tractor is needed, this is not a frequent purchase and there is no need to purchase a new one. A well-maintained tractor works well for 20 to 30 years, and much longer if it is not used frequently. The service life of used tractors depends less on their age than on the quality of care they receive.
Benefits of Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance and timely repairs of a tractor increase its efficiency and extend its life often through several owners.  If something goes wrong with a tractor, it is always less expensive to fix it right away. Continuing to operate the tractor can cause serious damage and lead to expensive repairs. This means that the operator should understand how the basic parts of a tractor operate normally, and be able to recognize early indications of trouble.

Start with the cooling system that keeps the engine from overheating. If air cooling is being used, check the belt used to turn the fan to make sure it is tight enough that it does not slip. A loose belt means the fan does not blow enough air to keep the motor cool. Replacing a belt with cracks in it will also prevent breakdowns in the field.

If the tractor is water cooled, check daily to make sure that the coolant level is normal, that there are no signs of rust in the coolant, and that the radiator cap spring and seal are operational. Also, keep an eye on the thermostat to make sure the valve is opening when the engine water is hot. All these steps will prevent overheating.  

Another belt turns the generator or alternator, and the water pump and its fan. Check daily to make sure this belt has adequate tension to keep the battery charged and help prevent engine overheating. Since the battery supplies power to the tractor, the water level in each cell should be checked before use.

Service the air cleaner regularly to prevent dust and other contaminants from entering and damaging the engine. Check the level of the engine oil regularly and replace the oil and oil filter at the recommended intervals. If the oil light comes on during operation, the cause of the problem should be determined immediately to prevent damage to the motor. If the alternator light comes on during operation, check the cause immediately before losing power.

Check the level of brake fluid and oil in the steering mechanism to prevent damage to the machine or to the operator if there is an accident. Frequent top ups might mean a leak that should be fixed before it becomes an expensive repair. Maintaining the tire pressure and replacing worn tires prevent excessive fuel consumption and provides a safe ride. Do not do damage by riding the clutch as that is another expensive repair item.

This basic maintenance ensures that all engine parts are lubricated, cleaned and cooled, and that rusting is prevented. All this effort pays off in a tractor that runs smoothly and will not leave the operator stranded in the middle of a field. Paying attention to these daily checks also identifies wear and tear that indicates the need for a repair or replacement of a part.

Value of Used Tractors
All these basic maintenance and repair procedures bolster the value of the tractors even over decades. For example, a well maintained Massey-Ferguson MF390 manufactured in 1992 with 6650 hours on the clock is still valued at $13,000 in the United States and slightly more in the United Kingdom and Europe. There are several reasons such tractors maintain their value. These are brands that possess a long standing reputation of reliability. Because they are popular, it is fairly easy to obtain replacement parts, as needed.  Also, the value is maintained because the demand is steady. Not everyone wants or needs tractors with all the latest technology such as power take off and a GPS to keep those furrows straight.

A typical tractor runs 12,000 hours before it is not economically feasible to continue to repair it. That is a long life for a piece of equipment that is so necessary and so versatile on the farm scene. If a farmer is planning to buy a used tractor, he will need to consider the condition of the machine and, if possible, see a paper trail for some of the maintenance and repair work. He will check out any equipment that comes with it and also see if the tractor will accommodate other equipment he already has. If he really understands the value of used tractors, he will take his time and make a purchase that will last.

Written by Author

May 2012