First Time Tractor Buyer: What You Should Knowadmin
Buying a tractor for the first time can be a lengthy and tedious process. The decision to purchase a tractor is often an investment; its diverse utility can save money and time in the long-run. However, if you pick a tractor that doesn’t meet your requirements, the results can be more trouble than they’re worth.
Fortunately, you can safeguard yourself by taking a few precautionary steps and cultivating a plan-of-action. Let’s take a look at how that’s done.
Make a list of what you need in a tractor
Once you’ve picked your tractor, you’re going to put it to use. It’s best to make sure that the tractor will be capable of doing everything you intend it to do. Having a list on hand of the desired application from a tractor cannot only serve as a guide for you but can help a dealer point you in the right direction. Here are some of the factors you might want to consider:
- The terrain a tractor will need to cover – rocky, undulating, flat, muddy.
- What jobs your tractor will be doing – haying, baling, field mowing, snow removal, material transport.
- What implements you think you’ll need to achieve the aforementioned tasks.
- A ballpark estimate of required horsepower/torque.
- Automatic or manual transmission – what gearbox suits you.
- Importance of cab comfort – heating, air-conditioning
- And finally, your budget.
Once you’ve got your comprehensive list of tractor requirements, you should feel more at ease while browsing. Your requirements have already whittled out a large number of tractors, and you should be left with a smaller yet suitable selection to choose from.
Four Wheel Drive or Two Wheel Drive?
Though there are many variations of tractors on the market, they can generally be separated into Four Wheel Drive (4WD) or Two Wheel Drive (2WD) categories. In short, 4WD tractors are generally capable of a heavier workload and have a wider application variety. Furthermore, they usually have more traction, which is favourable for expansive and fluctuation farms/terrains.
2WD tractors are more suited to general farmwork due to their better manoeuvrability and slightness.
In comparison to one another, 4WD are by far the more expensive up-front option. However, they require less servicing and are more fuel-efficient, balancing out any extra expenses in the long run.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, you should start looking at specific tractor components. Getting to know each element’s purpose and how it functions can ease the selection process and help you understand whatever tractor you pick.
Here are the major tractor parts that you should always check out and keep in mind:
Engine – Horsepower
When it comes to engines, the heart of your machine, you’ll be met with two types: diesel and gasoline. Diesel generally offers more power than its gas counterpart; however, an engine’s horsepower is the true indicator of its capabilities.
If you’re looking for a tractor to do basic mowing over flat terrain then a 25 to 30 horse power range should suffice. For more demanding work like ploughing and engine with 45 to 85 horsepower range would be preferable. Anything above should be enough to carry out heavyweight farm tasks.
In order to use any implements or equipment, at least one hitch is required. However, a tractor can come with up to three hitches used for a variety of purposes. Three-point hitch tractors are the most common and also the most useful. They come with a hydraulic lift for raising and lowering implements, a drawbar hitch for more general work, and specialized hitches for attachments such as front-end loaders and forklifts.
Like engines, hitches also have horsepower. Here’s the order to look out for.
Category 0: 20 horsepower
Category 1: 20 to 50 horsepower
Category 2: 50 to 90 horsepower
Looking at the type of transmission is essential as it can determine the tractor’s overall performance. A tractor with hydro-static transmissions does not require a lot of effort to drive. Changing speed in these tractors is as easy as increasing or decreasing pressure on the pedals.
In contrast, gear-driven transmissions require the driver to physically shift gears in order to change speed. Often, the tractor needs to be at a standstill in order for these changes to be made. However, constant speed is ensured in comparison to the changeability of hydro-static transmissions.
If you’re looking for a more modern, state-of-the-art tractor, then look out for hydraulic lines. Hydraulics can make a tractor’s steering feel lighter and power farm equipment such as backhoes and front-end loaders.
Power Take Off (PTO) shaft.
Usually located at the tractor’s rear, the PTO is a spinning shaft that translates engine power into equipment power. This component will be used to power any mowers or bailers you intent to use, so it’s important. Keep in mind that PTO’s generally have a separate horsepower rating than the engine, which is worth keeping an eye out for.
If you’re expecting to use a mid-mount mower or a front-mounted broom, then be sure to look for a tractor with a mid-mount PTO.
Interestingly, tires are often overlooked in favor of engine power. However, if the tires don’t suit the terrain, the engine power won’t matter. So, it’s best to look for suitable tires that will have adequate traction and hold. By taking a quick look at tire width and tread depth, you can get an idea of how robust and capable they are.
Rollover Protective Structure
And last but not least, if you intend to use your tractor on uneven ground, you might want to keep an eye out for rollover protective structures. If a tractor topples when in use, it can prove damaging to not only the tractor itself but also its operator. A rollover protective structure can’t prevent a tractor from toppling, but it can minimize or eliminate any resulting damage. Consider it your tractor’s safety net.
If you’re still not sure, bring along a second set of eyes. An experienced farmer should be able to show you the ropes and point you in the right direction. Also, never forget that you can ask the dealer for test drives. Sometimes, a test drive is the best way to get a “feel” of the tractor’s strength and quality