What to look for when buying a used tractor
Keep in mind that a tractor has always been, and always will be, essentially a mechanical device used to pull, carry or provide drive to the equipment performing the actual task.
Therefore, the engine, transmission, hydraulics and power take off remain the most important components to be considered when making a purchase. Everything else is purely cosmetic and can often be better described as frills.
No matter what the situation – clearing sale, auction house, private sale or dealer — always start it up and see how it runs.
Black smoke coming out the exhaust when the engine starts is quite normal, but should clear fairly quickly. Light grey or white smoke is not preferred and may indicate that there is water getting into the system.
The best advice I could give regarding the transmission is jump on and go for a drive. A syncro gearbox should shift up and down through the gears with relative ease.
The gear stick should feel reasonably firm. A little bit of play is acceptable but excessive slop could indicate loose or very worn linkages and can result in the transmission jumping out of gear. Not ideal.
While driving, apply the brakes to make sure the clutch doesn’t slip under load. This is a good opportunity to test both the left and right turning break.
The priority here is to make sure it works, so give it a run in each speed. Have a close look at the PTO spline to make sure it hasn’t been damaged. Excessive or sudden overload on the PTO shaft can cause bending or twisting of the spline.
The visual condition of the tractor will often give you a good indication of how well it’s been looked after. Always ask for the service records or documentation that support claims of regular maintenance.If no record of servicing has been kept then you will have to look for signs of regular maintenance and carry out a few basic checks.
Get some background on the machine, including where it has been, who has owned it and what work it has been doing.Check service logs, if there are any, and make sure all documentation is in place, including any potential warranty details. It’s worth making sure the engine number still correlates with the log book, too.The visual condition of the tractor will often give you a good indication of how well it’s been looked after. Always ask for the service records or documentation that support claims of regular maintenance.
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