Tips on buying a used tractor

7/7/2015 9:00:27 AM by

Buying a used tractor can be a significant investment, and requires the appropriate forethought. First, you need to select the type of tractor you're looking for. If you need a machine for working acreage, you're in a better position to get what you need quickly than those looking for tractors for other purposes. Although you're probably going to use common sense to evaluate a possible purchase, you should also arm yourself with the critical knowledge about the tractor's operation. Acquire the owner's manual before going to preview the physical machine so you're familiar with its specs.

Here are some tips for checking out a used tractor:

Easy cold start

A tractor that starts easily can eradicate several concerns at once – battery, compression, ignition wiring and fuel flow. If it doesn't start easily, it could still be a good machine, but you'll be working on it often.

Runs well while hot

Get the tractor hot to find out how it will work after the first plow row. Run it for 30 minutes and look for oil and antifreeze leaks as well as seeing if it starts back up after you shut it down.


Blue smoke means potentially difficult issues like valve guides or pistons. Black or white smoke can usually be solved with adjustments to the carburetor or ignition changes.

Engine clunking noises

A low "clunk" sound from the middle or bottom of an engine could mean serious and expensive repairs.

Check the oil

Run the previewed tractor for a while, then turn it off and check the oil for foaming or water.


Extend the rams while holding a load to check their full range. If you hear chattering noises from the pump when lifting tells you that the pump isn't getting sufficient hydraulic fluid flow.

If your testing shows any of these problems, see if the seller will come down significantly in price. If you decide that you have time to fix the issues and pocket the savings, check out our online hub, where you can reach out to sellers who have the parts you need.

Your work and time are precious. Don't waste them with a bad tractor.