How to shop for a used tractor


Buying a tractor is a major financial decision, but if budget is limited, you can save thousands of dollars if you shop for a used tractor.

Of course, buying a used tractor comes with some risk, and you’ll want to do your due diligence before putting your money on the line. To help you along your tractor-buying journey, we’ve got some tips when it comes to looking at used tractors.

Know what you need

Before looking for used tractors, you need to know exactly what you need your tractor to do. Smaller subcompact tractors are great for maintenance work and mowing grass, but if you are doing real farming work, then you need a tractor with the horsepower to get it done.

You are better off buying a tractor that has a little bit more muscle than you need rather than one that barely can handle your needs now. This way you won’t have to go looking for another tractor in a year or two.

Where to look

A great place to start your used tractor search is online classifieds like the ones at Check them out here. Not only can you find tractors from all over the country in one place, but you can fine tune your search by brand, tractor type, location, and price.

Tractor dealers in your immediate area are another option, though that requires a bit more leg work to see what is available, not to mention that the focus there is typically on new machines. You also might not be able to find exactly what you are looking for in the used category, as local supply may be limited.

Tractor condition

If you are looking online, you want as many photos as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for more if you don’t see enough in the online listing. If the seller isn’t willing to take and share more photos, that’s a pretty good indication that you should look elsewhere. However, whenever possible, it is best to look over a tractor in person.

Just like with people, first impressions are important when it comes to tractors. If a used tractor looks clean and cared for, there’s a pretty good chance it has been well looked after. But if it has significant body damage, is weather beaten, or dirty, it’s safe to assume the owner hasn’t spent a lot of time taking proper care of it.

It’s also worth noting where the tractor is stored. A tractor that is kept out in the open 24 hours a day will be more susceptible to rust and corrosion than one kept in a covered shed or garage.

Tractor tires can be very expensive, so carefully inspecting tires on a used tractor is a must. Beyond simply seeing how much tread life is left on the tires, look for cracking or bulging. If the tires look like they are in need of replacing soon, find out how much that is going to cost and add that number to the price of the used tractor to see if it still makes economic sense.

Other things to look for before ever turning the key include signs of leaking and any frayed or damaged wiring. It’s also smart to check over any documentation for the tractor from the owner so you can see any maintenance logs or repairs that were made to the tractor.

john deere pto
Image by Sheryl Watson, Shutterstock

Start it up

If everything looks on the up and up so far, it’s time to turn the tractor on and listen to how the engine sounds.

Open up the hood and check for any signs of leaks while the tractor has been running for a little while. Pay close attention to hydraulic lines for any cracking.

Go ahead and turn on the PTO and make sure it’s moving smoothly and not making any knocking noises.

Finally, take the tractor for a test run. Make sure the steering feels right and the brakes provide adequate stopping power. Test out the hydraulics and PTO and make sure they are working as expected.

If everything checks out, it’s time to begin negotiations and hopefully come to an agreement that sees you come home with a new-to-you tractor that will provide years of service.

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The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of AGDAILY.