Buyer beware: how to size up a used tractor
Buying a used tractor can be a tricky business, but you can greatly reduce your risk of ending up with a dud if you know what to look out for. Here are some tips that should stand you in good stead.
1 Stand back and assess the general condition of the tractor. Patches of oils or fluids underneath are immediate problems. The condition of the cab is often a good indicator as to the respect the previous owners showed the tractor.
2 Check the hour meter. General wear and tear should correspond with hours. A tractor showing 2,000 hours, but with the grips completely worn off the pedals from use would indicate a faulty or tampered with hour meter.
3 Try to start the engine from cold if possible. Continuous turning over without firing might indicate fuel flow or heater plug issues. A cold engine may smoke a little, but should clear quickly. Continuous blue or white smoke indicates bigger issues.
4 Check the steering for wear. Turn the steering wheel, and watch the front wheels. There should be an immediate response. A lag indicates wear somewhere in the linkage.
5 Check that all levers and switches operate correctly. Check that each one performs its individual task completely. Check that all lights work correctly. Additional worklights can be a huge bonus when working on those dark winter evenings.
6 Pull both the engine dipstick and rear end dipstick. Ensure oil levels are correct, the oil is of good quality and is not excessively blackened or burnt. Any cloudiness or signs of water in the oil is very bad news.
7 Take the tractor for a drive, ensuring every gear engages correctly, and there is no tendency to pop out of gear. Use your senses, listen for strange sounds, feel for odd vibrations, and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, and will warrant further investigation
8 Check the condition of the tyres. If tyres are close to being replaced, this should be reflected in the price. Take a look at the hubs and steering linkage for signs of wear or leaks
9 Inspect the pick up hitch and lower linkage for signs of excessive wear and tear. If the tractor is equipped with a telescopic hitch, ensure it travels freely and locks closed correctly.
10 Last but not least, bring someone "in the know" along with you if you feel you are out of your depth and might need some support in making the right decision.
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