8 things to inspect when buying used tractors

July 25, 2023
When buying used tractors, there are several things you need to inspect.

Whether you run a large agricultural contracting business or a small farming business, agricultural tractors are probably critical to your day-to-day operations. In an earlier blog article, we listed the benefits of buying used tractors, but how can you be sure that the used tractor you find is a good buy? Leveraging advice from Ritchie Bros. experts, this article lists the most important things to check when inspecting a used tractor before purchase. Here we go:

1. Understand the size of the machine

Having a clear understanding of your needs before starting to explore the options available is essential for a successful purchase. The most suitable machine for your farm depends on multiple factors, such as your type of crops, job demands, and the soil the tractor needs to work on. At this stage, it is helpful to consider:

  • A tractor’s power, displacement, size, wheelbase, and weight,
  • The equipment and attachments you’ll be using, and
  • The different types of soil you’ll be working.

2. External appearance

The first visual appearance can give you valuable insights into the machine’s history and care. Do a complete walk around the tractor and check for any leaks. Then, check for dents, missing parts, and the condition of the headlights, cab glass, and fenders. Do the body and fenders have dents or missing parts? Also, is there any rust?

3. Kick the tires (literally)

Remember that well-balanced tires will support the machine’s performance. So, pay special attention to the tires. Ensure they lack any cuts or cracks and have at least 30-40% tread. The ratio and size of the front and rear tires should be correct and correspond with the registration document.

4. The cabin

Step into the operator’s station and check everything from the seat’s condition to the legibility of the gauges and smoothness of the controls. These elements contribute significantly to effective and comfortable tractor operation. Don’t overlook the function of ventilation and air conditioning systems.

5. The heart of the beast: The engine

Start with lifting the hood and getting a first impression. How does the engine look? Are there signs of leakage or rust? Any parts damaged by heat or malfunction? Start the engine and watch for malfunctioning lights or alarms. Check if there’s abnormal smoke when the engine starts cold and when the engine is warmed up. Unusual noise or metallic sounds could indicate worn parts. Ensure the linkages of the controls, shuttle, and transmission are in good shape before starting.

Did you know? At Ritchie Bros. auctions, you can personally inspect tractor before buying. You can also bring a mechanic to inspect the machine for you!  

6. Transmission

Whether mechanical, powershift or continuously variable, the transmission must be smooth, linear, and free of abnormal sounds. A key component associated with the transmission is the shuttle; it can be mechanical or electrohydraulic. In testing, it must ensure smooth operation.

7. And now, the actual test

Once you’ve started the tractor, check the brakes’ efficiency and the proper steering functioning, especially during low-speed maneuvers. If you can’t connect an attachment, verify that the PTO (Power Take-Off) speeds without a load and the rear linkage controls by observing their movement speed. Listen for abnormal noises and detect any vibrations.

8. Tractors and technology

Technology has become an increasingly important part of modern agriculture. Newer tractors often come equipped with GPS technology and automatic guidance systems that improve productivity, safety, driving comfort and can provide work traceability. Always consider whether you have the specialized technical support to maintain a technologically advanced tractor.

Did you know? In case you can’t make it to the yard, the Ritchie Bros. 360 View Equipment Inspections feature is coming to Europe to help you make the best decision possible.

Feeling confident enough to inspect your next purchase? The Ritchie Bros. tractor inventory includes all kinds of machines for every need and budget. Whether you find one at Ritchie Bros. or somewhere else, good luck with your upcoming tractor purchase!

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