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Buying Your First Tractor

Author: Phil Brown

July 18, 2018

Congratulations! You bought a piece of land and now you are considering the purchase of a tractor.  Here is some helpful advice.

First and foremost, if you have never owned a tractor, it is important that you realize they are a dangerous piece of equipment.  Always wear your seatbelt, and always have the ROPS system up. If you roll your tractor, these two items will save your life! Believe me when I say tractors can roll over, even at a very slow speed.

Tractors come in various colors.  The most common are orange, blue, red, and green, just to name a few.  Many tractor owners have a specific brand that they are loyal to, myself included, but I am not going to go in to that here.  I encourage you to find a local dealer with an impeccable level of service, because you are going to need them after the sale.  I chased a low price on a tractor once and the service level from the dealer was horrible, so I no longer shop there. Luckily, the dealer I currently work with is just the opposite. They make it happen for me, which is very important.  The time I have to get tasks accomplished is limited and I need my equipment to run smoothly.

Decide whether you want to buy new or used.  As you research tractors, you will find that they hold their value much better than a car or truck.  Manufacturers often have zero percent financing for five years on new utility tractors. I typically purchase my tractors new under this program, and I have the comfort of knowing there is a warranty in place.

Do you want a front end loader?  I think it is an incredibly valuable addition to your tractor and allows you to get a lot more work done, especially if you are short on help.  Keep in mind though that this is the item that can act as a lever to roll your tractor. Remember to go slowly as you learn how to operate the loader and get a feel for what you can and cannot do. I also suggest you look at pallet forks in addition to the bucket.  These will come in handy for lifting and moving items.

Keep in mind that a tractor is not skid steer, and it is not a bulldozer.  If you start using it in that fashion there is a high probability you are going to break something. Front wheel assist, also known as four wheel drive is a great option.  You do not want to spend your time being stuck in the field.

The PTO (Power Take-Off) is one of the most dangerous items on a tractor. This is what powers implements such as a rotary cutter and it comes off the back of your tractor. You never want to get near this while it is running.  If you were to snag a piece of clothing on the PTO shaft it will not let you go. You will lose a hand, arm, or your life.

Cab or no cab is another decision to make.  A cab is definitely more money, but it also allows you to work in weather or conditions that you might not normally work in.  Some might call a cab a luxury and I could understand that argument, but it sure is nice during certain times of the year.

How big is big enough?  I encourage you to buy as much as you can afford.  There is nothing wrong with starting with a 50 hp utility tractor.  It will serve you well and you can get a lot done! If your property expands and you begin working larger fields you will probably wind up stepping up to a larger tractor that can pull larger equipment.  

There is no magic formula on what you should buy.  Do your research and find a local dealership that will serve you well.  An afternoon on a tractor is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and clear your mind.  Be safe and have fun!

Phil Brown
Broker/Partner
Trophy Properties and Auction