Need to buy a new tractor? Research and ask questions for the best informed purchaseby Noah Radliff

During the year, diversified agricultural activities will eventually peak and equipment is needed the most. The mechanical heartbeat of the farm is the tractor. We all have our favorite color of tractors – one minute you’re “swearing by” and the next you’re “swearing at” because when you need it, it breaks down. Now your time, effort and energy (three things that are in short supply on a farm) need to be diverted from your farm’s pressing matters to fix your tractor. Sometimes we need to ask: Is it time to purchase a new tractor?

There is some solid financial thought that needs to go into that decision. If you are going to fix the old tractor by yourself then your time, effort and money are going to be spent on a full diagnostic of the issue and repairs along with money to be spent on parts.

Another option is to let someone else or a repair shop fix it, which can cost you considerably more. You will also have your time or “downtime” being a factor because of not having a tractor. One more important thing you have to keep in mind: Do they still make or can you get parts for your old tractor?

Let’s say that the tractor you have, after careful inspection, is no longer financially acceptable to fix, parts are hard to come by and the decision has been made to buy a new tractor. There are some things you need to be prepared for before you start looking at a new tractor. James MacFadden, owner of MacFadden & Sons in Sharon Springs, NY, suggests that you need to find the right tractor for the job. Four-wheel drive, loader, implements used and horsepower should be discussed when you are looking for a tractor. Is the tractor going to be used for hard work, light work or occasional work?

Another aspect when purchasing a new tractor is knowing your financials. How much money is in your coffers? Is there money you can use to make a down payment on a new tractor? Can you make a monthly payment? How is your credit? Are you a member of a credit union?

MacFadden said more than likely the tractor dealership will set you up with a loan using that tractor company’s program. One of the most important points is if you get a loan to help purchase your tractor you will have to get insurance on that tractor. Whoever the loan company may be, they want to protect their loan investment.

Before purchasing a tractor, identify and understand the manufacturer’s warranty. What is covered? What is not covered? How long is it covered for? What is the first initial service period and what are the service periods thereafter? Each tractor company service period is different. You need to know what your tractor service timeline will be, such as how many running hours can elapse before clutch adjustments or brake adjustments.

The time of the year to buy a new tractor can make a difference. The “rule of thumb” is that when the temperature goes down, so do the prices, and when the temperature rises so do special offers with tractor companies. (Different tractor companies offer different deals at different times of the year per their business practices.)

At the end of the year tractor dealers want to make room and are looking to bring in the newer models. A lot of tractor companies drop prices to allow for quicker sales of current year models. Also, around March tractor companies want to sell the new tractors to people that are eager to get back outside and work. Tractor dealerships offer discounted loaders, attachments or 0% down. Dealerships also offer a certain amount of months to pay the tractor off with 0% financing with 0% interest.

A newer trend is that the dealers are offering package deals with a tractor, loader, rotary brush cutter and box blade on a trailer. Remember when looking at these types of deals to ask questions about the offers: What happens if I do not get the tractor paid off in the allotted time? Does the 0% interest offer end and the prior interest now get applied?

It is the buyer’s job to fully understand the fine print. Ask questions.

Lastly, consider pricing and availability of replacement parts. Some items to look at are wheel bearings, lug bolts and nuts, replacement wheels and/or tires, fuel injectors, hydraulic couplers, hydraulic pumps, radiators, exhaust pipes and or mufflers (caused by low doorway damage). Do not forget about routine maintenance part prices such as hydraulic and oil filters.

Everyone has different preferences as to what kind of tractor they want to buy. Each tractor company has their own idea of quality, pricing and offers to get you to buy their product. It is your job to do the research needed before purchasing your new tractor.