Discovering the best tractor for your needs is less of a bother than you might think! Here are a some preliminary thoughts to consider as you enter your decision-making process.
What Will You Require Of Your Tractor?
First, ascertain your wants and needs, and visualize what you’ll require from your tractor in the present, and possibly in the future. Are you working with multiple acres of land that need mowing once or twice a week? Do you need a tractor for mowing only…or also for snow plowing? Will you be moving large or cumbersome items such as logs or hay bales? Will your tractor be used for tilling or seeding? You’ll want a tractor that stands up to your job requirements, and accommodates the attachments you’ll need to get the job done.
For aspiring agricultural professionals with multiple acres of land to tend to, it’s best advised to consider what kind of work your tractor will have to perform, which will help you narrow down the type of tractor needed to do the job. Your choice should be both logical and cost-effective. Be certain that you’re getting a tractor with ample power and expandability, otherwise your investment will backfire on you once it becomes insufficient enough to keep the pace with your future workload.
Tractors are large investments; not just in term of initial cost, but insurance, maintenance and future upgrades. Determine your specifications in terms of horsepower, torque, options and capabilities. It will help meet your exact needs from day one, onward:
Diesel or Gas? In terms of your typical residential application, a gasoline-powered tractor will fit the bill. For more than 5 acres, you’ll most likely need to perform heavier mowing duties, as well as plowing and lumber hauling. In doing so, you’ll need heavy duty tractor attachments. A diesel tractor is most likely the better decision, here.
A Lawn, Compact, or Farm Tractor? For properties under fifteen acres or so, you’ll need a tractor that can handle commonplace plowing, mowing, loading and gardening tasks. This is where you have two options to consider: either a lawn tractor or a compact tractor. Lawn tractors are riding lawn mowers with hefty construction and the ability to use simpler attachments including tillers, snow blowers, mower decks and blades. If you’re looking to use a mower deck, a deck between 54″ – 60″ should do it.
These shaft-driven lawn tractors can give you many years of service when cared for. Available with gas engines with approximately 15-25 HP engines, new lawn tractors ordinarily have a price tag of $2,000-$4,000 including a mower. Depending on its condition, you can bank on spending nearly half of that price on used lawn tractors.
For more practical, expandable options — look toward the compact tractor, instead. Think of compact tractors as a smaller version of your traditional tractor with capabilities for everything from mowing lawns, to loading, digging posts, plowing, tilling fields, hauling and other popular tasks. Their diesel powered engines range from 15-30 horsepower. Compact tractors normally include PTO (Power Take-Off), four wheel drive capability, full hydraulics and roll over protection; not to mention, readily available parts that are not difficult to find. When well maintained, they can last you a good thirty years.
Compact tractors can use tractor attachments such as rear mowers, sweepers, plows, backhoe attachments, box blades and more. These tractors’ reliability make them worthwhile choices for your next used tractor. Expect to spend in the ballpark $10,000-$20,000 for a new compact tractor, and approximately $5,000-7,000 for a used model.
Costs: Today and Tomorrow
Budgeting For Your New Tractor: The cost of a tractor is justified when you take decades of service it will give you, into consideration. When you factor the return on decades of farming, lawn maintenance and towing capabilities, the true investment of a tractor is apparent. Budget in the cost of attachments as well — they’re an inevitable inclusion for any tractor owner depending on individual need.
The initial cost of a tractor includes purchase price, shipping (flatbed vs. pick-up, etc.) to your location, and monthly insurance. The long-term costs include maintenance (which may include parts & labor), fuel and attachments/upgrades. Create a monthly estimate of these costs to determine what the ongoing cost of a tractor will be. Compare it to your monthly income, and determine important variables such as break-even (how long it takes for you to ‘earn the money back you’ve spent on the tractor’) and your total income after regular monthly expenses.
Comparison shop for quality used attachments to save significant money, rather than purchasing them directly from a dealer. The used tractor attachment market certainly is worth your time and effort, as used equipment is still just as hearty and worthwhile as brand new equipment, except with the far greater price tag.
Depending on the attachments you need, your expenses can vary wildly. For example, used box blades can fetch a $450 price tag, whereas some of the more expensive tractor attachments, such as loader attachments, might run a far greater $4,000-5,000. Any un-powered attachment (that is, without PTO usage, or hydraulics) is typically far more affordable. However, hydraulic attachments include backhoe arms or lifts can virtually transform your tractor into performing some of the capabilities of a skid steer or backhoe, which can expand your business horizons and earn you more money by lessening your need to rent heavy equipment. Everything is relative, and depends on your skills as a smart accountant to determine how spending money will make more money in the long-run.
Foreign or Domestic?
When Considering Foreign Tractors: Top name brands from Russia, China, India, Japan and elsewhere will present themselves as a purchase option for prospective tractor owners. Always be educated as to their aftermarket, as parts can be difficult to come by. For instance, if you’re looking for a 72″ mower and your foreign tractor does not have a mid power take-off (an option common in North America), you’ll be left with a conundrum.
It’s also important to mention that finding parts for some foreign tractors can be incredibly expensive to ship overseas, bloating your ongoing maintenance costs.
Does the foreign tractor you’re considering have a distribution base in your home country? Can the parts be found easily in the aftermarket? Do a quick check to make sure. TractorSpot’s tractor parts listing is a great place to start.
Hopefully, this guide has given you ample insight into how to buy your first tractor. By doing research and pricing comparisons, you’ll undoubtedly be able to find the best choice for your needs.