Used agriculture equipment continues to grow in popularity as growers seek options that don’t come with long lead times or the climbing price tag of newer machines.
The interest in gently used or nearly-new mid-size tractors – mid-size tractors that are only a year or two old – is especially high, with these units offering low hours, attachment-ready configurations, and an extended warranty. This demand can make it challenging for interested buyers to secure the best tractor.
Whether looking for a near-new tractor or a older, quality used machine, here are five tips to find and secure the best mid-size tractor for your needs.
Related article: 5 tips for buying a used compact tractor
1. Starting the Search
Online is the most common place to begin the search for any type of used agricultural machinery. Interested buyers can start their research by looking at various manufacturer’s websites. Most have good details on features and benefits, and even some comparative analysis information.
2. Find a Trusted Seller
Once a buyer knows what he or she has in mind, the search can continue online. There are several options to find a seller online, from newspaper classifieds to auction websites to equipment dealerships. Of all the options, choosing to buy a used tractor from a trusted dealer partner is one that offers many advantages.
Dealers typically have large inventories of used agriculture equipment, with various hours and features, and price points to meet the budget of nearly every buyer.
Additionally, a dealership’s tractors typically have been cared for and inspected by certified technicians. Before selling, RDO Equipment Co. puts every used tractor through a detailed inspection process, everything from basic maintenance to detailed oil scans, to ensure the buyer is getting a quality machine – with no surprises.
3. Time the Process
The agriculture industry has seasonal factors that affect used tractor availability and price. Industry trends also come into play, so a smart buyer will plan ahead and have a strategy in mind to secure the best option.
Manufacturer programs typically begin near the end of March and run through June, making that the time dealerships see the most trade-in activity.
On a related note, there are times when large batches of nearly-new tractors become available. For example, several state agencies or large growers buy fleets of new tractors, then use them for one year before trading in for new machines. Knowing when this type of near-new tractor influx is about to hit the dealership is a great advantage to a buyer planning a strategic purchase.
Buyers also should keep a pulse on the industry to know additional factors affecting price and availability, such as longer lead times on new machines being the new normal and commodity prices encouraging many buyers to used vs. new.
Related article: What impacted the agriculture industry last year and how does 2019 look?
Watching these trends, tracking the ups-and-downs of comparable used tractor prices, and partnering with a dealer to take advantage of special programs are all good strategies to help buyers best time their search.
4. Machine Details
Once a buyer is ready to zero in on a tractor, he or she can begin to look for desired features and benefits. The importance of features and benefits will vary per person, their expectations, and what truly matters most.
When it comes to the trend of gently used or near-new machines, there are several things a buyer can expect. Those that are used by state agencies or larger farms often come with all the best in-cab comfort features and they’re precision ag technology-ready. They’re also typically equipped with loaders or are implement-ready, one less thing for the buyer to worry about.
Another advantage of nearly-new machines is the combination of low hours and an extended warranty, which transfers to the new owner.
These are all commonly-sought features of a used tractor but the likelihood of finding them in a near-new machine is much higher compared to older tractors.
5. Final Inspection
Before securing the purchase of a used tractor, dig deeper to ensure the machine is a wise buy. This is especially important if buying from a private seller.
Bringing along a trusted expert, such as an experienced equipment operator or service technician, can help make this final step smoother.
Ask to see a full evaluation of the tractor’s maintenance intervals and records showing its complete history. This may include photos, both general shots of the machine, and those that document significant work and repairs.
Next, test out the machine. Look for black, white, or blue smoke coming from the engine, listen for strange noises, feel for rough operation points, notice things that just don’t feel right, and ensure overall functionality of the unit.
Also, do one last walk-around inspection. Signs of wear are normal, but cracks and rust are concerning, and could lead to bigger problems in the future. Also, check for leaks and look for signs that maintenance has been neglected.
Used or Near-New Tractors
While securing a quality pre-owned tractor is a challenge, finding a near-new tractor can feel like hitting the jackpot. Use these tips as a guide to find the right machine. Then, be sure to protect the investment by sticking to a preventative maintenance schedule and have the tractor inspected annually by a trained, knowledgeable service technician.
About the Author
Growing up on a farm in rural Moorhead, MN, Mark Kreps’ agriculture roots run deep. In addition to his farming background, he has spent more than 20 years in the agriculture industry, primarily focused on sales and management. As Vice President of Agriculture Sales, Mark works with customers across the RDO Equipment Co. footprint and around the world through the company’s international partnerships in Africa, Australia, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine. Connect with him on Twitter @RDOMarkK.
Browse listings of used agriculture equipment for sale or learn more about new agriculture equipment from John Deere and other manufacturers. To see all available equipment, visit your local RDO Equipment Co. store.