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July 2, 2019What to Look For When Buying a Used Tractor

If you’re in the market for a tractor, buying it second-hand is a cost-effective way of finding a machine that suits your specific requirements. However, scouring the used market for a tractor can be tricky; you have to take extra caution before committing to the sale. To maximise your chances of finding a used tractor which won’t let you down, take a look at some of our top tips.

Vector image of a blue tractor

Maintenance and appearance

You can get a good impression of the condition of the tractor simply by carrying out a visual inspection. A poorly maintained machine will show signs of wear and tear, and these visual signs could indicate further underlying mechanical issues. Things to look out for include:

  • Bodywork Look out for peeling paintwork, scratches, dents, broken lights.
  • Tyres — Signs of  bulges, weathering and cracks suggest that, if you were to buy the tractor, you’d be needing brand new tyres not long after. If possible, test the tyre tread depth and make a note of any clear signs of wear and tear.
  • Interior — Don’t forget to check the interior as well. You should expect to see some signs of use, but anything which compromises your comfort or safety while in control of the tractor should be a turn off.
  • Dashboard — Check the dashboard and the electrics to make sure it all functions as it should, paying particular attention to the guidance system, if there is one.

Usage and repair history

Tractor 2 Usage and repair history

You’ll be able to learn a lot from a tractor’s usage and maintenance history. Ask as many questions as you need to when inspecting the tractor. Ask what type of work it has been used for, how long it’s been in use for, details of any past issues — large or small — and make sure to ask if the owner has their maintenance records available. Get as much insight into the tractor as possible and proceed with caution if the owner seems unwilling — or unable — to provide you with the information you need.


The tractor might look fine, but you won’t know how it runs until you start it up. Test the tractor to see if it runs reliably. Keep an ear out for any unusual noises — grinding or knocking, for example — and check what colour smoke is being exhausted. Different smoke colours can represent different issues:

  • White smoke on startupThis is pretty common and should clear up quickly once the engine warms up.
  • Black smoke — A sign of unburnt diesel, suggesting a fault with the injectors or the fuel pump.
  • Blue smoke — A sign that the engine is burning too much oil, typically a signal of worn/broken piston rings.

Also, make sure to look under the hood for any signs of leakage or damage to the engine and surrounding components.

Tractor Engine blowing black smoke illustration

Power take off (PTO)

Give the PTO a test run, making sure it operates smoothly at all speeds. Listen out for unusual noises and inspect it for any obvious signs of damage or wear and tear. Be sure to find out if the PTO shaft is suitable for your requirements, and it will be able to run the different attachments you need it to.

Test drive

When buying a used tractor you need as much peace of mind as you can get before putting any money down. That’s why a test drive is essential. If possible, put the tractor through its paces to make sure it fits your needs. By getting some hands-on experience with the machine, you’ll be able to quickly figure out if it’s up to scratch.

Test out the steering, the dashboard controls, traction and everything you can feasibly test before making your mind up. You need to be sure that the tractor you’re buying is worth it or not — or else you’ll be facing some hefty repair bills to fix problems you otherwise wouldn’t be aware of.

Tractor Test drive illustration

At Treadfirst, we supply and fit agricultural tyres for tractors of all makes and models. We are on hand to advise should you need brand new tyres for your tractor, with our experienced team ready to help you find the ideal set for your specific requirements. To find out more, give us a call or contact us today.

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