Tractor auctions are great places to look for used machinery for sale, but among all that used equipment, how do you find a tractor that perfectly meets your farm’s needs? Do you need four wheel drive or a certain horsepower? What about an enclosed cab or front end loader? In this piece, we’ll discuss what to look for in tractors when perusing used equipment for sale in person or at online auctions.
Features to look for at tractor auctions
Engine Horsepower vs. Drawbar Horsepower
Though sales people will often push engine horsepower as a comparison point for tractors, you should really take a look at the drawbar horsepower. You can put a V8 into a Toyota Prius, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to haul the 7,000 pounds a similarly-equipped SUV can handle. Drawbar horsepower tells you how much the tractor can haul instead of the size of the engine.
2×4 vs. 4×4
What kind of land are you working? If you don’t typically end up with traction problems from hills or soft ground, you can probably get by with a two-wheel drive. But if you tend to get stuck, have clay soils that stay wet or similar concerns, knowing you have the additional two wheels of drive can mean the difference between getting things done and being a stick in the mud.
Cab vs. Roll-Over Protection
An enclosed cab can be a very nice thing in bad weather, especially with climate control, but what about the rest of the year? If you have a machine shed that is too low to fit that cab, you won’t be able to protect your investment. Some farmers also prefer a cabless option because it helps them remain aware of their surroundings, including noises from the tractor bumping something, better line of sight and faster response to a problem. At a minimum, make sure your tractor has roll-over protection and a safety belt to protect you during an accident.
Gas vs. Diesel
Gasoline is probably the most commonly available fuel in America, but when it comes to getting hard work done, diesel takes the prize. Diesel tractors are a great option, getting more work out of the same amount of fuel, but their mechanism of action is a little different. Because it uses compression to ignite the fuel, diesel engines tend to be heavier. Because diesel gels at a higher temperature than gasoline, they may require a special blend in northern climates in addition to glow plugs that help start the engine when it’s particularly cold. On the plus side, diesel engines also tend to last longer and require less frequent maintenance than their gasoline counterparts.
Hitches, PTO & Loaders
What kind of hitch does it have? Virtually all tractors today have gone to a standard 3-point hitch, but there are still a few on the market that use a different hitch style that should be avoided as it’s difficult to find implements for them. Similarly, look at what kind of implements the tractor’s PTO can handle – if it won’t run the equipment you need, it doesn’t matter how many other features it has. Lastly, front end loaders are a great convenience on a farm, allowing you to easily handle soil, compost, round bales and similar material.
Once you’ve found your perfect tractor in terms of specifications, it’s time to find tractor auctions that carry them. Many farms find online auctions a better option for finding a tractor that meets their needs, as they can look at tractors from all over the country and then have them shipped, instead of having to settle for a tractor that may not get the job done.