What to look out for when buying a second hand tractor

If you are interested in purchasing a second hand tractor it is important to take your time inspecting the machine, according to Stephen McEvoy, a mechanic at WR Shaw.

With over 15 years experience as a tractor mechanic, McEvoy believes it’s important to thoroughly check the tractor over as well as bringing it for a test drive before deciding to buy it.

“If you are going to spend big money on a tractor the seller should allow you to fully inspect and test drive the tractor, no matter how long it takes.

“You should start at the front of the tractor and work your way back,” he said.

Inspecting the Tractor

Once the tractor has been turned on and is warm a buyer should remove the engine’s oil cap to check whether or not there is an issue with blowing, McEvoy said.

If there is issue with blowing this will indicate that there is compression leaking back down around the pistons, the tractor may still run fine depending on the severity of the problem, he said.

“You should also check the radiator for any damage to the fins and check to see what type of coolant is used.

If the oil in the sump is black and thick this will tell you that the oil in the tractor hasn’t been changed recently.

Moving into the cab of the tractor, a buyer should make sure that all gauges, lights and windscreen wipers are working, as well as moving the steering wheel to see if there is much play in it.

“A farmer should look at both the clutch and break pedals to see if they are worn. They are generally made of steel and and are press plated.

If a tractor has very low hours but the pedals seem to be worn then I would start to get a little suspicious.

According to McEvoy, it is not unheard of for the hours shown on a tractor’s clock to be tampered with, but the hours can be easily verified on modern tractors by plugging a laptop into the machine’s ECU.

At the rear of the machine, special attention should be paid to the lift arms and pick-up hitch.

New Holland T4.105 rear

Similar to the steering wheel, a buyer should check and see if there is much play in the lift arms by lifting them up and down.

With regards to the hitch, a farmer should check that it is working properly, especially if it is a hydraulic extendable hitch by sliding it in and out, the WR Shaw mechanic said.

Meanwhile, a hydraulic pressure gauge can be purchased in a motor factors in order to the check the hydraulic pressure in the back end of a tractor, he said.

McEvoy believes that the most important area to check for damage on a tractor’s tyre is the side, as there will always be some damage in the area where the wheel is touching the ground.

“When checking the tyres you should check for wear as well as cracks and other damage.”

Bringing it for a Test Drive

A buyer will get a better feel for the machine if they bring it for a test drive and warm the engine up, he said.

New Holland

“Some lads don’t bring the tractor for a long enough test drive. It is important to warm the engine and check that it is running properly.

Once the engine is warm and the tractor is changing gears sweetly enough it should mean the gearbox is okay.

In order to check the clutch a buyer can drive the tractor along the road in a high gear, press the brake and clutch and if the tractor cuts out once the clutch is released it will indicate that the clutch is in good working order, McEvoy said.

During a test drive, a buyer should listen out for any suspicious noises from the brakes, the mechanic advised.

If the machine is four-wheel-drive, this should also be checked to see if it engages and disengages properly, he said.

The different PTO options should also be engaged to ensure that they are working 100%. Once the engine is warm any leaks should become more apparent, so it is important to pay close attention once you are parked, the experienced mechanic said.

A second Set of Eyes

When going to view a second hand tractor, a buyer should consider bringing someone else along, he said.

It is always better to bring a second set of eyes with you, as they will be looking at the tractor with a different perspective.

“Sometimes you can become half-blinded with the thoughts of buying the tractor that you could miss something, but it is always better to have someone there that is independent.”

McEvoy also advised buyers not to be afraid to remove panels to get a closer look at the engine as well as getting in under the machine to inspect the undercarriage.

By getting in under the machine a buyer can also check for rust, especially under the mudguards as well the corners of the cab, he said.

Ultimately, it is up to the buyer to decide whether he wants to purchase the machine or not. Some buyers may be willing to overlook some cosmetic damage as long as it is mechanically sound, McEvoy said.