Photo courtesy Massey Ferguson
When buying a tractor, ask your tractor dealer if you can take it for a test drive alone. During the test drive, note how comfortable you feel in the tractor and how easily you can maneuver it.
Life on your small farm can get busy with various projects, but having a tractor that can assist you in your daily chores can save you lots of time and energy. However, finding the right tractor that works well with you and the unique needs of your farm is key.
The search for the perfect tractor can be overwhelming. Regardless of your level of experience operating a tractor, a good dealer should give you the help you need in choosing the right model and set you up to test drive the tractor.
Roger Harrod, a Massey Ferguson dealer in Roopville, Ga., who sells a number of compact tractors, encourages customers to test-drive the tractors they are considering buying.
"A consumer shouldn't make that investment without getting a feel for its maneuverability, ease of operation, comfort and power," Harrod says.
He recommends that before purchasing a new tractor (or beginning a test drive), customers should ask their dealer for a full explanation of the tractor and the controls on the model they are interested in purchasing.
"Ask the dealer to review tractor safety features prior to the demo drive. After you are comfortable with operating the machine, it is perfectly acceptable to request that you explore the tractor on your own," Harrod says. "Most people enjoy privacy while test driving, although we are always on hand to provide tips on how best to operate the tractor."
Harrod says customers who do their homework before visiting the dealership are more comfortable completing a test drive and have a better idea of what they need and want in a tractor.
Harrod first points them to TractorAdvisor.com
, a website operated by AGCO, to learn about tractors that will work for their specific jobs and property type, whether it be a perfect sub-compact, compact or economical utility tractor with less than 65 horsepower. The site offers a printable tractor test-drive checklist that prospective buyers can use to set their priorities and rank the models for easy comparison.
He also offers this list of things to look for during a test drive:
• Is the tractor easy to operate? The tractor controls should be within close reach and should limit obstruction during operation. During your test drive, be sure the pedals, handles and controls are easily accessible and feel comfortable to use.
• Do you feel comfortable on the tractor? You will be spending a lot of time around your hobby farm performing various jobs, so it’s important that your tractor is comfortable. Make sure the seat is adjusted correctly and cushioned to your liking. Also, be sure there is enough leg and hip room while still being able to reach levers, handles and pedals. Finally, pay attention to how easily you can enter and exit the tractor platform.
• Is the tractor's maneuverability and responsiveness in line with how you plan to use it? Turn in tight circles with and without the turning brakes (if available). For tasks like loader work where you are making a lot of directional changes, test for smooth forward and backward changes.
• How easy is the tractor to service? Note the essential service points: oil, oil filter, air filter, battery, radiator and fuel.
• Does the tractor meet your specific needs? If you are going to use the tractor in the winter for snow removal and other chores, you may want to ask the dealer if the specific model requires an engine heater. Also, consider lighting. For example, you may need extra lights if you are going to be using your tractor in heavily wooded areas or other dark areas.
• What implements do you need? Ask questions about operating implements and attachments for your tractor such as a loader, mower or backhoe. Try raising the loader up, and dump and curl the bucket. Cycle through the loader hydraulics to test the comfort and responsiveness of the joystick. Test the loader's cycle speeds, which correlate to productivity.
Choosing the right tractor should be fun, easy and satisfying. When you find the right tractor, it becomes an invaluable and reliable tool that allows you to enjoy the work on your hobby farm.