If you’re shopping for a new tractor, this glossary of 30 tractor-related terms will get you up to speed on all the lingo.
Engines need oxygen to run, and the air filter helps protect dust, dirt, grass clippings and other contaminants from entering the engine.
An old-fashioned, inexpensive tire design offering rugged performance in exchange for a bumpy ride and less traction than radial tires
The frame of the tractor, supporting all of its other parts
Clutch & Gear Transmission
A transmission using a complex array of gears to achieve different speeds and directions of travel. It’s the transmission of choice for activities requiring a specific speed to be maintained (such as seeding) and for use on sloping terrain.
Compact Utility Tractor
Smaller than a utility tractor, but larger and stronger than a garden tractor, a compact utility tractor is ideal for small-scale farmers who need the expandability of a utility tractor, but without the expense, size and power of a larger machine.
Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)
A blend of 32.5 percent synthetic urea and 67.5 percent deionized water, injected into the selective catalytic reduction of diesel engines to break down nitrogen oxides in the exhaust
This metal bar, often removable, is installed at the rear of the tractor. It serves as a hitch for attaching implements such as hay balers and wagons.
Engine Block Heater
A heater installed in the engine to keep it warm and facilitate easier starting in the cold
Typically exchangeable with the bucket on a front-end loader, a forklift attachment allows the tractor to transport round hay bales, logs or pallets of supplies.
An adjustable bucket installed on the front of the tractor, used for scooping and transporting dirt, manure, gravel, snow, tree branches, etc.
This means the engine provides drive power to all four wheels, increasing traction over challenging terrain.
Filters debris from fuel to keep the engine running smoothly. Contaminated fuel can degrade performance and wear out engine parts prematurely.
A high-end riding mower with more power and greater expandability than a lawn tractor
Traditional term for measuring engine strength. Power take-off and drawbar horsepowers are related terms denoting the power available to a tractor for operating or pulling implements.
The fluid-driven systems that provide the means for lifting implements and powering attachments such as front-end loaders and backhoes
A transmission using hydraulic fluid and a variable displacement pump to dr
ive a hydraulic motor
Implement (or Attachment)
A piece of machinery—such as a plow, snow blower or box blade—attached to a tractor to expand its capabilities
A basic riding lawn mower, good for mowing grass and pulling small carts
A filter for removing contaminants from engine oil. Regular replacement is advised.
The use of hydraulics to aid in turning the wheels of a tractor, making steering easier
Power Take-Off (PTO)
A rotating connector, usually at the rear of the tractor, providing power to implements such as mowers and hay balers
An advanced tire design offering a smoother ride and greater traction than bias tires, albeit at a higher price point. They’re less suitable for extremely rugged or hilly terrain.
Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS)
A sturdy frame arching over the seat of the tractor, designed to protect the driver from injury in the event of a tractor rollover
Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)
The system by which diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is released into the exhaust of a diesel engine to break down nitrogen oxides and reduce pollution
A key component in gasoline engines, providing the electric spark needed to ignite the fuel
Typically a diesel-powered garden tractor offering greater expandability through the addition of a PTO and three-point hitch
An industry-standard means of rigidly attaching implements such as plows and mowers to the back of a tractor. Hydraulics allow the implements to be raised and lowered.
This is your stereotypical “tractor,” a full-sized machine offering the strength and versatility to handle any job. Engine horsepower can exceed 100 horsepower.
A specialized lawn mower designed for maneuverability and speed
If you familiarize yourself with these terms, you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision when buying your next tractor.
These tractor companies are a great place to start your buying journey!
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.