How to Choose Your Next – or First – Tractor

posted on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 in Tips & Safety

Are you thinking about buying your next or first tractor? On the one hand, you’re interested in the prospect of easing your workload or accomplishing new tasks. On the other hand, a tractor is a major expense, and often a choice you’ll have to live with for a few years.

And if it is your first tractor for your property, you may be considering the used equipment route – after all, your grandfather got along with a 1962 model, didn’t he? Continue reading to find out what type of tractor and attachments might be the best option to meet your expectations.

How big a tractor do I need?

Usually folks think about only a couple of tasks, but owners usually find that their tractor is used for more tasks than they imagined. Talking with a Salesman about the tasks you are considering is key to determining the size of tractor you need.The Liberty Compact Utility Tractor Package - John Deere 4066M

  • Horsepower is often the first thing to consider based on what you can afford and envision using it for.
  • Most utility tractors in the 50 to 100 horsepower range can handle just about everything you’ll do around the farm.
  • Compact utility tractors are sometimes built on a little smaller frame and have around 25 to 50 horsepower.
  • Subcompact utility tractors are generally those under 25 horsepower, but most have all the bells and whistles of their larger counterparts.
  • Don’t forget the physical size of the tractor especially if considering barn usage, such as mucking stalls. Look at the tractor’s dimensions to make sure it will fit and still give working room. Subcompact tractors may work best in this case.

What attachments are most worthwhile?

Utility tractors are all about getting things done and attachments make it happen. There are four most common attachments that will help folks get the most out of their tractor across their acreage: front end loaders, rotary tillers, brush cutters, and finish mowers.

  • Front end loaders help you dig and haul just about anything – dirt and rocks, hay, what-have-you.
  • Rotary tillers do the hard gardening work for you, tilling up the land.
  • Brush Cutters & Finish Mowers are suited for those with landscape to maintain – brush cutters (the “bush hog”, for example) can help clear rough ground and finish mowers turn your subcompact or compact tractor into a mowing machine. There are even mower decks that you can drive over. 
  • Box and angle blades are ideal for maintaining your gravel driveway.
  • And the backhoe is gaining popularity, to clean ditches, replace posts, transplant trees, and for everyone’s favorite activity, demolition.

So, how important is my dealer?

You should be comfortable with the dealer you choose and understand their commitment to providing you future service.  Their ability to provide service after the sale – will help extend the tractor life and protect the value of your investment.

Narrow down thCompact Tractor - Customer & Dealere manufacturers that interest you and then visit the local dealerships; in person or via an online option to ask questions. “Can you demo the unit?” “What kind of financing do you offer?” “What is the warranty?” During the visit you’ll learn about the equipment and you’ll learn a lot about how the dealer treats its customers. When considering dealers, experience and service are two of the most important factors. Most people look for a dealer who has been around for a few years, understands the local environment, knows the business, and most importantly appreciates you as a future customer.

If you know absolutely nothing about equipment dealers in your area, ask around – folks are never short on opinions.

Do I need a cab?

Open-station tractors, that is no cab, are easier to get in and out of, but you will be working outside all the time, with no air conditioning or heat. Would you be comfortable plowing snow outside? How about tilling a field or large garden in springtime or working in the rain? Some people don’t mind, but others would.

  • Open station tractors are the more affordable option, but with that comes exposure to the weather and various allergens.
  • Cab tractors provide comfort and protection from the elements.

Is an older tractor an option?

Yes, but…and it’s a BIG but: Just about any new tractor being produced today will be more comfortable, be safer to operate, and do more than any comparable model made years or decades ago. Plus, today’s engines are more efficient and pollute far less.  Finally, you can’t overlook the value of a warranty with a new tractor purchase.

The diesel-versus-gasoline debate was settled years ago and diesel won. True, gasoline-powered tractors (basically lawn mower equipment, some say) are easier to start in winter. But diesel won on the basis of reliability, available torque, and fuel economy.

An old tractor that has been lovingly cared for still may have plenty of good years left. But remember that depending on the age, parts might be harder to find at your local dealer and more expensive for discontinued models.

Do I need certain tires?

Yes, there’s an additional decision to consider, your tractor’s tires. Tractor manufacturers build equipment to the needs of specific markets. Most offer a choice of turf, worksite – called R4s, - and ag tires.

  • Turf tires are the lease aggressive and are ideal for mowing.
  • R4 worksite tires are harder and resist wear on gravel or asphalt.
  • Ag tires are made for gaining traction in fields, and often recommended for snow removal or bush hog-type work.

So decide on which tire according to the majority of work you’ll do: if 80 percent of the work is on grass, go with turf.  If you are still undecided, the R4 tire is a good universal option, in the compact tractor category.

Will I have to build a shed?

A tractor is made for outdoor work – you can power wash the whole thing – but it is no different from your car. Keeping it outside will affect the longevity of the machine, especially the paint or seating material.

  • The seat is what is mostly impacted by outdoor storage, but most tractors allow you to flip the seat up to prevent them from collecting water and being hit directly by the sun.
  • A shed is ideal, but not required. On the other hand, having an equipment shed also provides you a workspace for other projects beyond equipment maintenance.

How long will my tractor last?

Following recommended maintenance schedules and keep up with minor repairs for maximum life. If you are the fastidious type who dusts his tractor inside the equipment shed, it could go forever. But, the real life answer is probably, “longer than you need it to.” Most repeat customers are replacing their current tractor not because they need to, but because they want one with all the new ‘bells and whistles’.

Dealers can spot a clean tractor a mile away, and they are always looking for trade-in material. Your dealer can work with you on a trade-in deal (similar to automobile purchases) that will reduce the cost of your next tractor purchase.

Sydenstricker Nobbe would love to partner with you on your next tractor purchase and have compact utility tractor packages info and pricing available online here. Our Online Sales Rep is available via email at or by call/text at 636-242-0767. Or as always, call or stop in your local SNPartners dealership, find the closest one here. We are a family owned business with 3rd and 4th generation family members still working in it today to exceed your expectations as a customer and we are always here to answer any of your questions or resolve any issues. Sydenstricker Nobbe John Deere is Your Partner for the Land!

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