Comparing Used Compact Tractors

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Whether you're a business owner, farmer, or laborer (or perhaps all three), saving a few dollars when it makes sense can make a big difference to your bottom line. Compact tractors are among the most common pieces of machinery used in nearly all kinds of light construction or agricultural work. And if you're lucky enough to find quality used compact tractors, you can get the same level of production for a lower initial cost.

However, it's important to know what to look for so you don't end up buying a lemon. Focus your attention on the following.

Used compact tractors: horsepower and workload

The first thing to consider before buying a used compact tractor is what kind of machine you need. The type of work you intend to do will directly relate to the amount of horsepower you'll require.

For work around the home or farm, used compact tractors with a 15 to 30 horsepower (hp) rating should do the trick. If you plan on posting fences or pulling some heavy loads, you may want a machine with a little more strength. Although all-wheel drive compact tractors may handle greater loads, they will require more diesel fuel in the process.

If you're just planning on doing some yard work or occasional labor, a rear-wheel drive tractor will do just fine and save you money on fuel over the long run. In either case, a three-point hitch is a vital component of a useful compact tractor. Most of the time, used compact tractors will come with three-point hitches attached. If you come across a used tractor that has the three-point hitch sold separately, you may want to look elsewhere.

Open the hood

When shopping around for used compact tractors, check out the mechanics of your potential purchase. Make sure it has everything you need and doesn't have any significant problems that could hinder performance. Ask if the oil and coolant have been changed frequently, as well as the oil and air filters. But don't just take their word for it.

  1. Inspect the engine: Cold engines should pick up speed immediately. And watch for black or white smoke. It's okay when you first start it, but if it continues to billow from the engine, you have a costly problem (and most likely a breakdown on the horizon). Blue smoke? This is an indication that the engine is burning through oil.

  2. Look at the battery: Are the terminals clean and free of dirt and green acid build-up? Also watch out for a battery with a low water level.

  3. Pull the dipstick: Though it may have just been changed for sale, the color of the oil will tell you how often it was serviced. If it has a burnt smell, you know it probably wasn't changed at the recommended intervals (the same goes for oil that's black or dark in color).


The tractor you intend to buy should be one that you can keep up with. Compact tractors need a lot of maintenance. Oil changes are recommended after you complete about 50 hours of work. It's also important to replace the filters accordingly and keep the machine well-lubricated so your tractor operates well and lasts a long time.

What you can expect to pay

The brand and model you select will largely determine the cost, with some brands holding their value better than others. In addition, attachments also add to the price and are often sold with the machine as part of a package deal.

Though the manufacturing year is important, it's not your key concern: you want to be on the lookout for hours logged. A 1974 CAT with less than 1,000 hours that's been properly maintained may end up being a better value than a 2012 Case with more than 4,000 hours logged.

On the whole, you can find quality used tractors from major name brands like Agco, Bobcat, Case, and Caterpillar starting around $10,000 for a basic 73 hp model. On the high end, a 2012 175 hp model with relatively low hours goes for between $75,000 and $150,000. There are also a number of used tractors that feature 100 hp for $35,000 to $56,000.

To begin your search for used compact tractors, submit a free BuyerZone request for tractor quotes and get matched to multiple suppliers.

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