Buy Your New Tractor From Your Local Dealer
Buying a tractor is not the same as buying a car, computer, or other commodity. There are aspects of the
tractor industry that make it unique, and first time tractor buyers need to understand these differences
to ensure a good buying experience. The Internet is a great tool for finding information about equipment,
discussing equipment with others, looking for used equipment, and locating a local dealer. But, when it
comes to buying NEW farm equipment, your best bet is to make your purchase from a local dealer.
Many first time buyers assume that buying a tractor is similar to buying a car. People who aren't familiar
with farm equipment usually don't realize that it is very important to match the tractor to the attachments
that you plan to use, that tractor operation is not standardized between manufacturers, and that tractor
dealers are critical for getting your equipment serviced.
A tractor isn't much use without attachments. The attachments accomplish the work, while the tractor provides
the power and the transportation. Therefore, the tractor that best suits your needs is the one that works well
with the type of attachments that you need. There are a wide variety of attachments, and working with a good
dealer is the best way to determine what will work for you. The dealer should ask questions that help you
determine things like "Will a rotary cutter work, or do you need a finishing mower? How wide does the mower
need to be? Do you need a front loader, a blade, etc.?" If you don't have good answers to these and other
questions about your attachment needs, you may find after you made the purchase that the tractor you bought
doesn't work with the attachments you want.
After determining the appropriate attachments, you can determine the tractor features. Many options such as
transmission, horsepower, and PTO engagement must be considered. For instance, the PTO (Power Take Off) is the
mechanism that a tractor uses to apply the power of the tractor's engine to whatever attachments you are using.
For example, if you are using a rotary cutter, the cutter blades are hooked up to the PTO shaft of the tractor
so the tractor engine can spin the blades. There are several types of PTO engagement mechanisms available.
The one that is appropriate for you depends on the attachments, and how you will use them
In addition to matching attachments to the tractor, understanding how the tractor operates is another reason
to work with a dealer. When you get into a car, you know that the clutch will be on the left, the brake is in
the middle, and the gas is on the right. If it is an automatic, you know the shifter will be in "PRND12" order.
With a tractor, however, none of these standards apply. There are many types of transmissions, hydrostatic,
constant-mesh, shuttle, GST, and more. Each of these operates differently, and even a particular type of
transmission will operate differently between manufacturers. A good dealer will explain how to hook up the
attachments, how to engage the PTO, how to shift gears, and other operational issues. Without a good
understanding of how to operate your tractor properly, you run the risk of injuring yourself, or the tractor.
The last and possibly the biggest issue is servicing. Farm equipment dealers get paid for warranty work at a
fixed rate from the manufacturers. Most dealers will tell you that what they get paid basically covers their
costs. They look at warranty work as a fact of doing business, but not profitable. If you bring a tractor that
is under warranty to a dealer that you didn't buy it from, he will not be very interested in working on it.
Since the dealer doesn't make any money on warranty work, and he didn't make any money from your tractor
purchase, he has no reason to work on your tractor. The agreement that the dealer has with the manufacturer
may or may not require him to work on it. If it does, he will put it in the back of the line behind all of
the people that bought equipment from him. You may eventually get the work done, but it will take quite a while.
In the case of a manufacturer's recall, it may be even harder than warranty work to get it done by a dealer
that you didn't buy the equipment from. The dealer probably only got enough parts from the manufacturer to
do the recall work on the equipment that was bought from him. So, he may not have enough parts to do the recall
work on your equipment. He will most likely wait until all of his local customers are done before agreeing to
work on your equipment. He doesn't want to risk running out of parts for his customers, or tie up money by
ordering parts that he may not need.
Another advantage to buying from your local dealer is that they usually have the ability to deliver or pick-up
your equipment. Unlike a car, you can't just drive your tractor to your dealer for service. Many local dealers
will pick-up and deliver equipment if you purchased a new tractor from them. This can be a valuable service
for a homeowner who doesn't have a trailer or truck big enough to haul their own equipment.
When you look at the extra value that your local dealer provides, saving a few hundred dollars by buying a
tractor from out of state is not worth it. A local dealer can make sure you buy the right equipment, show
you how to operate it, and keep it maintained for many years.
Buying NEW equipment out of state is different than buying USED equipment. Used equipment is probably already
out of warranty, and your local dealer won't have a problem working on it for you. However, the comments
about choosing the right tractor still apply. If you are familiar with tractors, and get an operators manual
with the purchase, you should be fine. If you are a novice, you should still work with your local dealer to
buy used equipment.