5 Steps to the Tractor Buying Process
* This post has been sponsored by KIOTI Tractor. All views and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal experiences.*
Looking to buy a tractor? One thing that I’ve noticed is that there is no reason to know anything about a tractor unless you already have one or think you might actually need one. Then, it is time to learn as much as you can to ensure you are buying the best piece of equipment to suit your needs. A tractor is not only a significant financial investment, but it is a vital tool around the farm. You will be spending numerous hours working your property with it, so it is imperative you get the right machine and are happy with your decision.
When we started the tractor buying process, there was no clear front runner. We spent a few months researching, engaging in different tractor forums, watching videos, and meeting with different dealers in our area.
Like most things, tractors are not one-size-fits-all. Just like you wouldn’t buy a sedan to tow a trailer, or a 3500 dually for a city commute, you need to find the right tractor for YOUR land.
In order to accomplish this, I’ve broken down the process of tractor selection into 5 key steps and defined our take on each step in the process:
1. Know your acreage and determine your primary need(s)
First things first - how much land will you be working, and what will be the primary function of your tractor? To answer this question, start with where you see your land in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years, and write out what needs to be done to get there. This will not only determine the horsepower range required to get the job done, which will narrow your search down to a specific class of tractor, but it will also determine what implements and features you will need - more on that later.
We live on 14-acres, which was completely wooded when we purchased it. Since then, we have cleared about half of our land. So, for us, we knew we were going to have to:
- move thousands of yards of mulch after the property was cleared
- remove fallen trees
- build fences and animal shelters
By outlining our project list, we were able to determine the size and model, as well as features and options that would be best for us.
While you need to set your overall budget, the more important question might be what you would be willing to pay monthly. Most tractor purchases are financed and paid off over time. A wise man once said “you will never regret buying a bigger tractor,” and while that may be true, we all have to work within our own financial constraints.
For our needs, we determined that we wanted a tractor in the middle of the compact class (typically 25-65hp) and began looking at 35-50hp tractors. In the end, we decided on the KIOTI CK4010SE over the KIOTI DK4510. For us, getting the added creature comforts of the SE model (see below) outweighed the extra size and horsepower of the DK and allowed us to stay within our budget.
Worth noting as it relates to budget is to also consider what implements that you need and be sure that in addition to a capable tractor you also have the tools and attachments to do the jobs at hand. We purchased our tractor along with a hydraulic grapple, box blade, auger, and landscape rake. Since the purchase, we’ve added a PTO spreader and brush hog. We use ALL of these implements regularly, and we still have many more on our ‘wish list.’
3. Features and Options
Like a car, tractors can come with options and trim packages, so it is important to determine your top features when looking at the different options. Below is a very brief roster of some of the items to consider, but there are so many choices. Take your time and evaluate what will benefit you the most in the long-run – go back to your list of projects from step 1 to make sure you can accomplish your goals.
- Front-end loader
- 2wd v. 4wd
- Cab v. no cab
- Transmission type
- Power Steering
- Rear remotes
- Cruise control
- Single Lever Joystick
- Dual pedals
Don’t let this overwhelm you. Take your time, talk to the dealers about the various options, and find the right balance between budget and features.
At the outset, we knew we wanted a front-end loader and 4wd, and through the shopping process, we quickly learned that we also wanted a hydrostatic transmission and did not want to have a cab. As I mentioned earlier, we opted for the SE model of the CK4010. This is equivalent to buying a ‘loaded’ vehicle. The SE comes standard with features like tilt-steering, rubber floor mats, and armrests, but also has bigger conveniences like cruise control, electric PTO, and telescoping rear links. In the end, all of these ‘bells and whistles’ really make for a great user experience and an easier day on the farm.
4. Local Dealers
Your local dealer is important. While there are third-party tractor service companies that will service your tractor, having a good relationship with your local dealer will make this process much more enjoyable. Like any machine, tractors need work and maintenance, so while the model and brand of a tractor is critical. Having a reliable resource to service and repair your equipment is also very important.
We are fortunate to live in an area where there are dealers for each of the “big brands.” This gave us the opportunity to meet with them all, ask questions, and test drive their tractors.
The KIOTI Tractor dealer made us feel right at home. He did not rush us to make a decision and took the time to not only answer all of our questions but taught us all of the ins and outs of the CK4010SE. His main priority was to make us feel comfortable and educated. The sale was just a bonus for all of us!
5. Test Drive
After all of your research, combing through the options, and narrowing down your choices, go take a test drive. Take multiple test drives of different brands if you’re undecided. Drive different models from the same brand. Experience different transmissions and features on the model that you’ve picked. Be sure of your decision.
After much research, we test drove two brands of tractors. Once we decided on a brand and model, we test drove both the manual and hydrostatic transmission KIOTI tractors.
From the beginning, it was a top priority that both Drew and I felt comfortable handling the tractor. At the end of the day, we are a team and I certainly was not going to let Drew have all the fun by being the sole tractor driver of the family! While Drew was comfortable with both transmissions, the ease of the hydrostatic transmission was my preference. Having 3 petals – forward, backward, and a brake, power steering, and a single lever joystick made all the difference in making our KIOTI tractor easy and safe for me to operate.
I could go on-and-on about tractors and the buying process, after all, we spent about 60-days doing our research, but I’ll stop for now and just say this – we’ve had our KIOTI for about 18-months and several hundred hours of seat-time. We’ve been to the dealer multiple times for routine service, and we don’t have a single regret about our decision! I hope this has helped you and I wish you well in your tractor buying process. Let me know if you have any questions!