How To Evaluate A Used Tractor

How To Evaluate A Used Tractor

[music] Neil from Messick’s here. We’ll have a short
conversation today about some of
the things to look at if you’re considering
a used tractor. Take a walk with here
me around this L3800. We’ll give you some of the tips
and tricks that we use in evaluating the value of
a used piece of equipment. Some of the very first things
we are going to look at when we are looking
at a piece of equipment is how well
it was maintained. A lot of the places
that we can see that are in the loader itself. So if you come down here with me,
down at the loader pins, we’re going to look around
the loader pins for grease. For the most part,
when we look at machines we don’t necessarily want to find
something that’s too clean. Believe it or not, a machine is too clean
it’s almost more concerning than the one that has
got dirt in the right places. In the case of this one,
if you look right down here at this pivot pin, you’ll see that there’s grease
around it that is coming out the sides and that’s great,
that’s what we want to see. It means that a customer had been taking a grease gun and greasing these pins, making sure
that they weren’t wearing. If we take our loader here
and lift it up in the air, you’ll see that
I can take this wiggle left and right,
wiggle it up and down and not get any kind of slop
or bounce in these pins. This tractor has about
600 hours on it and the owner took
really good care of it. There is really no detectable
slop in here at this point but you may go and look
at other machines, I can think of another
one of these that I had. It was exactly
the same model where a customer
didn’t grease it all, it was really hard
on the loader, and actually wore
these pins so badly that they could fall
out of their holes. You can see huge
amounts of variation in the same hour
of the machine, just depending on whether
a customer greased these at every 10 hours like
they are supposed to or not. Another thing that we
can check on the loader is if everything
is straight and true. If we eyeball down
the sides of the machine to make sure that
the arms don’t seem to be tweaked
one side or the other. We also want to check our
skid steer quick coupler as well. If we come over here to our coupler
and pull our handles up to release the pins out at
the bottom of the bucket, we’re going to check and make sure
that everything is straight, nothing is tweaked on the coupler
or that the pins were broken off. Sometimes what we will see is when
customers don’t even couple their buckets onto their loaders properly, as in they can burst the tips of these
pins off down here at the bottom. That would happen from the pin
not dropping down and engaging fully
in the quick coupler, and would also tell us typically that
the customer’s banging around down here or something. Every once in a while too you
can see one of these where somebody was running
without the bucket on, and then may have crashed
something into the loader and managed to quick tweak
this coupler one way or the other. Taking the coupler
off of the bucket, eyeing up the pins and making
sure nothing was tweaked tells you whether everything
down here is straight and true and in
good condition. Another thing that we could
check here on our loader is to run through
all of our functions, make sure everything
works properly, and then use the loader to pick up
the front tires off of the ground. That’s going
to tell us that we don’t have a cylinder
that’s leaking internally or a valve
that has problems. We just start
the machine up here, throw the bucket back around,
and then lift. You can see we can pop the front
end right up in the air, set that back down again, and run through
our functions there. This one is also going to
have a float function on it. If we come up and we press
the whole way forward we got a detent that lets
the bucket drop to the ground and a speed dump position
that will be back here to the side and down. Everything seems to move
and function just like it’s supposed to. If we move on here
to the tractor itself, we are going to
pop the hood and go around here and check
our fluids underneath. A couple things that we would want
to watch for down here again is just the general care
that was taken on the tractor. When we are looking
at radiator screens, we never like to see grass and crap
packed up against this thing, meaning that the customer
wasn’t taking care of the machine. If we check the
radiator level over here we want to make sure that our fluids are
sitting right about full, that we don’t have
a leak or something there. We check our battery terminals
and make sure there’s nothing here that’s badly corroded that’s going
to cause a starting problem. There’s a couple of things here that
we are going to check on the engine. First thing we’ll look at is
down here at the filters. This guy was really meticulous
and cared about his tractor. We placed him
with Kubota oil filters, which we always like to see, and he actually wrote the hour
meter that he changes filters at right here
on the filter. He did the same thing too
at the fuel filter as well. Kubota’s original filters from the factory are
typically painted grey. Once a tractor passes
50 hours it’s when its first
major service is due. If we go look at a really low hour
trading like a 200-hour machine if we see a grey
filter on here, that means the customer never
did their original service. It’s something that will typically
cause us some amount of concern. Beyond that we
are looking for clean filters typically with
numbers on them is stuff that we can compare to
the hour meter to tell whether the customer was keeping up
with their maintenance or not. When we check the dip
stick for the engine oil right down here, usually we are
going to do this twice. We’ll check the
dip stick once before starting the engine, to get an idea of where
the engine oil level is at, if it’s where it belongs. This one sitting right
at the full mark. Then we’ll start the tractor up and
check the dip stick a second time. When we do that, what we are
looking for the second time is any kind of froth or anything
on top of the engine oil or on the stick
that could indicate that there is a problem
in the head gasket allowing antifreeze
down into the engine. Moving along through
the engine here we are also going
to check our air cleaner. If you can’t tell we are
going through just a lot of the daily maintenance
stuff that you would do on any machine that
hopefully you own. We are going to
open up the air cleaner, pull up the element
and make sure was the customer changing
his air filter like he’s supposed to. If you see one of these
that’s really packed with dirt, again, it’s going to be something that’s
going to cause you some concern to maybe dive in
a little bit deeper and take a closer look
at the health of the engine, if you are seeing these
daily maintenance things that just weren’t
taken care of. On the tractor itself we are going to run through
all the tractor functions to make sure that everything
is working like it should, particularly in the area
the transmission and the brakes. When we start
the machine up, we are first going
to test the transmission and see if the transmission
is good and strong. In this case, I’m going to
push down the brakes and take the hydrostatic peddle and drive against
the breaks on purpose. You see I can stall
the transmission now and stall the tractor. It would be concerning
if I couldn’t do that. If the transmission doesn’t
have enough power in order to stall
the engine out it, means it’s not healthy. It’s slipping
and losing pressure in some manner, it could indicate that
you’ve got bad hydrostatics. Once we’ve made sure
that our hydrostatics or gear drive transmission
is in good shape we’re going to go through the rest of
our transmission functions as well. In the case
of this tractor, we’ve got a low medium high gear
selector in our ranges. Generally, we would want to start
the tractor and drive through each one of those
ranges to make sure that all the gearing
is working properly. We would also typically
want to turn on the PTO. In this tractor, we start the machine
and engage the PTO and just check that the rear PTO
is spinning like it’s supposed to. Really, we are not doing
anything more than sitting down on the machine and
walking the tractor through each of its functions to try to detect
any kind of mechanical problems. If we hop around
the back of the machine, we could check around
the three-point hitch as well and make sure that we
are not missing anything. In the case of this
machine right here, I traded it and I missed
the top link, apparently. We have our lower links down
here at the bottom but we should have a top link up
here at the top of the tractor in order to detach the top portion
of our three-point hedge. Fortunately, in our case you could pick
these things up fairly inexpensively, but we are missing three-point
hardware back here and so we are not, at this point,
able to hook up and implement to the rear. In hydrostatic tractors we always want to put an eye on
our transmission fluid level as well. Most machines you are going
to find a dipstick down here at the rear
of the tractor. In case of this one it has a sight
glass up in where your feet sit, but always make sure that,
particularly in hydrostatic tractors, that the transmission level
is good and full upwards as is supposed to be so that
the transmission hasn’t been running dry. Keep an eye on that. Another thing that
we will look at too, related to transmission when
we walk in someone’s garage we are always looking
underneath the tractor to see if there are
any puddles on the floor, letting us know
that there is a gasket or something that’s leaking
underneath the machine. Having to replace
a set of tractor tires can be really costly
on a machine like this. To put new tires on
all the way around would cost nearly
$2,000. We always want to go around
and put eyes on the tires, looking for things like big
chucks that may be missing, or if we look at our
side walls and stuff, if we start to see a lot of checking
and stuff in the sidewalls it could mean that the tires
are dry, rotting and aging. Those are the kinds of
things we’re looking for. Making sure it’s not flat,
well inflated, not checked and not having
a whole lot of chunks out of it. If a tractor is equipped with
a rollover protective structure, a ROPS, we always want to
put eyes on the ROPS and make sure that the customer
hasn’t drilled any holes in it. This structure is actually
a certified structure and if we take a drill
and drill holes in it now, we can no longer
be confident of its ability to stop
the tractor from rolling over. That creates a real
liability concern for a dealer or anybody
who’s reselling a tractor, because if that
machine were to roll and something with
the structure would go wrong, you could be
found at fault. If a tractor is
equipped with one, we always want to
make sure it’s there. Periodically we’ll see people with
tree branches removing the ROPS. We want to make sure
we always have it. We want to make sure that
it hasn’t been modified in any way. You can see
this gentleman here, when he put a work light
here on the back, chose to do with
U-bolts and zip-ties as opposed to drilling holes through
the ROPS to put his lights on. Really intelligent move, typically if we see that,
a missing roll-bar or one with holes in it, we do figure into
the course of the trade the expense that it takes to replace
and put a new roll bar on the machine. That’s some of the things that we look
at when evaluating a used tractor. If there’s anything that
you could add to our list let us know down
the comments below. We are always looking
to sell equipment, if we can help you with the purchase
give us a call at Messick’s. We are available at
800-222-3373. We are also available for any parts
or service needs you may have as well. [music]

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. First I would to say I really like all video's that you put on. Second is check lift arms to make sure they don't drift down and if you can hook the pto and make sure it will run at load

  2. Do you have any tips on evaluating a gear tranny on a used tractor? Esp one of the fancier ones- powershift; partial powershift, etc. Nowadays some have so many features/functions it's hard to know where to start!

  3. I bought my M7060, the used ones were only a little cheaper. The joke about Kubota stuff is you can buy it new, use it hard for 5 years, then sell it for 80% of what you bought it for. Its actually about true lol.

  4. Great video as always; quick question about the ROPS: say you were to weld light brackets onto the side of it would that be acceptable or should you attach them the way they were attached to the tractor in the video (U-Bolts and Zip Ties)?

  5. I watch your videos from time to time , I recently bought a new M7060 from my local dealer (James Short tractor) in Carnesville Ga . Thank you for taking the time to do videos .
    Mike Holloway
    Watkinsville Ga

  6. Good video, Neil. Always check the electrical system. A voltmeter and flashlight should go on every inspection. If the battery isn't at a nominal 12.5 VDC and 14.5 charging from the alternator that can be an expensive repair. I know from experience.

  7. I work as a diesel technician, so maybe it's just me, but another thing I do is ,pull the value cover off. I then start the tractor and check for fluid leaks or for fluid in places it shouldn't be. I also check to make sure that the rocker arms, valves, and injectors are functioning properly. Usually just by doing those few things you can tell how the engine was used, if there is any major internal problem or if any gaskets are leaking that could cause major failures.

  8. Tomorrow I plan to see a tractor that the guy is willing to deliver. The question is, how do I pay him and know that he's not just gonna keep my money and tractor? Should I have him follow me home before I pay him? It makes me think from his end whether he would feel right with that?

  9. I would add checking all safety equipment – PTO shield, operator presence switch functional and neutral start functional. Good job overall and most customer now want a machine that is reliable, fully functional and safe

  10. I'd like to add, if raising the hood, look for wiring that has been damaged by mice. If running the engine, use a digital voltmeter to check battery voltage before starting is at least 12.5, and that charging volts after starting are more than 13. When I bought my otherwise clean Kubota, I later found the alternator only produced 11.5 volts, and the battery would not start the tractor if the headlights were on because it was under charged. The new battery should have raised a flag.

  11. Because It's a Diesel Engine I would reach around the Engine Bay when I First arrive and check to see if its "Hot" and then I would do research on that particular tractor and listen to the cold starts and determine how well it starts then if it's 75 ish. I would then feel the engine and go ok it's cold and crank the tractor over. How long did it take to crank over, and are there any fast spots in the engine during starting a properly maintained diesel should start in 60+ weather WITHOUT glow plugs. If it's hot when I reach around and it's 70 out side ask if it's hard to start or why the engine is hot. also feel the fluids by wiping them on your fingers are they hot or cold. just an additional thought great Video

  12. One thing i can think of that i had a problem with is ant leaking around the front axle, it holds it's own oil throughout the front axle, and seals do go bad on occasion, you will see oil around the front steering axle and joints.

  13. Hydraulic hoses, for sure, then axle, pto, Coolant hoses, water leaks(water pump), etc. great video, info, thanks for sharing.

  14. I love these videos. I move to a rural area about a year ago and will be looking for used in a year or 2. Great info!!!!

  15. You said anything to add to what to look for when buying a used tractor. If it's a diesel, always check for blow by. Take oil filler cap off with engine running and look for smoke coming out of hole. Gently place cap back on but do not tighten. It it sits there that's a good thing. If it dances around walk away or offer scrap price.

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