5 Simple Steps for Buying Used Farm Equipment

(And how you can easily get started)
Written by Megan Wilson
Written by Megan Wilson

Megan Wilson is a freelance writer, photographer, and a proud farmer's wife. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, she now resides in rural Kentucky. When Megan's not out farming, shooting her D60, she is blogging at cattleandcupcakes.com.

Tractor loading hay on a truck

So, you've got a great piece of land, and maybe a tractor or two, but it's just not enough. Maybe you've got a great tractor, but you need a new implement like a bush hog or a hay rake. Maybe you need an affordable farm insurance policy.

Whatever your equipment needs are, it's a wise idea to get the inside scoop when it comes to buying used farm equipment. Conn Wilson, former manager at John Deere in Richmond, Kentucky, shares his tips for buying used farm equipment:

1. Determine Your Needs and Go One Size Bigger

If you need an 85 hp tractor, get a 90 hp model. If you need a 54" deck, get a 60". It's always a good practice to get a little more than you need. When it comes to equipment, more is better than less.

2. Inspect Items for Wear

Every dealership should allow you to make a close inspection of equipment. There are quite a few places to pay attention to, such as the water pump (bearing), chains, belts, gears, and drawbars, along with tires/couples.  Purchasing a piece of equipment only to have it break down during the first pass through the field can be frustrating. It's a good idea to be familiar with these items and know how to fix them on the go, or know how to spot signs of dangerous wear, Wilson says.

If you're looking to purchase a tractor, pay attention to the hitch. A worn hitch hole can indicate what its work load has been. Tractors live hard lives, so knowing what your prospective equipment has done in the past is a great way to know what it can do in the future.


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3. Pay Attention to the Seat/Drivers Platform

Is the seat worn or weathered? Is the paint missing from high-traffic areas? Typically, you should look for a worn but not weathered seat. Additionally, you should find worn paint where feet and hands have been--pedals, gear shifters, grab handles, etc. This usually indicates that the machine has been used frequently and has been relied upon.

4. Stay Away from "Liquid Overhauls"

According to Wilson, you will want to see a piece of used equipment in as close to "field" condition as possible. Fresh fluid changes can hide contamination problems in engines (such as problems with a head gasket or hydraulic systems) so you want to be on the lookout.

5. Push the Buttons

Push all the buttons. Make sure things work. If they don't work, ask questions or go into it knowing that the non-working component won't function. If you're uncomfortable with something not working, bring it to the salesman's attention, Wilson says. At that point, the salesman has two options: fix it, or make it part of the deal.

Once you've found your next piece of farm equipment, make sure that you notify your indepdent insurance agent so the equipment can be added to your farm insurance policy.

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