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The tractor is a must-have workhorse for just about anyone in the agricultural industry, but how do you decide whether a 2WD or 4WD tractor is right for you? Well, to begin with, you’ve got to weigh up what you need to use your tractor for. Most farmers use their tractors for:

  • Ploughing
  • Tiling
  • Disking
  • Harrowing
  • Planting

While both 4WD and 2WD tractors tractors will help you complete these tasks, each have their strengths and weaknesses. So, to help you make an informed decision, we’ll compare the two by looking at their pros and cons, price point, application and usage differences.

4WD Tractor

New Holland Tractor

Pictured: New Holland 4WD T5030 Tractor. Source: Machines4U.

Let’s start by looking at the more popular of the two. As with any four-wheel drive vehicle, a 4WD tractor has dynamic movement of all four wheels, which makes them versatile and perfect for a variety of applications.

With power to all four wheels, it’s no surprise 4WD tractors have better traction to the ground than the 2WD varieties. So, if you’re looking to use your tractor in more than just basic applications, the 4WD will be your best choice.

A 4WD tractor can be used for:

  • Tillage
  • Livestock operations
  • Crop protection
  • Mowing
  • Slashing
  • Haulage
  • Loader applications

So long as you have the right attachments, your 4WD tractor will see you completing more than just basic farm chores—which is great news for your back pocket as you’ll save on buying multiple machines.

2WD Tractor

John Deere 5065E 2WD Tractor

Pictured: John Deere 5065E 2WD 65 Hp Tractor. Source: Machines4U.

2WD tractors operate by a powered and propelled single axle which can be used to carry a range of attachments. These tractors are generally used in dry farming conditions where the operator doesn’t have to worry about overly wet, muddy or sloped terrain.

The key benefit to having a 2WD tractor is the small turning circle, simple design and affordability. Smaller 2WD tractors are the most comparable to the 4WD range but often have a better price point and manoeuverability.

2WD tractors are ideal for:

  • Seeding
  • Pasture topping
  • Fertiliser spreading

They can be used on livestock, orchard, vineyard or crop farms for jobs where manoeuverability and a sharp turning circle are more important than pulling power.

2WD vs 4WD Tractor

Solis 60 Tractor 4WD

Pictured: Solis 60 Tractor 4WD. Source: Machines4U.

Tractor Power

One of the main things to consider when looking at any tractor is the power. As with anything, your needs will determine the horsepower you choose.

For basic farm work, either of the 2WD 0-79hp or 4WD 0-79hp ranges will get the job done. However, according to anecdotal feedback, a 2WD tractor is a better choice if you don’t need the pulling power or traction of a 4WD tractor, and are looking for a cheaper purchase.

If you need your tractor for large-scale projects or work on uneven terrain, 4WD machines in the 101-200hp or 200+hp range shine. The extra traction ensures that the horsepower is not lost, and the bigger engine provides superior torque.

Generally, 4WD tractors are more popular than the older 2WD models when it comes to matching horsepower. Although, according to anecdotal feedback, when it comes to tractors in the lower size and horsepower range both are comparable, with some people even stating the 2WD is a better purchase with lower repair costs.

Tractor Brands Variety

John Deere 4WD Tractor

Pictured: 233hp John Deere Tractor. Source: Machines4U.

While most brands manufacture both 2WD and 4WD tractors, in recent years the market demand for 2WD machines has decreased. So, some manufacturers have stopped making them.

Of course, popular brands like John Deere, Case IH, New Holland and Massey Ferguson still offer both types.

New and Used Tractor Price

According to Machines4U data, new and used tractors can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $272,727, averaging $53,948*. Obviously, there are a number of factors which determine the cost of a machine, including the make, model, use and attachments. But, how does a 2WD tractor compare to a 4WD tractor, in terms of price?

Let’s look at tractors in the same horsepower range, 0-79hp:

As you can see, that’s a significant price increase between 2WD and 4WD models! In general, you’ll find that 2WD tractors are cheaper, as they are often older and don’t have the same features as 4WD tractors.

Although they are cheaper upfront, it’s important to note that servicing for the 2WD models may be higher than a 4WD tractor. Two-wheel drive tractors, especially older models, have shorter service intervals which can increase costs as time goes on. On the other hand, a 4WD model is expensive upfront and can be expensive to service with the newer features and technology found within these machines. Though longer service intervals do save owners money, as it results in less downtime.

Pros and Cons: 2WD vs 4WD

At the end of the day choosing between a 2WD and 4WD tractor will always come down to your needs. But, to help you decide, we’ve weighed up some of the pros and cons of each.

 

Pros Cons
2WD Tractor
  • Cheaper upfront cost
  • Better manoeuverability
  • Good for basic agricultural work
  • Less fuel efficient
  • More wheelslip
  • Less brand variety to choose from
4WD Tractor
  • Better traction
  • More pulling power
  • More fuel efficient
  • Longer service intervals (usually)
  • More application versatility
  • Expensive upfront cost
  • Can be expensive to repair with more technical components in newer machines

There’s a lot to consider when buying a tractor. Whether you end up going with a 2WD or 4WD machine, it’s going to impact your business.

Still trying to decide? Check out new and used tractors here, or try your luck at a tractor auction!


*Prices are indicative of Machines4U listing data by sellers/advertisers and are an approximation only. Data is correct up to and at the time of publishing. Prices may change and need to be verified with individual sellers.

Sources: mytractorforum.com, tractors.pk, homesteadingtoday.com, www.quora.com/advantages-of-a-4wd-tractor, Farmers Weekly

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