Versatile, compact and fuel-efficient, utility tractors are an ideal machine for acreage and commercial farmers alike. Ranging from the size of a ride-on mower, to traditional-sized tractors, a good utility tractor is capable of doing a multitude of jobs around your property.
Most of the major names in ag—John Deere, Kubota, Case IH, etc.—offer a good range of utility tractors with a variety of features to suit different applications. But what should you be looking for when buying a new utility tractor?
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the things you need to know when buying a utility tractor.
What You Need Your Utility Tractor To Do
First and foremost, what you need your utility tractor to do is going to be the biggest factor in your purchasing decision. There’s no point buying the top-of-the-line, most powerful model if all you need is a tractor for basic property maintenance. So your first port of call is working out exactly what you are going to use it for.
Each brand has their own series, families or classes of tractors. Whether they’re separated by power, size or industry, you’ll usually be able to narrow down your choices by considering the task at hand and comparing that to the available options.
Sizes & Categories
Making sure your tractor is the right size will save you money in the long run. In most cases, smaller tractors are going to be the least powerful while the most affordable.
The smallest of the John Deere utility tractor range, the 1 Family series, features the 1023E and the 1025R which have a 22 HP and a 24 HP engine respectively. While their largest series, the 6 Family series (which has a massive 22 models available!) goes up to 195 HP.
Common Utility Tractor Applications By HP
|0-35 HP||36-70 HP||71 HP+|
Light loading & grading
|Heavy grading & loading
Moving dirt piles, logs & rock
So it’s easy to see that the size of your utility tractor is going to affect its performance and what it brings to the table. Of course, it will also affect the price—from how much it costs upfront, to fuel, maintenance and storage—there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right size utility tractor. So make sure you factor in these other costs prior to purchasing, so you have a better idea of how much it’ll cost long-term.
Possibly the most important step of any purchasing process, is making sure your chosen utility tractor has the specs to handle the work you need it to do.
Make sure you get the spec sheets or product brochures for any tractor you’re purchasing. These can be found on the manufacturer’s website or from your local dealer. Specs should be one of the first things you consult when assessing the work you need to do and whether the tractor is right.
There are a few common specs that will give you the best idea of the tractor’s abilities, such as:
- Engine power
- Bare tractor weight
- Rear wheel ballast
- Transmission type
- Hydraulic system
Of course, there are many other aspects that may be a priority to you, like the cab and seat, so getting a full breakdown of the specs of the tractor is a definite must before any purchase.
Another factor to consider is what sort of attachments you need to use from day to day. Depending on your situation, you may already have an assortment of attachments in your shed, so your new tractor will need to be capable of operating them. Or, if you know you’re going to need certain attachments in the future, you’ll need to make sure your tractor will be capable of using.
Most modern utility tractors will have a 3-point hitch or similar, allowing you to use a large variety of attachments. Just be sure your choice of tractor has the right 3-point hitch for the attachments you have.
The most common 3-point hitches are:
- Category I – found on smaller lawn tractors. Usually providing limited loading or clearing capabilities.
- Category II & Category III – provide more versatility than Category I, which make them a necessity for heavy workloads or larger attachments.
Lastly, you’ll want a tractor colour you can rely on. Choosing the right brand will be a major component if you’re already running a number of other tractors and machines on your property.
Keeping machines of a single brand serviced and maintained is generally easier than juggling multiple brands. It will also help if you are using branded attachments, as many are only compatible with utility tractors from the same manufacturer. Making it a logical choice to look for tractors from a specific brand.
Related: 5 Top Sub Compact Tractor Brands
Of course, if you don’t have any previous tractors or attachments that may limit your choice, then there’s plenty to try out. Each brand has their own benefits and it will often come down to your own preference or whatever is most suitable to your needs and budget.
Not surprisingly, price is going to play a major role in your choice of utility tractor. From it’s upfront cost, to servicing, maintenance and replacement parts, there can be a lot of ongoing costs for a tractor. So ensuring you get one that won’t cost you more than it should is vital, especially if your livelihood depends on it.
Unfortunately, pricing is something that can be hard to pin down, as dealerships may have sales or a new model may be released at any time. That said, good, second hand utility tractors are almost always affordable, and a great way to get a new machine for your property. Or, you can try your luck at a tractor auction.
Think we missed something when it comes to buying a new utility tractor? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think.