How to Choose a Compact Tractor

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If you own or small farm or large piece of property, a compact tractor can help you maintain your land. Compact tractors fitted with the right accessories make tasks such as mulching, mowing, bulldozing or shoveling snow easier. Although the upfront cost might make you hesitate about purchasing a compact tractor, a tractor could pay for itself over a few seasons if you otherwise have to hire people or rent equipment. By following few simple guidelines, you'll know what to look for in a compact tractor.

  • Determine how much horsepower you need by deciding what tasks you want to complete. Low horsepower tractors might have a more difficult time with tasks such as plowing snow uphill. Less powerful compact tractors typically have a smaller frame and accept smaller accessories. For example, a more powerful 28-horsepower compact tractor might be able to accommodate a 60-inch dozer bucket. A less powerful 18-horsepower tractor might only be able to accommodate a 36-inch dozer bucket, which is able to move much less earth.

  • Consider future use. A smaller horsepower tractor might suffice for you current needs, but if you purchase more land in the future or move to a larger tract, you might need a more powerful compact tractor.

  • Match the compact tractor's size to the operator's ability and experience. Smaller horsepower tractors have simple automatic transmissions. Many higher horsepower tractors have a manual transmission consisting of a clutch and gearshift. Inexperienced operators should not train on a clutch-driven tractor, and you do not want to roll backwards while working because you can't work the clutch. A smaller tractor with an automatic transmission might make your work take longer, but your experience will be safer.

  • Make sure the compact tractor fits your budget. Compact tractors cost between $2,000 and $5,000. Basic accessories such as a custom seat or a dozer blade range in costs from $200 to $1,000.

  • Compare warranties. Warranties should extend between 36 and 60 months for parts or defects. Some retailers, however, only offer 30-day parts warranties. Short warranties could indicate a used tractor.

  • Decide if you want a diesel-powered or gasoline-powered engine. Diesel engines burn cleaner than gasoline engines, and they tend to wear better. Gasoline engines, however, start easier in extreme cold weather, and generally produce less noise.

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