Should I Buy a New Tractor or a Used One?
Purchasing farm equipment is often a major investment. For this reason, you want to get the best return for the cost. When it comes to tractors, there are a lot of reasons to consider purchasing a well-maintained used tractor rather than going with a new one. At the same time, a new tractor may be in your best interests. Here are a few considerations to help you decide which option is right for you.
One of the first points to consider is the reality of new tractor depreciation. As with cars and trucks, that new tractor will begin to decrease in value the moment it is delivered to your farm. While this may not be a big deal if you plan on keeping the tractor for only a short time, it can be a major concern if you hope to recoup your investment by selling the equipment in six months or so. If that is your goal, then go with a good quality used tractor. You will come closer to recovering your investment and possibly making a little more if you have made some improvements to the unit.
One big benefit of purchasing a new tractor is the tax breaks many nations allow on farm equipment. However, keep in mind those tax advantages may only be available if farming is your primary vocation or at least makes up a significant amount of your total annual income. Before spending a lot of money on a new tractor, check the tax laws that apply in your area. If you do not qualify for significant tax deductions on the new equipment, you would do well to purchase a good quality used tractor instead.
Understanding how the tractor will be used is another important consideration. Do you have a small garden, perhaps no more than five acres or so? If that is the case, you will put relatively little wear and tear on the equipment; a good used tractor will cost less and do just as well. On the other hand, if you are a professional farmer with hundreds or thousands of acres to cultivate and harvest, you will want something built to last and in top working order. In this scenario, it may pay you to get a new tractor that comes with a solid warranty and maintenance contract.
Fortunately, you do have one other option to consider. It is possible to purchase refurbished as well as restored tractors that are reliable name brands. Such industry giants like John Deere® and Farmall® are often good sources of both new and refurbished equipment. Check with local dealers on the availability of refurbished units; they often are available at prices similar to used tractors, but have the additional benefit of a limited warranty and possibly even a limited service contract.
@browncoat - If you have neighbors in a similar position to yours it might be worth going into a co-opt to buy a tractor. Most smaller operations aren't going to need to use one every day, so it can definitely be worth checking that out.
Do bear in mind that the planting season will be the same for you and your neighbors so you need to have a pre-settled agreement as to what you'll do when you both need it.
@pleonasm - I wouldn't rely on that, to be honest. The problem with anything secondhand is that you don't know how it's been treated by the previous owner or owners. And even if the company has given it a long term guarantee, that might not hold up if it switches hands, or if you can't prove that it hasn't been altered before you bought it.
Secondhand tractors are generally not a bad investment, but have someone who knows what they are doing to check it out thoroughly before you even consider getting one. A new farm tractor is a huge amount of money and if you aren't sure it's better to just rent one or borrow one from your neighbors than to make the commitment.
Tractors are one of the few things in this life that are genuinely built to last. A really good brand will keep working without a hitch for 30 or more years. If you are planning to keep your farm going for that long or longer and you have the money to spend on a new tractor, then get a new one.
But if you don't, then I don't think there's much danger in getting a used one, as long as you make sure it's in good condition. Often the big brands will give their machines long term guarantees so even if the tractor is a few years old, it might still be covered.
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