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What is a Tractor?

By J.Gunsch
Updated May 17, 2024
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In general, a tractor is a piece of heavy machinery that is designed to carry out some type of work. The type of work this equipment can do depends on its size, the type of attachments it has or can support, and the type of tasks it is designed to accomplish. Technically, a tractor can be the engine of a tractor-trailer truck, but more commonly, they are known as personal mowers or those that are used for agricultural purposes. These machines are also used in excavation, in manufacturing and industry or on construction sites.

For personal residential use, a tractor can be a general piece of equipment that can perform a variety of home maintenance tasks. A person can use one for mowing in the summer, landscaping projects, and plowing in the winter. Tractors are also good for hauling materials from one area of lawn to another because their tires are specially designed to not tear up grass and concrete as badly as excavating equipment tends to do.

A personal tractor is usually small to mid-size, powered by a 20 to 80 horsepower engine. The largest used for heavy work can have as high as 200 horsepower engines. Horsepower is the biggest factor in differentiating between the different types of tractors. Their engines are typically powered by either unleaded or diesel fuel, though some can run on grain.

Another key determining factor for a tractor is its versatility regarding attachments and which ones it is able to support. The more options for connecting attachments to the machine, the higher the cost will be. In addition, the engine's horsepower must be considered in regards to which attachments will work efficiently. The most common tractor attachments include front end loaders, mowers, box blades, spreaders, tillers, plows, trailers and backhoes. Most attachments are interchangeable so they can be used with different machines.

In addition to the tractors’ invaluable work, there are many enthusiasts who collect and restore antique tractors, participate in clubs, and hobbyists who collect or build models. Many people even use their machines to participate in recreational sports such as tractor races and tractor pulling.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By SimpleByte — On Feb 22, 2014

@Nefertini - You can often get good bargains on used tractors, including compact tractors. My son is a landscaper, and he uses his tractor to do everything from mowing, mulching, and tilling to snow removal.

By Nefertini — On Feb 22, 2014

A compact tractor is a good option for homeowners and landscapers. They are smaller versions of the traditional farm tractor and can do a lot of lawn or grounds maintenance work. You can buy attachments for them like front-end loaders, too.

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