Because heavy equipment is the lifeblood of any farm or ranch, buying used can yield tractors and combines that are in near new condition. Most tractor and combine owners keep their equipment in as good of condition as possible, so the secondary market is an excellent stop for anyone looking for a new addition to their work shed. While most farming implements can be simple to inspect on your own, tractors and combines specifically can be a bit more tricky. To ensure that you don’t get stuck with any hidden problems in your next buying opportunity, we’ve line up some key points of inspection that should never be ignored.
- Compare your the combine’s engine hours vs. separator hours. Significantly longer engine hours warrants a closer inspection of the drive train and transmission.
- Look for signs of wear on larger belts, chains and sprockets. Excessive wear can indicate poor maintenance, or extremely hard use by the current owner.
- Be sure to note excessive play in bearings or slots while inspecting the cleaning shoe and sieve assemblies. Did you notice any spot welds or breakage?
- If at all possible, get the combine started and running for a bit to see if you notice and audible problems like grinding, screeching, or knocking.
- Check the frame. Has it ever been spring or repaired?
- Inspect the hydraulic and oil lines. Leaks here are common and can be repaired somewhat easily, but problems should still be noted.
- Gives the tires a good once over. Are they in good condition, or are they going to need replacing soon?
- Does the cab have a ROPS (rollover protection structure), or a wide enough front-end to protect against rollovers?
- Note any aftermarket additions that the current owner may have installed. If anything has been added, you may want to cross reference or consult with a dealer to see if those modifications can be supported.
- Start it up and drive around the yard if it’s at all possible. You’ll get a greater sense of the transmission and drive train if you’re able to get behind the wheel. This is your chance to note any slippage or shifting issues.
Third Party Inspections
If you’re not able to inspect the equipment yourself, consider providing a list of must-see items to a third party inspection company like WeGoLook. It’s not uncommon for owners to have inspection documents or a mechanic’s history available to potential buyers, but a third party inspector can provide photos and video from a truly neutral position. The folks at WeGoLook.com can also create custom inspections to review any additional implements or accessories beyond the main equipment.
The key to purchasing any previously owned equipment is to do your homework. Investing a little time and effort into research can save you hours of frustration and headaches that come with equipment that doesn’t meet work needs. For more information about buying and selling farm equipment and machinery see our posts on how to import machinery, figuring a fair price for used ag equipment, and using escrow to buy and sell through sites like MachineTools.com.