Tractor Buying Facts
Are looking to purchase a tractor but aren't sure exactly where to start? Many factors should be considered like what make, model, and size. Each manufacturer offers several sizes of tractors depending on Horsepower, Weight, and Lift Capacity. The best way to determine what size of tractor you need is to determine what primary jobs you will use the tractor to accomplish. Will you use it for mowing and moving smaller objects around or will you need a larger front-end loader that can lift heavier materials often.
Horsepower is a common method by which to gauge a tractor’s size. There are two horsepower terms when talking about a tractor, PTO horsepower, and engine horsepower. Make sure you know which horsepower your salesperson is referring to and if you are looking at different manufacturers you will want to compare apples to apples. PTO horsepower is the better spec to compare because it’s the power that the tractor puts out to do the work.
How much horsepower do I need?
When you are figuring out how much horsepower you actually need in a tractor, match the tractor to the jobs you will be doing. Usually, if you want to run a five-foot cutter, 20 PTO provides enough power. A six-foot cutter will need around 30 PTO horsepower ( not engine horsepower)
There are other variables to consider such as types of implements that will be pulled, the amount of time the machine will work, and what soil type it will be working in. Talking to an experienced salesperson is the best option for help in sizing this type of equipment.
The size of a tractor is not determined simply by its horsepower. Over the years manufactures have experimented with putting high horsepower engines in smaller tractors, and vice-versa. Tractor sizes range from subcompact, compact tractor to larger farm tractor. Major manufacturers, like Kubota, have started grouping their tractors into series to give customers options. Within the series, the tractors will have the same transmission, a few chassis options, and different size engines in them. What this leaves you with is a high-horsepower small tractor at a cheaper cost. This is why comparing tractors solely on horsepower will not represent the tractors accurately.
Here we have broken down the different series within Kubota and how to determine what size they are.
The model number starts with a letter, which designates which series the tractor belongs to. Kubota offers only a few series classifications: B, L, and M.
Kubota B Series -These 20hp to 30hp subcompact tractors are designed for lawns and small farms.
Kubota L Series- These are versatile compact tractors for heavier work, a good option to tackle a variety of jobs. The L series ranges from 30hp to 60hp
Kubota M Series- Larger tractors that are heavy-duty workhorses designed for commercial use, the M series boasts 40hp – 145hp.
X Variations – You will see in any series some models are followed by an X. This tells you that it is the smallest tractor in the line. BX tractors are 20hp, LX tractors are 30hp, and MX tractors are 40hp.
When looking at the model numbers the last two numbers on the end identify the chassis, this is where it can get a little confusing.
If a tractor is 15 years old or newer:
- Older B Series chassis numbers are 20 or 50
- New B Series chassis numbers are 00 or 01
- BX Series chassis numbers are 50, 60, or 70
- Grand L Series chassis numbers are 30, 40, or 60
- Standard L Series chassis numbers are 00 or 01
- MX Series chassis numbers are 00
- M Series chassis numbers are 60, X, or GX (X and GX are 100hp or higher)
Understanding The 3-Point Hitch
The three-point hitch or 3PT is the lift arms on the back of the tractor that allows implements to be mounted on the tractor. Three-point hitches have standard size specifications that are called category, most compact tractors have a category 1. If your tractor has a CAT I hitch, most CAT I implements will be compatible.
On compact tractors, the three-point hitch lifts hydraulically and uses gravity to lower. The important spec you should pay attention to is the lift capacity and how it’s rated.
- Lift capacity behind the end of the balls: This is the max weight the tractor can lift at the end of the lower arm.
- Lift capacity at 24”: This is the amount the tractor can lift 24” behind the end of the lift arm.
We will cover more about lift capacity below but a good rule of thumb to remember that the farther the weight is from the tractor the less lifting capacity you will have.
Lift Capacities and Front Loaders
Speaking of lift capacity often the number quoted is not the weight the tractor can actually lift. Typically, your tractor will be able to transport whatever fits in the bucket but the real question to ask is will the tractor be able to lift the load while performing other functions like extending to full height.
This is where comparing the different types of lift capacity comes into play. Lift capacity varies from; full-height, static lift capacity, pivot pin capacity, bucket center capacity, lift arm capacity, and 24 inches of lift arm capacity.
When shopping for front-end loaders for your compact tractor, don't be fooled by the cheaper “after-market” loaders on the market. The manufacture might make claims but there is a reason the loaders are less expensive. Although the loader might fit a variety of tractors, it doesn't mean that it fits right. This is because every tractor has different hydraulic oil pressures and flows, as well as stress points on the frame. Often these aftermarket loaders don't function properly and can cause damage. Usually, the tractor's warranty is voided if a failure is found due to an aftermarket front loader. Purchasing a performance-matched loader is your best bet as it will save you aggravation and money in the long run.
If you are purchasing a tractor with less than 50 engine HP, it is best to go with a four-wheel-drive tractor. When operating with a front loader four-wheel drive will be the safest and most reliable option when operating. With a four-wheel-drive tractor, the front end will pull itself and the likelihood of losing traction is decreased. Overall having a four-wheel-drive tractor will keep the machine running optimally over time without unnecessary wear and tear, making it a better value.
Types of Transmissions
There are different types of transmissions available on tractors, which can impact the price. Common transmissions include Standard, Hydrostatic, and Hydraulic Shuttle.
The standard transmission is basically what it’s called: standard. Similar to a standard shift car, you step on the clutch and shift gears.
- Standard Transmissions are a great option if most of your work involves operating a rotary mower or pulling a plow.
- Hydrostatic Transmissions have grown in popularity. Hydrostatic transmissions are a simple design, easy to maintain, and durable. In applications like loader work, where you are starting and stopping often, this is a good option while also being time-efficient.
- Hydraulic Shuttle Transmissions are offered mostly on larger tractors where a hydrostatic transmission is not practical. You can usually find this transmission option on tractors from 50 engine horsepower and up.
Total Value & Depreciation
Quality name-brand tractors typically hold a higher market share meaning that they will hold their value better and will be worth more if you go to sell it down the road.
When you purchase a tractor from a trusted, established dealer, Like Bingham Equipment, you get much more than a tractor, you get a quality tractor and support. Established dealers care about their customers and the quality of tractors that they sell. After all the performance and durability of the equipment is what the dealer builds its reputation on. Additionally trusted quality dealers will be there to support you and your equipment needs far beyond the day of purchase.
"Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten"