What is the best way to find and buy a tractor?


5 year old buck +
I could use a tractor at my place and I am thinking I should buy something sooner instead of later. I would like to purchase something before next spring. I would like a late model (2006 or later), 40 to 60 hp, around 1000 hours or less, with loader and front wheel assist. I have been looking on Craig’s list and Tractor House and was wondering what is the best approach to finding and closing the deal on a tractor? I have noticed that Minnesota generally is expensive compared to other states but I am not certain why. Is there a time of year that is best to buy a tractor (Fall instead of Spring)? How about buying from a private party, would you spend $20k for a tractor from a private party?

Lots of things to think about but I need to get a tractor to help me accomplish the goals I have for my property.
I got our tractor at Greenbergs in Nowthen. They delivered it to our farm in OTC.

70 hp 2 wd with under 250 hours. Paid 16k for it. Sure is nice having a tractor that starts and runs every time we need it.
We spent several years fighting with 4 tractors pre-1970 and were always repairing something.

Havent touched this one since we bought it 4 years ago other than an oil change.

I didn't want to go private party on a tractor. I looked a long time and made the purchase when I found the right one that fit close to what we needed. If you want something by next spring you have a lot of time to sift through lots of options.
I go right past Greensbergs when I go to Minnetonka gun club. I have seen their tractors but have never stopped and looked at them.

Agree on buying something that works every time. Being a remote owner I need everything to work and based on what I see for prices tractors hold their value until they get very old. What I see is buying a unit made in the 80s or 90s doesn’t save allot compared to buying a tractor made around 2006.
I did the same thing as mobuck as far as doing national searches on tractorhouse. probably the best tip you're going to find. www.machinefinder.com is another option for doing national searches.
Greenbergs went Broke. Not there anymore.

And remember, newer tractors break down also. Just not as much as some older ones. The new ones have a lot more electronics to deal with. Those can be a bitch when trying to fix things yourself!

I look at Tractor House to see what things are selling for all over the country. You can see what equipment is priced at in different states. Good Luck!


I thought you might have picked up some good equipment/tractors at auctions? I have not looked at auctions but there has to be some tractors selling at these auctions. A person would have to be able to evaluate the tractor but it could be worth the effort. How do you find the auctions you attend?
Estate sales are good. Mdc has a big auction every yr where they sell all kinds of equipment. Check out their ws I think it's coming up.
There are two primary brands with dealers around me and they are John Deere and Case. I'm looking for a unit with minimum 40hp and it has to have a loader. There is a John Deere 4320 in Mankato that fits my needs and based on the price appears like a good deal but I have not seen the tractor.

Here is the link:


Based on what I am seeing allot of the smaller tractors that are attractive are priced at around 11-13k for units that are 30hp or less and 10+ years older. Seems if your willing to pay 7k+ more you get allot more tractor that is much newer.

Any idea how much $/% a person can get off the price on a used tractor? Can I get 10% or better?
That tractor is priced good, but you will need to take off the Rear Turf Tires, and buy new Ag Tires. Guessing about $1,500.

Here is one up for auction in a week. Low hours, and is located in Alex! Good Luck!

LOL, Figures you’d have one line up. Have you ever purchased something like this online? I suppose it’s anybody’s guess on what it would sell for but I can put in a bid I like and you never know.
Any recommendations on how to bid? I’ll call on the tractor tomorrow but I figure it can’t have to many things wrong with it if it only has 409 hours on it.
If you can find the model you want....in the condition you want.....at an on-line auction, that may be a good way to save a buck. Lots of stuff out there that you don't want to own tho.....IMO. It does take time to locate the right stuff.

I searched tractor house for a long time until I saw my "deal". My 3320 had all the right stuff and low hours at a fair price. I was ready and snapped it up. I passéd by allot of tractors that were close...but didn't quite suit my needs. The point is....you need to do your homework and KNOW what a fair deal is.

I think you will find what you are looking for on Tractor House or Machine Finder.....but you might want to look on sites like Tractorbynet.com which has want adds for member tractors too. I've seen some fair deals come and go on those sites.

Remember too......prices on Tractor House are "ASKING PRICES" and often a lower price can be had by negotiating your deal. Your a good "sleuth" Freeborn.......you will find it if you wait it out.

I think you can find a better deal in Fall than Spring. Buyers are over-anxious in Spring IMO. I think your right about staying with a 6-10 year old tractor. That's where the deals are. Buy a Deere......you'll be happy long after the price pain goes away. ;)
Agree on your price and appreciate the advice. A person needs to be able to walk away and try another day if its not a good deal. I'll take a swing at it, you never know what can happen.

Foggy, good advice and I agree determing what you need is key to making a smart purchase.
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FWIW......after determining a model I wanted......I think it took about 60 days to locate one with the right condition, options, and price. I passed on a few that had the wrong tranny for me....but everything else was right. Be fussy.....lots of popular models out there with all the right stuff. It costs ALLOT to add options.....may as well find one with the right loader, hydraulics, and other goodies you want / need. For example: I'm glad I have the hard lines kit and hydraulic power to the front of my loader to run my grapple. S L I C K.

Some of the hydraulic options cost allot of dough if you need to add them....may as well find one with this stuff on it. Just saying. :D
Looking at tractor I came across this, never saw anything like it. Talk about confusing.

There were actually quite a few of those made in the 50"s. Bobcats weren't yet invented (or at least common) and heavy-duty front end loaders (payloader was a big name) were quite spendy. At that time power steering and heavy duty axels were not real common.....and these loaders could lift bigger loads. Kinda a single purpose tractor / loader tho.
All I can say is everything breaks - sometime. Think of it like buying a vehicle. New is nice, but they often have some "gadgets" on them that you may or may not need and they tend to be made of thinner metal and more plastics. Older equipment still needs attention, but part availability becomes more of an issue. Also consider a brand you can get support on in your area. In my area the closest Case dealer is 45 minutes away, yet there is a JD dealer in every decent sized town around. Also be mindful of off brand stuff - parts and service could a real nightmare. Also remember lots of older tractors are gas and not diesel. Older tractors are typically physically larger and heavier for the engine/PTO hp rating as well. Some older machines lack things like live PTO and rollover protection as well. I went new simply becaue I am no tractor mechanic nor want to become one. I went JD simply because I knew parts and service are easy to find in my area. I found a dealership that was closing a location that cut me a deal so they didn't have to move more stuff.
All the electronic controls on the newer tractors can be troublesome in time to come. Just this week I was clipping my clover......and all of a sudden the tractor stopped. Engine and PTO ran....but no movement fore or aft. No warning.....nothing. Cut some of the weeds and clover back and looked around under the tractor.

I must have ran over a stick which bashed a plastic cover off under my foot pedals. That knocked off both the electrical connectors that control the movement. Plugged everything back in and jerry-riged the cover back in place (plastic fastener is shot)....and saved the day. :) Gotta wonder how long some of those things will last tho......not 50 years like the little N Fords.....I fear.:oops:
I did, I got to 18k and stopped. It sold for 20.2k. If I spend this much I'm going to try and move up in size to something like a 4720.

I'm going to keep an eye on that site and Craig's list and hopefully find a deal this year.
Seems to me.....that the 'cream puff" tractors never make it to auction.....or if they do they command some pretty high prices. Takes a long time to locate the right stuff at an auction, and then go thru the bidding process.....only to pay a big price for the stuff I look for. The internet has evened out the playing field for all buyers.

Perhaps a person should be satisfied with more wear and tear machines.....but I like stuff that is almost like new. No repairs or hidden issues....

Sometimes the private party sales (guys that really cannot afford or didn't really need their purchase) on craigs list.....or dealer trades can be as good of a deal on bigger ticket items.
Agree Foggy, everything comes down to finding the right unit for the right price. I'm not retired so the tractor will sit allot more then be used so Buying new does not make sense but buying old does not make sense either. If I could find a unit that is dependable and fits my needs it doesn't have to be perfect but I would like to be able to sell it in 10 years and buy newer.

What are your guys thoughts about hours on used equipment? If I buy a unit and say put less than a 100 hours a year on it I'll add maybe 1000 hours on it before I retire and upgrade. How many hours on a tractor before you start to affect price in the used market?
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I agree that most of us "food plotters" will never begin to wear out a tractor.....at least the engine, tranny and such. I have never gotten over 120 hours/year on my tractor (most hours were during high stump grinding years). But more hours mean more wear and tear to the electronic gear, plastics, sheet metal, seats and such. If those elements are well cared for and the tractor has 2000 hours or so.....you may find yourself a gem.
In December I picked up a 1958 Ford 841 with a loader for $3400 that was parked at a used car dealer's lot. I needed to have quite a few minor things fixed, but even after that additional cost I'm pretty happy with what I have. I didn't have the budget for the newer 30-40 hp tractor that I really wanted, so I went with an older one with higher hp for my short term fix. Mine has a listed drawbar HP of around 62 hp, which is plenty of pulling power for me. Hopefully I'll get most of my money back if I decide to trade my old Ford in on a newer tractor in the future. I picked up an old JD 3point cultivator that is about 6-7' wide with 13 shanks off Craigslist for $350 and my old Ford can pull it fine. My setup works great for digging up my plots and the total cost was relatively affordable compared to the new prices. Perhaps I'll change my mind later if I have major problems with my tractor, but right now I couldn't be happier.

Next on my list is a 3 point disc and possibly a 3 point 2 row planter. I really like how easy it is to use the 3 point implements in odd shaped and small plots, so I'm keeping my eye out for those items.