Buying Your First Tractor

Buying Your First Tractor

First time buyers looking for compact tractors for sale are often confused as to which tractor will be best for their needs. We’re here to help!

buying your first tractor

Before visiting us to look at Massey Ferguson subcompact and compact tractors, why not sit down and draw up a list of the tasks you’ll use your tractor for? That will give you a better idea of what size and type of machine you’ll want to keep in your shed.

Maybe all you’re using right now is a regular riding mower. Well, if you’ve got more than two acres to mow, we expect you’re spending a lot of time out there cutting grass.  And if you are mowing uneven terrain on a riding lawn mower, you’re taking some unnecessary risks.

Plus, what about all the other tasks needed to keep the place up? If you’ve been spreading manure or other fertilizer by hand, or setting fence posts with hand tools, you’re wasting an awful lot of hours that could be filled with other activities. Filling and dumping a wheel barrow trip after trip with garden compost is exhausting. And if you need to plow snow or maintain a rutted farm road or gravel drive, nothing short of a real tractor will do the job.

But before you rush out to buy your tractor, let’s look at what’s available.

What Size Tractor Do You Really Need?

Different sized tractors have different amounts of horsepower. The amount of horsepower will affect your tractor’s ability to power attachments and implements. Keep in mind that tractors are not vehicles, they are machines. They are all about work. That will help guide your buying decisions.

Here’s a look at the three common small and midsize tractors.


These tractors are fairly new, and are becoming increasingly popular for hobby farmers and country estate owners. Heavier than garden tractors and having larger tires, they provide 15 to 50 hp. That means greater traction and toughness, and the ability to accommodate implements. Massey’s GC1723EB Sub Compact, for example, comes with tilt steering, a 3-pt hitch for implements, and easily accommodates a front end loader and backhoe. You’ll find that this little machine can dig and move dirt, manure, gravel and more.

Massey has also designed these subcompacts for operator comfort, ease of operation and low maintenance. For added safety, most come with ROPS (Rollover Protection Structures) in case of rollover accidents.


Compact tractors are more versatile and somewhat more expensive. Heftier models may even be used for baling small hay acreages of hay with a small square baler. Some come with ROPS, and for a little more money you can purchase a compact tractor with an enclosed cabs for all–day operator comfort. An example of this is the 1835M Premium Compact Tractor.

Prefer a four-wheel drive tractor? Some compact models offer it. While you will see an increase in cost, four-wheel drive adds more useful power to your machine. So your smaller tractor will give you greater performance and allow you to do more than two-wheel drive. Plus, compacts are all equipped with a three-point hitch and PTO, meaning they can operate a helpful range of implements. It’s helpful to know which implements you may need before you purchase your tractor.  You can purchase them at any time, but you may be able to save money on them if the dealership is offering a package deal.

Utility Tractors

Of course you want the best tractor at the best price. And you may be surprised when someone suggests that you invest in a little more tractor than your chore list seems to demand. But this is because a more powerful machine can operate the implements you use most, without straining the engine. And there seem to always be unexpected, larger jobs when you have some acreage. A larger tractor will allow you to do them more easily.
Since utility tractors are heavy-duty, they are most often used on commercial-scale farms. Smaller farm-to-table producers may find these larger tractors handy to have, especially when maintaining both crops and livestock areas. Utility tractors are built with a three-point hitch, PTO and horsepower from 45 to 110 range and diesel engines. Four-wheel drive is available.

Now, a smaller tractor may be all you need if you are certain you only plan to mow and maybe move a little manure once in a while. And  it’s true that a larger tractor may not fit in your shed, and will take more maneuvering room than a small tractor. But if there’s a good likelihood that you’ll be tackling bigger projects like haymaking, or using implements for post hole digging, or dragging a large brush hog, ask us which size tractor will be most optimal for your needs.


A Quick Look at Stats

Horsepower measures an engine’s strength. (In fact, it originally was the estimated amount of work the average horse could do in a minute: 33,000 lbs. Later, the concept was applied to how much work an engine could do.) Clearly, the greater the hp of an engine, the more powerful it is.

How much twist does an engine apply to the driving wheels or the PTO? That’s called torque.  Higher torque lets an engine run slower than one with lower torque, even while creating the same amount of turning energy. That equates to using less energy for the same amount of work. And higher torque means less engine revving. Another advantage is that the tractor won’t stall as often when starting to work under a load. The engine will be quieter, more fuel efficient, and last longer.

And here’s something a new tractor buyer should really know: Horsepower means several things. Gross horsepower is the amount of power produced by the engine. But just by being in operation, the engine loses a little of its horsepower. PTO horsepower (what’s left to operate the implements) is the number you want to pay attention to. Most manufacturers list the PTO horsepower for their tractors. That helps you decide how powerful an engine you really need. Come into the dealership knowing this, and you’re not only ahead of the game, you’ll impress the sales crew!

Also, be aware that all tractors lose some power at higher elevations. A 3% reduction in hp for every 1,000 feet above sea level is about average. So a tractor being used in Colorado will need a higher hp engine than one at sea level to do the same amount of work. Operating on wet or hilly terrain will also cause power loss. And wear and tear on the engine as it ages will also lower your horsepower, making proper maintenance a must.

What About Price?

We know everyone has a budget they need to stick to But it’s not always in your best interest to focus solely on price when buying a new tractor. A high quality tractor will last longer and save you money over time. Be sure to learn what comes standard and what will be extra. We can sometimes offer you package deals that include the tractor and implements for a very good price.

Also, it’s a good idea to ask us about tractor elements like the remote hydraulic cylinder outlet. This outlet improves your ability to operate implements that come with their own hydraulic cylinders. Our tractor experts can help you determine which implements will do the tasks you require while working best with the tractor you choose.

Come in for a free demo and find the right tractor for you. A tractor you enjoy driving will make working around your place a much better experience.


Ben Leben

Ben is in the sales department at Montrose Implement & Motorsports. An outdoor enthusiast, Ben is equally comfortable discussing ATV's and Side-by-Sides, Snowmobiles, Tractors and Implements.