Things To Look For In A Tractor?
There are several things to look for when buying a Yanmar tractor.
Before you even take a look at a single tractor you need to find out what models you need to steer clear of. There are a few tractors being sold as Yanmar tractors that are not technically Yanmars at all. Many are Korean tractors that have Yanmar decals on them. Stay away from YM350, F455, YM150, and several others. There are also very rare Yanmar tractors that are hard to get parts for like the YM2200 (getting better), YM2700 (getting better), YM1110, YM273, and YM177. Check out our models to avoid list to find other models to stay away from or the message boards to find the best models to get. Overall, except for the listed models, most have excellent parts availability that is only getting better because of the huge numbers of the tractors coming into the US (many thousands of each model!).
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One option that a lot of people tend to think they need is power steering. Most Yanmar models, however, do not have power steering as an option. The reason is that the way the front axles are set up on the Yanmars there is really not a big need for power steering. The non power steering is really fairly easy. If you have a full load of dirt in a loader it can be tough to steer when you are at a dead stop BUT you really should never steer from a stop anyway (it is hard on the steering, axles, tie rods, etc... just like a car). Once you get moving it gets really easy again. If you can find a tractor with power steering- great! Then you have the problem of getting parts for that steering unit. Since power steering models are very rare- parts are hard to get and there are really no user serviceable parts in that power steering box (compared to the fairly simple standard Yanmar tractor steering box rebuild). It is actually a fairly complex system with intricate valves, seals, & orings to wear out. Just something to think about. If you want to add power steering there are power steering kits available for most models.
After you have looked through the models to avoid list and have chosen a tractor to look at- look at the overall condition of the tractor. A tractor that has been abused or not maintained properly should be avoided. Be sure that the tractor that you are looking at doesn't have leaking seals around the axles. Some seals on these tractors are extremely difficult to get to and will be costly to repair.
** Look out for tractors that have been "refurbished" or "reconditioned". There are 2 typical types of "refurbishing"
Ever see that show called Junk Yard Wars where teams scramble through junk yards trying to be the first to build something from scraps? This is basically what happens in some rebuild shops. Workers take damaged tractors & find an axle from one model that will fit on another. An engine from this tractor fits into this one. A piston here, a gear here, and pretty soon you have a working tractor again. There are, however, 2 HUGE problems with this. 1- The workers in these shops are not as skilled as the original Yanmar assembly line techs. The shops are dirty, torque specs are frequently overlooked, incorrect pieces are substituted, corners are cut. You end up with a ticking time bomb ready to fall apart. We see bolts missing from connecting rods. Used head gaskets re-used. Bags of parts left INSIDE the engine - clogging up the oil pickup screen! It makes for a very unreliable tractor. 2- If you take an axle from a YM1502 & put it on a YM1300 it may bolt right up & work fine. But what happens when you need a part for your "YM1300" front axle? NONE OF THE PARTS ARE GOING TO FIT because it is not a YM1300 axle. Look at the engine compartment for signs of abuse or previous repairs. A tractor with signs of prior repair is not necessarily bad as long as the work was done by a competent mechanic.
If shopping for a four wheel drive compact tractor, be sure that the front wheels are actually engaging. Find a hill or washout and take some time to see if the front wheels engage. Make sure that the three point system will raise and lower a load. Most compact tractors, even if there is a serious problem will raise the arms without a load on them so you should try standing on them and raise them or hook up to an implement of some kind. Do the same with the PTO. If a tractor has a serious problem in the PTO system, like a burned clutch, it will still turn without a load on it. Hook up to a mower or tiller and be sure that it still works. Most imported compact tractors have multiple speed PTOs so be sure that all of the speeds work.
The small diesel engines on the compact tractors are clattery by nature. This is not necessarily a problem. Let the engine warm up and it should get a little quieter. Diesel engines will smoke when first started or under a heavy load. This is not usually a problem either. If your tractor smokes for a long period of time after starting it, or the smoke smells like burned oil, there might be something more serious wrong with it.
Your tractor should have two brake pedals (field brakes) to help turning. Be sure that both brakes work properly. Check to see if the charging system is working. The battery or alternator light should (on most models) come on when the key is on and the engine is not running. If the light does not come on or never goes off you need to check the charging system with a volt meter to ensure it is charging 13.5 to 14.5 volts.
Inspect the overall tractor. If the tractor seems to be in good shape and none of the things listed above are wrong with it; chances are that it will last a very long time. Most Yanmar tractors can last over 6,000 hours before major service is needed. The average user will never put that many hours on one.
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Always install proper safety equipment including a certified ROPS and always wear your seatbelt!