Regardless of your level of experience operating a tractor, a good dealer should give you the help you need in choosing the right model, and set you up to test drive the tractor.

Get the most from your tractor test drive

Though the new adventure can be exciting, the search for the perfect tractor can be overwhelming if you have never owned one. But, regardless of your level of experience operating a tractor, a good dealer should give you the help you need in choosing the right model, and set you up to test drive the tractor.

Roger Harrod, a Massey Ferguson dealer in Roopville, Ga., who sells a number of compact tractors offers shoppers this advice: “I strongly recommend customers test-drive the tractors they are considering buying,” says Harrod. “A consumer shouldn’t make that investment without getting a feel for its maneuverability, ease of operation, comfort and power.”

Harrod adds that before purchasing a new tractor (or beginning a test drive), customers should ask their dealer for a full explanation of the tractor and the controls on the model they are interested in purchasing.

“Ask the dealer to review tractor safety features prior to the demo drive. After you are comfortable with operating the machine, it is perfectly acceptable to request that you explore the tractor on your own,” Harrod relates. “Most people enjoy privacy while test driving, although we are always on hand to provide tips on how best to operate the tractor.” is your One-Stop Information Source

Harrod recognizes that customers who do a bit of homework before they visit the dealership are more comfortable completing a test drive and have a better idea of what they need and want in a tractor. As a starting point, he recommends a visit to This easy-to-use website is a one-stop source for consumers to learn about tractors, and based on their specific jobs and property type, find their perfect sub-compact, compact or economical utility tractor under 65 horsepower. It offers a printable tractor test-drive checklist that prospective buyers can use to set their priorities and rank the models they test-drive for easy comparison.

He also offers this helpful list of things to look for during a test drive:

Is the tractor easy to operate? The tractor controls should be within close reach, and should limit obstruction during operation. During your test drive, check to be sure the pedals, handles and controls are easily accessible and feel comfortable to use.
Do you feel comfortable on the tractor? Note that you will be spending a lot of time around your acreage performing various jobs; and it is extremely important that your tractor is comfortable. Make sure the seat is adjusted correctly, and if the seat is cushioned to your liking. Also, is there enough leg and hip room, while still being able to reach important levers, handles, and pedals? Finally, is it easy to enter and exit the tractor platform?
Is the tractor’s maneuverability and responsiveness in line with how you plan to use it? Turn in tight circles with and without the turning brakes (if available). For tasks like loader work where you are making a lot of directional changes, how easy is it to make forward and backward changes?
How easy is the tractor to service? Are the essential service points of oil, oil filter, air filter, battery, radiator and fuel easy to get to when they need to be checked or serviced?
Does the tractor meet your specific needs? If you are going to use the tractor in the winter for snow removal and other chores, you may want to ask the dealer if the specific model requires an engine heater. Also, consider lighting. For example, you may need extra lights if you are going to be using your tractor in heavily wooded areas or other dark areas.
What implements do you need? Ask questions about operating implements and attachments for your tractor such as a loader, mower, backhoe, etc. If using a loader is new to you, you will get better with practice. Try raising the loader up, and dump and curl the bucket. Cycle through the loader hydraulics to test the comfort and responsiveness of the joystick. Test the loader’s cycle speeds, which correlate to productivity.

When you find the right tractor, it becomes an invaluable and reliable tool that allows you to enjoy the rural lifestyle. Choosing the right tractor should be fun, easy and satisfying.