Early on, the temptation to get used farming equipment proves irresistible at times because you can save a lot of money.
It’s especially savvy to do this when you’re in a bind and in dire need of specific equipment without much wiggle room in your budget.
However, while you might get a good deal on moderately used tools, there’s more to consider. A discounted price tag can mean long-term maintenance expenses, and even danger for you and your family. The number one cause of death and dismemberment amongst the farming community is the result of a piece of equipment malfunctioning.
That said, let the following reasons shed some light on why you should steer clear of used equipment at all costs.
Farming equipment, especially automobile machinery such as tractors, are subject to wear and tear.
These aren’t like cars where people purchase them for the aesthetics and make an effort to keep the mileage down.
Farmers use farm equipment, every single day.
So no matter how good or new it might look on the outside, the engine is undoubtedly reeling from years of productivity. If it’s an especially good deal, beware. The equipment may already be in damage control mode on the inside.
By the time you’re getting this used equipment, its best days are probably behind it. At best, it may only be up and running for a couple of years beyond that point. The average agricultural tractor, for instance, can offer you about two decades of service.
So getting one at the start of its lifespan will save you money on immature replacements. A used tractor won’t cost you 25% of the original price. It’ll likely cost much more, and may have already used up 75% of its lifespan by the time you acquire it. Then that last 25% of its lifespan may come with a handful of repairs, making the equipment MORE expensive than buying a brand new one.
Farming equipment, just like all other machines, are always on a downward trend from the time they leave the factory.
Their work output progressively takes a dip while lubrication, fuel, and other operational costs steadily head in the opposite direction.
Consequently, you’ll spend a lot more on average to keep used equipment up and running than you would spend to do the same for a brand new piece of equipment.
Used farm equipment is generally “on-sale” because of a perennial problem. If the owner is still farming, there is something they would like to shift out of his or her hands, and onto someone else. In other words, buying used equipment guarantees that you’re buying something someone else no longer wants or finds useful.
Every now and again this can be because the owner had too many “toys” or because they never use the equipment. However, it’s more likely the machinery has problems the owner no longer feels like dealing with.
These issues are typically unrecognizable at first. They’re even hard to spot during a test drive. Ultimately, they will crop up sooner or later and with regular frequency after that.
I once bought a used Honda civic stick-shift, and at the dealer, it drove so smoothly my brother commented on it.
A few weeks later, it became stiff, and I’ve had to replace the clutch twice in 4 years. It’s provided me with persistent maintenance needs. I look back an wish I hadn’t made that purchase all the time. But when I bought it, I thought I was getting a really good deal.
With constant breakdowns comes sizeable maintenance costs, and opportunity cost as you’ll lose days of productivity when these breakdowns occur. In the end, you’ll not really have saved any money at all, and cost yourself a lot of trouble. Plus, the newest equipment comes with a warranty. This means if some sort of maintenance issue arises, you don’t have to cover it out of pocket.
Some unscrupulous sellers will sell something they know has problems. By pulling the wool over your eyes, they’ll happily sell you a lemon to get if off their own hands.
This is especially common if you are just starting out, and aren’t too familiar with the technical side of things. It’s not always the case that there’ll be lingering bolt holes or tell-tale vacant slots to give you the heads up when you initially inspect the equipment.
A good clean up job can make the most dysfunctional machinery work for a short time. Some parts may also be excluded from the package, and you’ll be none the wiser. Dealing with a trusted seller availing new equipment can get around this headache.
With aging farm equipment comes the need to carry out an inspection. This is especially important if you are a new farmer without a clue as to what constitutes a red flag.
Getting a professional to determine whether that field mower has a functioning gearbox or not can save you a ton of time and money. Checking whether an item is compatible with present-day accessories may save you from digging deeper into your pockets.
You’ll have no such worries when you shop for new tools.
So used or brand new, what will it be?
The last thing you want is to do your research, and purchase used equipment in an effort to save money. Then turn around and spend twice as much repairing that equipment.
While it might seem a plausible decision to get used farm equipment right now, you’ll likely not feel the same way a few weeks down the line when the equipment begins to malfunction.
Your best shot at good farming equipment is to buy new. That’ll give you excellent ROI because you’re getting just what you need straight from the source. They also take responsibilty for mechaincal issues under warranty, as these manufacturers know that you can find used equipment for cheaper.
It’s a mutually beneficial purchase, as you’re paying more for less hassle and worry. What’s more, you’ll get a pretty sweet replacement warranty for sizeable purchases, but you cannot say the same for those used farm tools. If something bought straight from the source malfunctions, all you have to do is call and have it replaced. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to farming equipment.
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