The decision to purchase a used sub-compact tractor requires researching the brand and condition of the tractor and considering maintenance and safety issues. American-made used tractors tend to be a safer choice than foreign Japanese-brand tractors due to a range of factors. While Japanese-made used compact tractors are often cheaper to purchase, many tractor manufacturers don't provide maintenance support for them, which makes them a riskier option.
Inspecting the appearance of a used compact tractor is the first order of business, and used tractors should be well-maintained. Red flags to watch out for are body dents, peeling paint and tires with cracks or bulges. Tractor tires should be checked with a tire gauge to determine if they still have adequate air and tread to do the job. The articulation point of a tractor must always be checked to ensure it is properly greased and doesn't have wayward metal shards that indicate abuse. Test driving the tractor as part of an operational inspection is recommended, and this reveals any problems with the engine, steering or transmission.
Potential buyers should check the tractor's hydraulic system for signs of leakage, and look for outlets required for air drills and other tools. Used Japanese compact tractors should have basic safety features such a roll bar, PTO shields and seat belts, features needed to meet U.S. safety standards.