Fix it or replace it — what factors to consider

Lacey Jarrell/For the Capital Press Brim New Holland Service Manager Billy Martin says having a clean air filter is crucial to keeping farm equipment running smoothly. He suggests cleaning air filters daily, especially when fields are dusty.

When purchasing new equipment, investing in an extended warranty can minimize risk and cost down the road.

After the manufacturer’s warranty runs out, repair costs come straight out of pocket, said Rich Schmidt, sales associate at the Brim New Holland dealer in Salem, Ore. But with an extended warranty, repairs often only cost the amount of the deductible.

“These warranties are always available until the manufacturer’s warranty expires. They don’t necessarily have to buy it at purchase time. They can buy it later,” Schmidt said.

Carl Laux, sales manager at the Pape John Deere dealer in Tangent, Ore., recommends purchasing extended warranties for large, medium and small equipment. He also noted that warranty deductibles are usually low — ranging between $250 and $500 per incident — and are only a fraction of some tractor repair costs, which can easily exceed $10,000.

“Repairs are expensive and it doesn’t take long to pay for that extended warranty,” Laux said. “We haven’t had anyone complain about buying an extended warranty. They always thank us because we sold it to them.”

According to Brim New Holland Service Manager Billy Martin, farmers who are considering forgoing repairs and buying another piece of equipment should weigh the cost of repairs against purchase price.

“If you can afford to replace it, you replace it. If you can’t, you fix it,” Martin said. “If it’s just a small part that’s broken, it’s probably cheaper to just repair it.”

Martin said equipment owners need to be diligent about upkeep — he recommends inspecting engines daily, and checking engine and hydraulic oils. He noted that air filters, especially those in equipment working dusty fields, should be cleaned daily as well.

“Everybody just gets in and goes, but they need to take time to check the fluid levels and make sure everything is up and topped off before they get to work with it,” he said.

Jeff Rossow, president of Mid-Valley Tractor in Eugene, Ore., noted that front pivot seals can easily wear out. He recommends equipment owners regularly check them for dirt, wear and leaks.

He advises equipment owners regularly grease loader and axle pivot points so they don’t get rusty and freeze up.

Laux said keeping electronic software upgrades in new equipment up-to-date is the best way to ensure precision technology in tractors and farm equipment is accurate.

“Make sure the latest version of the software is current in those machines because the manufacturers are constantly upgrading and modifying the software,” he said.

Laux said before deciding whether to fix or repair equipment, owners should also review the equipment’s history and compare its net value with what’s been spent on maintenance repair. He said equipment owners should keep a detailed log of repairs and maintenance.

“That’s part of your cost of ownership, and of course, the older it gets, the more repairs it will need,” he said.

“Anything spent on repairs, that’s a tax deduction,” he added. “So there are advantages to repairing, as well.”

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