wikiHow to Drive a Tractor

Three Parts:Checking the TractorDriving the TractorUsing the Tractor

Tractors come in all sizes with different horsepower engines. Tractors make farming easier and more efficient. You can attach a plow or blower and use your tractor to remove snow, attach a bucket and move wood, stone or mulch, use the forks to lift large logs, small dead trees and other heavy objects, and even use your tractor to mow your lawn. It's a versatile and essential rural tool. See Step 1 for more information on using one.

Part 1
Checking the Tractor

  1. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 1
    Look for tractor safety issues. Walk around your tractor doing an inspection before climbing on. Loose wheel lugs, nuts or bolts may need periodic tightening.
  2. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 2
    Check your tractor's tire pressure. Low pressure in one or more tires may cause instability and create a safety hazard. If you're not driving your tractor every day, make it a routine to give the tires a quick once-over so you know they're in good shape before you get way out in a field.
  3. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 3
    Inspect your stabilizer chains to ensure they are properly secured. Do this when your tractor attachments are behind the tractor.[1]
  4. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 4
    Open the hood of your tractor. Check the cooling system, radiator and battery levels to make sure they are in the proper range.Make sure you have enough oil and fuel to complete the job or task at hand.
  5. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 5
    Be safe at all times. Wear good-quality boots with gripping soles, and keep any long hair tied back. Avoid dangling jewelry that could become caught in moving machinery, and avoid wearing loose or baggy clothing while operating a tractor. Always climb into the tractor using the proper hand holds.

Part 2
Driving the Tractor

  1. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 6
    Climb up into the tractor's seat. Familiarize yourself with the controls and find the clutch. Set the seat so you can reach the steering wheel, throttle, and other controls easily with your hands and feet.
    • Wear your seatbelt any time you're going to be around other vehicles. In the field, while it may seem like common sense to buckle your safety belt, you'll find almost no farmers strapping themselves in. More likely than an accident in your tractor will be the need to quickly turn off the engine and hop out and do something that needs doing. The safety roll bar will help to prevent serious injury. Practice good tractor safety and drive safely.
  2. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 7
    Press the clutch pedal down to the floor with your left foot. You want to be sure the transmission is in neutral as you turn it over.
  3. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 8
    Engage the break with your right foot. Turn the key forward to start the engine. When it turns over, drop the throttle slightly (without killing it) to let the engine warm up a little. If you jump straight from turning it over to driving, you'll likely stall.
  4. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 9
    To drive, release the tractor's parking break. Continue holding the clutch to the tractor floor and put the transmission into a first gear.
  5. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 10
    Slowly lift your foot off the clutch. Just as with any manual transmission, you want to be slow and smooth as you let the clutch out. It's a lot easier since you don't have to be actively pushing the gas. Keep the throttle at a low setting and take your foot off the brake.
  6. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 11
    Maintain a uniformly slow speed. Tractors aren't made for going particularly fast, they're made for durability and power. Don't push it. Go slowly, treating turns, curves, and hills with special caution.
    • Especially if you're using attachments and other hardware, go extremely slowly and use precaution when executing turns.
  7. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 12
    To stop the tractor, press the clutch to the floor completely. Switch the gears to neutral and set the parking brake. Slow the throttle. Turn the tractor key to the off position to stop the tractor engine.

Part 3
Using the Tractor

  1. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 13
    Make sure all operators are trained and familiar with the tractor. For farm hands or employees younger than 16, familiarize yourself with OSHA labor standards regarding child labor. Some jobs involving heavy machinery are too dangerous to be performed by less experienced workers.
    • "HO/A #1 The FLSA prohibits youth under 16 years of age from operating a tractor of over 20 PTO (power-take-off) horsepower, and from connecting or disconnecting implements or parts to such a tractor."[2]
    • In some places, it's necessary to obtain a registration to drive your tractor on the road (the UK and Australia, for example) while many other regions forego registration as long as your tractor displays reflective caution tape and is clearly visible.
  2. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 14
    Outfit your tractor with a mowing attachment. For heavy-duty weed control and maintenance of rough areas of your property, it's useful to get a mowing attachment to eliminate invasive weeds and brush.
  3. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 15
    Attach a tractor bucket and learn to use it. Most Kubotas and other common smaller tractors have a wide variety of attachments, including buckets that will make your tractor into a kind of small-scale backhoe. You can haul brush and other junk around your property.
    • Follow proper driving safety when adding a bucket. Never drive with the bucket in full "up" position, but always remember to raise it into the drive position so it's not dragging in the mud.
  4. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 16
    Use cultivator attachments on larger tractors to plow for planting. If you've got a row to hoe, the job is much easier with a cultivator to break up the dirt and help plant your crop.
  5. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 17
    Make sure any attachments heavier than the tractor itself have independent brakes. If you're using tractor attachments, you'll need to be especially careful to drive extremely carefully and use the guidelines outlined in the owner's manual for each implement, attachment, or device. Make sure that heavier attachments are outfitted with independent brakes in good working condition, and learn to use them.
  6. Image titled Drive a Tractor Step 18
    Hitch all attachments properly. Make sure to follow proper safety precautions while hitching your tractor to wagons or other farming implements:
    • Make sure that the area in front and behind, making sure especially that no one is behind the tractor
    • Back the tractor up slowly
    • Practice a safe stop, applying the emergency brake
    • Put the transmission in neutral
    • Dismount the tractor and hitch up[3]


  • Don't go too fast on your tractor.
  • Use caution on slopes and hills. Be sure to slow down for turns.
  • Use caution when putting on and taking off different tractor attachments.
  • Tractors are not toys. Keep all children off of and away from your tractor.


  • Never leave your tractor running and unattended.
  • Never start a tractor unless you are in the tractor's seat. Accidents have occurred because tractors have accidentally run over their owners.
  • Never take chances or rush while operating your tractor.
  • Do not start your tractor's engine in an enclosed garage or shed. Exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.

Article Info

Categories: Cars & Other Vehicles | Farming