18 posts

Member for

12 years
Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 07/08/2012 - 21:20


Hi Guys,

Thanks for the info on leasing/ agisting.  

Next question:  I would appreciate some advice/ experience on purchasing a tractor, namely I am looking for a small-medium size tractor for a variety of tasks on 180 odd acres.  I have seen a range of tractors at the more cost effective end of the spectrum which appear to be a Japanese rebuild with a bucket attached that comes with a 3 month warranty OR a new chinese or Indian model of comparable price that has a 2 year warranty.  

I have read a number of forums regarding the chinese imports both in Australia & the USA and the reviews are mixed however for the longer standing chinese versions, the reviews are generally positive.  I would appreciate any thoughts/ advice about this along with any experiences in regards to utilising the standard warranty that is provided and the level of coverage it provides.  Also any advice/ knowledge on the avilability of spare parts for these imports or their compatability with generic parts available in Australia?

Whilst on the subject of imports, any advice in regards to equipment such as quad bikes, tractor implements etc would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,






Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/20/2011 - 16:16

Hi Gary

 I haven't any experience with Chinese, Indian tractors vs the more traditional makes so I can only go by observations I've made over time.

 New entrants into the market place of course have longer warranties to get a foothold. We have seen this over the year with cars, with the likes of Korean brands Kia, Hyundai, Daewoo and now Great Wall from China. In general, the machinery of the newer entrants is of older technology, often the technology being licenced 'cast offs' from more established companies as they move into the next generation. From this, I think we can assume that if the technology was good 10 to 20 years ago, then it will still be good today; you simply miss out on enjoying the very latest innovations technology has to offer.

 The next thing to observe is that machinery made today is much, much better manufactured than what it was even 20 years ago. Computers have seen to this; the machining tolerances are so much better. The likes of China have leapfrogged these problems by buying into new plant.

Another thing to observe is that such tractors are often made in huge quantities in their home markets, they're just not very well known here in our own. I'm sure accessing spares is no problem in the home markets and many of the initial manufacturing problems have been well sorted. I therefore think that what the real issue for you is, is how well do you think the local distributor in our market can support the product? Are they likely to go out of business? Are they for example, big and bad enough to survive an economic down turn? I think these factors will be bigger factors regards spares and reliability than the machine itself, and remember, you have the extended warranties.

With regards to the likes of quad bikes, and implements, quad bikes and motorcycles in particular take a real hammering, and are built to be light and lithe, so the quality of their build is more important than that of a tractor which tends to be pretty ruggedly built anyway. With this in mind, I'd be looking very closely at the build quality lesser known brands and comparing what you see to the more established ones.

For all this, given the price differentials between the newer entrants and more established brands sometimes being threefold, if you don't mind the inconvenience of the possible occasional repair, you can buy an awful lot of spares for for the price savings of a newer entrant.

Hope these thoughts help.




Last seen: 12/26/2018 - 09:21
Joined: 05/31/2011 - 09:44

Hi Gary,

A three month warranty seems like a very short period for a tractor. A three month warranty suggests that the company does not back up its product, hence it is selling for a cheap price. I know some of the reputable and more expensive small tractor brands offer a five year or 750 hour warranty period.

If you know your horse power requirements and have a rough idea of the make and model that you are interested in there is a website New Farm Machinery that you can use to compare the features of each model.

Have any other members had an experience with different small tractor brands and warranty periods?



Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/15/2011 - 20:24

Hi Gary,

I live on about six acres in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria

About 12 months ago i purchased an 40hp Apollo Tractor.

First glance the tractor was well constructed.

And did a fair job around the place.

With 49 hours on the clock.

The front differential failed.

It took 5 months to repair the tractor.

No parts in Australia.

The parts required,had to come from China.

And on a slow boat from China to boot.

It was suggested i trade the Apollo Tractor.

After a lot of research and test driving all of the common brands.

I decided to purchase a John Deere 4105.

I could not be happier.

Runs like a dream.

Tractors from China are cheap and unrelieable.

I also have heard bad reports about so called refurbished Japaneese Tractors.

Local dealers cannot support them.

They do not stock the necessary parts.

My advise is to test drive as many known brands of Tractors.

You will be spending a lot of money on a Tractor.

It has feel right for you.

Dennis Bawden

Last seen: 05/27/2013 - 10:55
Joined: 03/12/2012 - 09:44

Hi Gary,

While I agree that some of the Chinese tractors (vehicles in general) are not on a par with other makes and models it's not just the Chinese tractor manufacturers that make for a bad experience.

As with Dennis above I'm in LV and have 4 tractors at my disposal, a Kubota, a Massie, a Fiat and an IH and our biggest let down is the local service centers.

The Fiat was only a recent aquisition and as yet hasn't needed work.

The local Massie Dealer is hopeless, they are good on the phone and promise reasonable rates but their follow up and willing to answer technical questions is poor, however their parent company AGCO is even worse. I have been in discussions with a number of people at AGCO now for 7 months regarding our Massie and I still have not got a satisfactory answer. MF in the US have been more helpful but unfortunately can't supply me with what I need.

The Kubota dealer is terrible at solving problems which aren't on their computer system and don't bother getting back to us after promising they will. We've had an ongoing problem with the Kubota since new (08) and everytime they have seen it they promise to look into the issue and get back to us and everytime after 4 weeks we contact them and they still have no idea.

The IH is a 1967 model and the local Case IH dealer has been absolutely fantastic, answered every question, supplied every part we've asked for, recommended after market parts where they were cheaper and supplied within days.

My advice when buying a tractor is get an old one :) .....only kidding! Check out the service not just the machine. I know it's not always easy to check out the service but ask around, 180 odd acres probably means there is other farmers near by, ask them who does their servicing, where they get their parts and how good that service is. It could be a Rolls Royce Tractor but if the local dealer is useless at some point in time the tractor will also be useless. Our lack of support is the main reason we have moved away from dealer servicing and now unless it's a big job do all our own servicing and purchasing of parts from other dealers off the internet. We don't really have time to do the servicing ourselves but atleast we know it's done properly when we do it.


Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 02/22/2013 - 15:29


I am writing in response to Mr. Dennis Bawden’s complaint about the support he received after a failure with his Apollo 40 HP tractor.

My name is Martin Cooper.  I am the Managing Director of SOTA Tractors Pty Ltd (SOTA), with branches in Victoria, NSW & QLD. We are the exclusive importer of Apollo Tractors in Australia. We were alerted to this discussion by one of our customers.  SOTA stands behind all the tractors it sells with the best after-sales service in Australia. We defy any tractor vendor in Australia to show that they provide better after-sales service and support than SOTA.


Prior to our being granted exclusivity for Apollo, there was one other importer of Apollo, based in QLD, which now imports a different brand of Chinese tractor. It would appear that Mr Bawden bought his Apollo from this QLD importer and had it freighted down to Victoria.

I would like to address the issues that Mr Bawden raises, to show that the problems he incurred were in fact due to poor service delivery and not through any problems with the Apollo brand of tractors.

The following FACTS will be used as a basis for our response:

  1. 1.       SOTA started importing Apollo tractors 6 years ago and has been the exclusive Australian importer for 2+ years.
  2. 2.       SOTA has not met or spoken to Mr Bawden, let alone sold him a tractor.
  3. 3.       Mr Bawden purchased his tractor from another tractor vendor; not SOTA.
  4. 4.       SOTA has NEVER imported the Apollo 40 HP model, which Mr Bawden purchased.
  5. 5.       SOTA carries a full inventory of spare parts “on the shelf” for all the Apollo models it imports.
  6. 6.       SOTA does NOT offer a 5-year warranty; neither does John Deere, Kubota, Massey Ferguson CNH and other well known tractor brands.
  7. 7.       A rigorous and documented Pre-Delivery (PD) is performed on every tractor that SOTA retails, which includes a full inspection of the front differential for fluid retention and efficacy. This PD, which is performed by a trained and qualified technician, is a vital aspect of our service delivery.

Our General Manager was contacted by a John Deere Dealer (JD) in Southern Victoria, requesting a new front differential for the tractor in question, to be paid for under a 3rd party warranty.

As we have never imported the 40 HP model, our Manager suggested that the JD Dealer go back to the Vendor as he should have the spare parts on hand. Our Manager was advised that the Vendor would not supply parts anymore as he had quit the brand and was selling a different brand now, which we viewed as very poor customer service on the vendor’s part; especially in light of it’s offering a 5 year warranty!

To help the JD Dealer out, SOTA sought a quote from our Suppliers in China, to purchase and airfreight the part from China. We also found out at that time that the differential was the same as one of the models that SOTA did import and again, to help out the JD Dealer’s customer and get his tractor back on the road, we offered to remove one from a new tractor and sell him that, with a very reasonable charge of $154.00 to remove the diff from our tractor and to subsequently install a new one on our tractor. The John Deere Dealer declined this offer. The JD Dealer did not want to pay for the part up front because they weren’t responsible for the warranty; it was the insurance company who was responsible.

Our assumption is that this was one of the spurious, 5 year warranties that have been offered by several tractor vendors, including the vendor of the tractor in question. In our view, it reflects a sub-standard, customer-support infrastructure whereby these tractor vendors simply sell off the liability to a 3rd party insurance company, whose business is to sell insurance policies - not fix tractors!  We can also assume that this is where Mr Bawden’s frustration arose; trying to get support out of a tractor Dealer that had ostensibly turned his back on him and an insurance company that didn’t really want to pay out!

Mr. Bawden’s complaint that he had to wait 5 months for his warranty to be honoured, is well justified. That is an extraordinarily long time and unacceptable in SOTA’s view. When the insurance company finally paid the JD Dealer, SOTA arranged to airfreight the differential from China and it arrived in less than a week.

SOTA provided the quotation within a day of its being requested, which is an excellent response time. Five weeks later, after the JD Dealer had further wrangled with the insurance company, we received an order and payment for the said part, which we immediately freighted in from China.

We assume that the other 4 months of Mr Bawden’s “waiting” was a result of his wrangling with both the QLD Dealer who had washed his hands of the matter and the Insurance Company. It certainly wasn’t due to a “slow boat from China”, to quote Mr Bawden.  The slow boat was right here, in Queensland and its name was “Poor-Customer-Service”.

Please remember, this was NOT a warranty claim for which SOTA was in anyway responsible as we neither sold nor imported this tractor. If it had been one of SOTA’s tractors, we would have had the part on the shelf and it would have been dispatched the same day and in the case of a warranty claim, installed free-of-charge by one of our service technicians.


Mr Bawden tells us he traded his Apollo tractor to the JD dealer for a new John Deere, which he is happy with. We assume the JD dealer recommended him to trade in his Apollo for a JD. Given his frustration with the service encounter he had experienced in trying to get a warranty claim honoured, it is not surprising that Mr Bawden agreed to trade it in.

The Apollo 40 HP was returned to proper working order and on-sold by the JD dealer. The buyer contacted us before he purchased it, inquiring whether we could supply spare parts in the future should he buy it, which we undertook to do. We haven’t heard of any problems with his Apollo since then.

SOTA believes that had a proper PD been performed on the Apollo prior to delivery, the problem would not have occurred. Nonetheless, it should have been dealt with swiftly by the tractor vendor. It should have been repaired immediately.  If Mr. Bawden had bought his tractor from SOTA , we would have picked up the tractor from Gippsland, replaced the differential, tested the tractor and returned it to his property, within a week. All travel, parts and labour would have been covered under warranty, free of charge, as per SOTA’s standard tractor warranty.

Lesson to be learned:

  1. 1.       Buy your tractor from a reputable Dealer and not on price alone

    1. A reputable Dealer has real diesel mechanics, bricks and mortar, performs a thorough pre-delivery, provides great after-sales support and carries a full range of spare-parts!
    2. They have a written warranty that is easy to claim; it is fair and honest (see pt. 5). They don’t make claiming a warranty difficult, which is not uncommon in this industry. They warrant the product themselves, backing the quality of the product and their preparation of it
    3. Five-year warranties are too good to be true.  I know of no tractor *manufacturer *on the planet that warrants its tractors for 5 years.

  2. Don’t be misled by fancy Dealer websites that flash products at you and spout rhetoric about ISO certification, 5 year warranties  and so on…. anybody can have a flashy website built! Talk is cheap! For example, one of our competitors was visited by a potential customer this week, who flew down to Victoria from Mackay, QLD to see the “hot deal” that was being offered. He had been told previously that they carried spare parts for their entire range. When he asked to see the spare parts, he was taken to the back of the factory and shown one engine and one gearbox, which were lying on the floor! He wasn’t impressed. We know this because we got it straight from the disgruntled customer, when he subsequently visited our QLD branch. It is ironic that this Victorian-based competitor, who advertises nationally, offers a 5 year spare parts warranty!

  3. Ask the Dealer to show you the written warranty (and read it carefully), the spare parts on the shelf, the workshop, the diesel mechanics, and the delivery and service trucks.

  4. Ask for contact information of previous customers.

  5. Beware of warranty “tricks”, that require the customer to “jump through hoops”, which include:

    1.  unreasonable documentation demands in support of the tractor’s service history, allowing the Dealer to void its warranty
    2. Throttling communication, causing the claim to become difficult and protracted by limiting communication to web-based email forms only, non-return of calls and so on.
    3. Passing on all freight charges pertaining to the warranty, to the customer including the return of tractor to point of sale. For example, a customer required to return his tractor from Deniliquin to Victoria and back, could incur a freight cost of $1000!
    4. Requiring a customer to return the faulty part first, before a warranty assessment will be made: Imagine having to pull your engine out and stick it on  a truck, all at your expense and through no fault of your own and still not be assured of having the repair performed under warranty….then incurring the return freight charge as well!

People buy Chinese tractors because of their low price, which makes sense. They also buy them because you get a lot more mass/metal per HP, for your money, which suits commercial farmers who need a smaller utility machine around the farm; an Apollo tractor is generally significantly bigger and heavier that its Japanese counterpart of a similar horsepower and in most cases, tractors perform more efficiently when they are bigger and heavier.

But remember, the tractor is the core product only. The service delivery infrastructure and a commitment to custom-service from the Dealer is critically important to your ultimate satisfaction with ANY brand of tractor, manufactured in any country! Please read the post above from another Farmstyle member in relation to this topic.

SOTA has spent many hours and many thousands of dollars building its customer support infrastructure, which includes: spare parts inventories, full time mechanics, onsite servicing and delivery trucks in 3 States, high-quality instructional documentation and so on. We can still offer excellent pricing to our customers on top of this first-class support.

Refurbished Japanese Tractors

In response to Mr Bawden’s comments on refurbished tractors, SOTA sells refurbished Kubotas also. We have literally thousands of satisfied customers. We only bring in Kubota models for which spare parts are available and we have a full compliment of spare parts on the shelf. We have x-reference parts numbers for our Kubotas, which the Australian Kubota Dealers do not have access to. Basically, this means that the Australian Kubota Dealers have the parts but they don't have the part numbers to x-reference their inventory; SOTA does.  In fact, we purchase many parts directly from Kubota Australia.

All our Kubota  tractors are fitted with a state of the art , certified roll bar(ROPS), seat belt and each model we import has had a hazard check performed by a leading Australian expert. Moreover we perform a thorough pre-delivery on every tractor to ensure it is ready to go. Our customers tend to buy these machines because they are very compact and  with a brand new, certified 4-in-1 loader and full after-sales support, they are a very attractive solution for someone who needs a quality, small tractor at a great price.

Mr Bawden is correct in saying that some Dealers bring in refurbished tractors that they cannot or will not support…please read the “Lesson to be learned”, above.


Martin Cooper

Managing Director

SOTA Tractors Pty Ltd.


Last seen: 05/10/2020 - 18:50
Joined: 05/09/2020 - 10:57

I am here to advise that my $22,600 28hp Apollo tractor manufactured by Changfa Corporation in China and purchased from Sotatractor in Brisbane, is without doubt the greatest piece of absolute junk bucket of oil leaking nuts and bolts I have ever bought. The Managing Director SOTA Tractors Pty Ltd Australia is more than comfortable with the product his company has sold me, notwithstanding that my tractor has been plagued with many many recurrent major faults, with many many unsuccessful attempts to repair these many many recurrent major faults (including, but not limited to; multiple major oil leaks, binding wheel, difficult shuttle shift, sloppy gears, loader cradle nearly falling off, snapping hydraulic connections, failing instrumentation, loud intermittent engine whine), and he would further have me to believe that 175 hours of operation, for a tractor that has either awaited repair or was being repaired more often than not over 8 years, is fair reasonable use for his product when operated in sunny north Queensland. I am now attempting to make contact with the manufacturer in an attempt at some redress (big joke there I know), but I will continue to explore as many small acreage and tractor forums and like businesses around Australia and the globe, so hopefully someone else will avoid being made the fool as I have. It's not nice being fleeced nearly 23k for a bucket of oil leaking nuts and bolts.

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 09/23/2011 - 16:27

Hi Gary

Here is some info that might be useful for you. There are several tractor forums that you can join or just search their posts for reviews/opinions on various tractor models. Those forums have much useful advice on tips from buying to operating tractors. Have a look at and - I did lots of reading there and asking questions before buying my first tractor. Those sites are mainly US but there are many aussies on the forums too. 

Most importantly is to find out what dealers there are in your area and go and talk with them, ask their advice, see what they sell and have a look. It's just like buying a car except there are more gears :-) Find out about the dealers; how long have they been around?, how long have they been selling that manufacturers tractors? Ask neighbouring farmers what they know also. Also there are good chinese tractors and bad chinese tractors as there are dozens of chinese tractor manufacturers. Searching the tractor forums will be useful there. Is there a farm equipment show nearby that you can attend and see many different models and dealers. For instance there are dealers such as SOTA tractors that show at the Mudgee Small Farms days.

Have fun looking and best wishes.  


Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 03/31/2015 - 08:37

Hi Gaz

I have had an Apollo 5504 (50Hp) for 5 years now and have done a lot of work with it. It has become an intergral part of doing anything on our 40 acre property and now can't imagine how anyone with acres would manage without some form of power equipment. 


With all the choise of tractors out there  you have to narrow it down by answering these questions:-

1 What do I expect it to do on my property - (Size/how big)

2 How long will I expect it to last (deprciation/running costs)

3 How mechanical am I (servicing/repairs/new/secondhand)

4 What is my record like with using equipment/tools (how fast will I break someting/roll it over)


But on the plus side you can command the power of 100 men to the task of building, digging, moving stuff around and just generaly organising mother nature to focus on your particular farm needs.

Now days a tractor with a front end loader (FEL) is a must and it SHOULD have a 4 in 1 bucket for general farm work.

I have replaced a clutch and you would expect that of a lot of "loader work" back and forward (pushing regrowth over!!).

I have also replaced a head gasget but that could have been my fault due to grass seed clogging the radiator and getting hot once.

I am very mechanical and not shy about things made of metal so if you are not maybe think bout who is about that can help with servicing localy because no mater what it is you will need parts and backup. 


Sota have been good with my needs/parts/advice so far.


Hope this may help

Last seen: 07/09/2022 - 19:49
Joined: 07/22/2013 - 22:16

Hi Gary,

I hope by now you are enjoying a tractor on your farm but I'll put in my 2 cents worth anyway.

December 2013 I took delivery of a new Apollo 454, 45 hp with plenty of goodies.  Since then it has done a lot of hard work, mostly with the loader.  I recently found a crack in the loader mounting frame.  Contacted the dealer (Sota Tractors) who happily repaired and reinforced the frame and supplied new mounting bolts to refit the unit with.  I had to R and R the unit and take it to them to the dealer but I thought they were more than reasonable given the tractor was out of warranty.

My Apollo has over 250 hours and is still working well. It's really economical to run and fairly easy to operate. 

I'm happy with my purchase and the backup from Sota.

Keith B

Last seen: 07/09/2022 - 19:49
Joined: 07/22/2013 - 22:16

An update on my Apollo 454.
Not long after my previous post and just out of warranty "something broke" on my PTO clutch. I put my foot on the clutch, it make a crack sound and hasn't disengaged since. I contacted SOTA in Sydney. No support and a quote for $3500 to fix it plus $600 to pick it up for the repairs. It remains broken.
Since then the fuel guage has failed, the water pump failed and cost over $500 with postage to replace.
The starter motor failed and the replacement starter motor failed today. It's only a few months old.
Hydraulic ram seals have failed because there is to much clearance between the piston and the cylinder.
The diff lock has failed.
Both front tires have split and they are not a standard size. Need to source replacements from the dealer.
Gear selection has become quite difficult.
This tractor has less than 1000 hours. Prior to purchase I was told to expect 5000 trouble free hours. Hmmm.
Another unhappy Apollo owner near me bought a 554 which was good for about 500 hours then started giving lots of trouble.
I wish I'd bought an old MF or JD.

Last seen: 07/14/2019 - 19:17
Joined: 07/14/2019 - 19:01

Hi Gary
I have a fair bit of country and it’s rough rocky country at Cobar
I’ve had up to 110000 acres and I bought a Apollo 854 Tractor (with a rear 3PL heavy duty post hole borer and a front loader with a 4 in bucket and forks and hay forks ect ) about 8 years ago and it’s done a fair bit of work in that time
and I am really and really like it still at this stage
On top of this
The original customer service I had and the after sales service is so far up there or equal to the best service I’ve had from and dealership including any car, tractor or anything else I’ve bought

I bought mine from SOTA tractors in Victoria and had it delivered to Cobar nsw and I would and have recommended them to anyone

In my opinion after sales service is the most important aspect of buying anything
And is a good guide to the quality and confidence in the product and SOTA tractors well and truly are leaders in this field

Hope this helps anyone looking for a tractor
Cheers Stevo
(Dan Stephens)
Cobar NSW

Last seen: 07/26/2021 - 07:40
Joined: 08/09/2020 - 17:11

hi all
recently brought a ten acre in mansfeild victoria and looking at purchase a small or compact tractor which will suitable for my needs
im looking a kubota range from sota
are reliable or look else where
thanks tony

Last seen: 07/15/2024 - 18:36
Joined: 02/28/2011 - 14:19

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the question and welcome to the forum. 

I have posted your question across to our Facebook group which you may like to join and will receive a lot more responses then the forum


Last seen: 11/05/2020 - 00:10
Joined: 11/02/2020 - 22:27

I joined the facebook group. Many Thanks.

Last seen: 07/15/2024 - 18:36
Joined: 02/28/2011 - 14:19

Hi Rodders,

Thanks very much for the post and comprehensive list, I’m sure other members will find it helpful.

We also have a Facebook discussion group and I’m wondering if you would mind posting it there or alternatively I can, if that’s okay with you.


Last seen: 09/08/2023 - 21:27
Joined: 07/23/2022 - 13:36

Hi Gary,
I have had experience buying a remanufactured japanese tractor and fount it did not live up to the hype. I now bought a MF tractor that is actually made in India, they are like chalk and cheese.
That said it is the terran you travel on and how far the wheels are spaced apart that assists in centre of gravity and feeling of safety in driving your tractor. If on hilly land then lower centre of gravity close to the ground is a key consideration. You also need to think about lifting weights and changing weather conditions, I now feed silage to the cattle, so at around 300kgs each this is something the smaller tractor would not look entertain. Same with digging with a bucket, preferably 4 in 1. happy shopping. Ian

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