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How to Drive a Farm Tractor

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A farm tractor is a relatively easy piece of equipment to drive. It uses the same basic principle as a standard transmission car, but is a little more forgiving when it comes to the clutch. If you know how to operate any sort of automobile—even an automatic transmission—you should be able to pick up tractor skills with a single session of driving a farm tractor around.

Make sure the tractor is in neutral, then depress both the clutch and the brake pedal, and start it up. Release the parking brake if it’s engaged.

Keep the clutch fully depressed as you put the tractor into a low gear. Slowly take your foot off the clutch to engage the tractor.

Steer the tractor just as you would steer a car, grasping the wheel in both hands and turning it slowly in the direction you want to go. Various tractors feel different in their steering, so you should practice turning in both directions to get a feel for the tractor you’re driving.

Depress the clutch fully to shift the farm tractor into another gear. The reverse gear is a good one to practice, so shift the lever into reverse once you depress the clutch. If you have trouble moving the lever, press it gently in the direction you want to go and lift your foot off the clutch slowly. The gears should catch and the lever should then move easily.

Bring the tractor to a complete stop by depressing both the clutch and the brake. If you depress the brake only, the tractor may continue to move.

Turn off the tractor by first placing it neutral with both the clutch and the brake fully depressed. Set the parking brake. Then, depending upon the tractor you’re driving, you may need to close the throttle. Turn off the key and, in some tractors, the electrical system.


All tractors need to be turned on with a key, but depending on your model, you may need to also open the throttle and separately turn on the electrical system. Even though tractors are relatively easy to maneuver, it’s best to have your first farm tractor driving session in a location with no obstacles around.


Though partially depressing the clutch pedal can modulate the tractor’s speed, doing so will quickly wear out the clutch. Instead, keep your foot off the clutch except when you’re changing gear, and use the brake pedal to modulate your speed.