1 March 1996



Tractors fitted with electronic control systems are now making their way onto the second-hand market. Should buyers beware? Here Geoff Sharp, of Massey Ferguson dealer Chandlers, guides Andrew Faulkner around a five-year-old MF3090

TEN years have passed since Massey Ferguson launched the first 3000-series tractors. The farmers weekly headline read "MF puts its money on the microchip."

That phrase says it all. Packed with electronic gadgetry, the tractors were the first from a major manufacturer to head, some would say daringly, down the computer-control route. The package included Autotronic auto operation of functions such as four-wheel drive and diff lock, and the option of the Datatronic performance monitor.

Both customers and competitors were sceptical in 1986, but MFs gadget gamble has since proven a good one. Today all the major tractor manufacturers, to a greater or less extent, incorporate electronics.

For the second-hand buyer, however, the alarm bells are probably already ringing. Microchips, digital monitors and electronics all tend to be seen as bad news when it comes to buying used farm equipment. "Yankable" levers and linkages represent a far better bet.

Geoff Sharp, of Lincs-based MF dealer Chandlers, admits scepticism towards electronics on the used market is still commonplace.

"Its scepticism which is not really justified," he says. "Most of the main Autotronic and Datatronic electronic components remain unchanged on todays tractors. They are now more than10 years old and well proven.

"The new 6100 and 8100 tractors actually use the same basic units as were introduced in 1986. The main difference is that the Datatronic performance monitor is now more compact so that it fits on the new cabs slimmer side pillars."

3090/3095 tractor

Here we concentrate on the 107hp 3090/3095 flagship built in Beauvais, France, from 1986-94.

The 3090 slotted into the MF line-up between the 93hp 2620 and ubiquitous 110hp 2640. Its lighter build meant it was heralded as a dual purpose model, capable of all the primary work performed by the big 2000-series tractors but also suited to top work such as fertiliser spreading, spraying and drilling.

Over its eight-year life, the 3090 remained relatively unchanged. Only additions of note were the fitting of the Perkins 1000-series engine and namechange to 3095 in 1990, and the Dynashift semi-powershift gearbox option in 1993.

The 1000-series engine, now found on everything from heavy truck to materials handler, improved fuel use and torque characteristics over its forebear. As such, the 3095 commands a price premium over the 3090.

Also expect to pay extra for Dynashift models, which dealers find much easier to place than the more conventional 16×16 and 32×32 synchromesh-boxed tractors.

In contrast, dont be conned into paying more for Datatronic models and those fitted with air conditioning – both options from launch. Many farmers will have negotiated these options into the original deal, so make that point if your seller tries it on.

"Datatronic is popular with farmers who are looking to buy a used tractor for top work. The system gives forward speed, area covered and distance travelled information so the farmer doesnt need to buy extra monitoring equipment."

As for specific used tractor checks, carry out the standard "brake-on/clutch" test to assess clutch condition. Also engage pto to ensure hydraulic clutch pack is freed off and functional.

For more detailed inspection, refer to pictures and captions. &#42

What to pay

Model: Massey Ferguson 3090/3095

Values relate to clean, genuine 4wd tractors on tyres that are 50% worn or less.

YearApprox Guide

hoursPrice (£)










Values jump in 1990 (**) with the introduction of 3095 model, fitted with Perkins 1000- series engines.

The Dynashift semi-powershift gearbox option was added in 1992 (*).

For 40kph top speed, dealer simply swaps some gears around so it should not affect used values.

Chandlers says about 95% of 3090s were sold with 4wd. So, again, dont expect to pay extra to drive all wheels on used models.

Model: Massey Ferguson 3090

&#8226 Engine: 107hp naturally aspirated six-cylinder.

&#8226 Max torque: 378Nm @ 1400rpm.

&#8226 Transmission: Synchromesh gearbox with reverse shuttle. Option of either 16F/16R or 32F/32RR speeds.

&#8226 Pto: Interchangeable 6- and 21-spline to give 540 and 1000rpm. Electro-hydraulic engagement.

&#8226 Rear lift capacity (at link ends): 4.8t.

&#8226 Standard tyres: 13.6R28 fronts, 18.4R38 rears.

&#8226 Weight: 4.4t.

* Main change on 3095 model (introduced in 1990) was fitting of Perkins 1000-series engine. Claimed benefits were 8% less fuel use and 11% increase in max torque. Horsepower remained the same.

Easily removable side panels give little excuse for poor maintenance. Unfortunately, it also means easy access for undesirables so check both batteries are in place. Shiny starter motor suggests retro item, but this should not be a problem.

Below: Moving around to the rear end, check lower link arms and hitch for slop fore and aft. If the pick-up hook looks worn, investigate further because it suggests a life of heavy hauling.

Above: Run your fingers along the base of the door. If rust is going to be a problem, this is the first place to look. Otherwise this cabin interior is in fine fettle – no damage to trim or seat, and all knobs and switches are in place. It has obviously been home to a house-proud former resident.

Oil is black, as it should be. Creamy water-in-oil colour is rarely found in the dry liner-equipped Perkins motor. If it is, worry. Use of genuine MF oil filter hints at owner not prepared to skimp on maintenance.

Clock tally is cause for concern. Tractor is more likely to have done 3000 hours than the 134 shown. Clocks do pack up, though, which is probably what happened here. Quizzing previous owner should set the mind at rest; he may even have kept the original clock.

Make sure the spare pto shaft is somewhere on the tractor, either in the cab or in-step mounted toolbox. Shafts have a nasty habit of walking and a replacement six-spline will set you back £116.

This five-year-old H-plate MF3090 is a particularly tidy example. All panels are in place, mirrors are intact and there are no obvious lubricant leaks. What may seem superficial observations are useful indicators of past care.

Right: Turn steering wheel to expose front axle universal joints; excessive wear tends to occur on base pivot. Note tyre condition on this tractor which is probably still on its original Goodyear rears (40% worn). Newish Michelin Bib Xs (25% worn) on the front may be result of swapping duals around.