One of the first questions to ask when it’s time to expand your fleet is whether you should rent or buy particular pieces of machinery. If you decide to purchase any heavy equipment, the next question you’re faced with is whether to buy new or used.
Purchasing used machines is a budget-friendly option that can work as a good compromise between renting and buying new. Of course, if you’re not a cautious buyer, getting used heavy equipment carries some risks that can jeopardize what should be a smart investment.
Here are some important tips for buying used heavy equipment that help you steer clear of these risks and ensure that you’re investing in a quality piece of machinery that will serve your construction company well for years to come.
Tips for Purchasing Used Machines
- Review the heavy equipment’s financial history to make sure it’s been paid off in full so the title will transfer, and that there are no liens against it
- Find out the total operating hours of the machine, just as you’d consider the mileage on a used vehicle
- Look over the maintenance schedule and reports; only buy a used machine that’s been maintained on schedule and had problems quickly and correctly fixed
- Check the machine’s fluids, including engine oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, and coolant; if fluids are low or dirty, the equipment probably hasn’t been well maintained
- Inspect for damage; used heavy equipment is bound to have some wear and tear, but watch out for hairline cracks, rusting, and other problems that can turn into more costly repairs that counteract the savings you enjoy by buying used
- Pay particular attention to inspecting the engine and transmission; listen for weird sounds and watch for unusual emissions’
- Examine the chassis, and check hoses, pumps, rams, and hydraulic components for leaks and damage
- Look closely at the tires and tracks too; keep an eye out for cracks and bubbles, check the tires for uneven wear on a tread gauge, and make sure all tracks and bolts are in place on track machines
- Watch out for welding in places like the backhoe, buckets, and loader arms; this indicates a repaired break, and welds are never as strong as the original before the break
- Test any used machine thoroughly, including all the pedals, sticks, steering, dashboard features, safety features, seat adjustments, and other controls
- Only buy from a reputable dealer; check out their website, reputation, online reviews or testimonials, experience, maintenance capabilities, guarantees, warranties, and service agreements
- Weigh the age and operating hours of the equipment against how much the price has been lowered from buying it new; keep in mind that typically, a machine loses the most value in its first year of use (20 to 40 percent usually), but then can maintain value fairly well for several years if properly maintained and serviced
- Take a look at the machine’s technology; tech changes pretty quickly these days, so make sure you’re getting technology you can work with