10 Things to Check When Buying Used Heavy Equipment

Insight - 44 Min read

April 17, 2024

Investing in a new piece of heavy equipment is a daunting task -- even more so if you're planning to buy a used piece of machinery. Although used construction equipment is often more economical and a better financial decision, the process is not always simple or easy.

Acquiring used heavy equipment can be a financially sound decision, but it's a venture that demands careful consideration and scrutiny. These substantial machines, vital to various industries, require a detailed evaluation before purchase. Here are ten critical factors to inspect when considering the acquisition of used heavy equipment.

To make sure you're getting the best value, here are 10 things to check when buying used heavy equipment.

1. Seller Reputation

One of the primary steps in acquiring used heavy machinery is to thoroughly evaluate the seller's reputation. Delve into research, read customer reviews, and gather testimonials to gauge the credibility and trustworthiness of the seller in the industry. A reputable seller often ensures a smoother and reliable purchase process.

2. Purchase History

Understanding the machine's purchase history is imperative. Enquire about the number of previous owners, intervals between ownership changes, and how diligently the equipment was maintained by its previous custodians. This historical insight unveils critical information about the machinery's condition and performance potential.

3. Price

Before purchasing a used piece of heavy equipment, take some time to research its current market value. Just as a used heavy equipment buying guide should not be listed for the same price as a new one, a listing with a dangerously low price is also usually a red flag. The cost of a used heavy equipment inspection part of equipment should accurately reflect its age, operating time, and its maintenance history.

4. Maintenance

Understanding how the used piece of equipment was maintained is critical to understanding its value. Make a note of how frequently it received basic maintenance and how many major repairs and replacements it has undergone. By digging into the machine's history, you'll learn more about the damages it has sustained as well as recurring damage to the same areas.

5. Operating Hours

The number of operating hours a piece of machinery has under its belt will be a big indicator of its value and functionality. Along with age, operating hours eventually affect how well a piece of equipment operates. A frequently used equipment will wear down more quickly, while a well-used machine will require repairs and replacements more frequently than equipment that is used part-time. The seller should be able to provide an accurate estimate of how many hours the equipment was used each week, and the anticipated lifespan of the machine.

6. Poor Repairs

Signs of normal wear and tear are to be expected on used equipment. However, knowing the difference between wear and tear and poor repairs will save you from financial risks, project delays, and making a bad investment. Be sure to check the machine for loose pins, suspicious bushings, and other issues that could indicate that the current or previous owners neglected to maintain the equipment properly.

7. Signs of Welding

Although welding is a common remedy for minor cracks, if the repairs were not done by the original equipment manufacturer, the job site and of the weld may be a sign of weakness. Welding does not offer the same integrity as the original manufacturing material, which could pose an issue for you down the road.

8. Testing the Equipment

While visual inspections are important, testing the equipment is a crucial step in purchasing used heavy equipment. Listen to the sounds the machine makes, pay attention to how it drives and hauls, and check that the gauges are in working order. If you have trouble starting the machine or if it shows any other signs of engine issues, you'll want to walk away from the purchase.

9. Engine Exhaust

If you notice any issues while the machine is running, such as black engine exhaust smoke, dig a little deeper to determine if it is due to faulty injectors, dirty air filters, or a fuel-rich air/fuel mixture. These issues and white smoke could also be a sign that the fuel is not burning correctly, which may indicate a problem with the head gasket or compression.

10. Model Type and Abundance of Replacement Parts

Since used equipment is usually older, you'll want to make sure that there are still replacement parts available should you ever need them. Although some older used machines are in great shape and are sold for a great price, all machinery wears down and will need repairs and replacement parts eventually.

Here's a table summarizing the 10 things to check when buying used heavy equipment:

This table provides a clear overview of the key checkpoints to consider when evaluating used heavy equipment for purchase.

How to Thoroughly Inspect Used Heavy Equipment Before Buying?

The process of inspecting used heavy equipment is a critical phase in ensuring a sound investment. Evaluating every aspect of the machinery is essential for potential buyers to make informed decisions. Here's an in-depth guide on how to thoroughly inspect used heavy and heavy construction equipment, before purchase:

1. Visual Examination: Start with a meticulous visual inspection. Check for signs of wear and tear, visible damage, rust, or corrosion. Examine the body, hydraulic components, structural integrity, and any signs of previous accidents or repairs.

2. Fluid Analysis: Test the fluids—engine oil, hydraulic oil, transmission fluid, and coolant. Discoloured or contaminated fluids might indicate underlying issues. Fluid analysis helps in understanding the internal health of the machine.

3. Mechanical Inspection: Check the engine, transmission, and other crucial mechanical components. Look for leaks, unusual noises, or vibrations while the equipment is running or operating. Ensure all mechanical functions of industrial equipment are working properly.

4. Operational Testing: Operate the machinery under various conditions. Test its functionality, including driving, lifting, and any specific tasks it is designed to perform. Ensure all control systems and attachments of specialty equipment are operational.

5. Undercarriage and Tires Inspection: Examine the undercarriage components, such as tracks or wheels. Check for wear, damages, or any misalignment in tracks. Inspect tire conditions, including tread depth and any signs of uneven wear.

6. Frame and Structure Assessment: Carefully inspect the equipment's frame and structure. Look for any cracks, bends, or welds that might indicate previous structural damage or inadequate repairs.

7. Electrical System Evaluation: Inspect the electrical system, including the wiring, lights, and controls. Ensure all electrical components are functioning correctly without any signs of damage or malfunctions.

8. Safety Features and Compliance Check: Verify if all safety features, such as alarms, emergency shut offs, or guards, are in place and operational. Check for compliance with safety standards and regulations in the machinery's respective industry.

9. Service History and Documentation Review: Request and review the maintenance and service records. Comprehensive documentation helps in understanding the machinery's past, maintenance costs, repairs, and any recurring issues it might have faced.

10. Test Drive and Operational Performance: Where possible, conduct a test drive or operational performance test of a tracked machine. Assess how the machine functions in real-world conditions to better understand its performance and capabilities.

11. Third-Party Inspection: Consider employing a professional third-party inspector to conduct a detailed assessment of new equipment. Their expertise and unbiased evaluation offer a more comprehensive and objective view of the equipment's condition.

12. Environmental and Regulatory Compliance: Ensure the equipment complies with environmental and industry-specific regulations. Confirm adherence to emissions standards proper maintenance and safety protocols to avoid future compliance issues.

Bottom Line

The acquisition of used construction equipment and heavy equipment buying guide demands meticulous scrutiny. Assessing seller credibility, purchase history, maintenance records, operating hours, repairs, and testing are paramount. Careful consideration of these aspects ensures a reliable and cost-effective purchase. Boom & Bucket's commitment to rigorous third-party inspections and a reliable marketplace stands as a beacon for buyers seeking quality used machinery. Following these ten critical checkpoints empowers buyers to make informed decisions, securing machinery that meets performance expectations, longevity, and operational efficiency for their business needs.

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