Warning Signs To Look For When Buying Used Construction Equipment

Looking at used heavy construction equipment for sale is a lot like looking at used cars for sale. If you know what to look for, it's possible to find a great piece of equipment at a reasonable price. With the price of used equipment rising as high as $500,000, savings are important. However, because of the demanding environment in which this equipment is used, it's easy to come across a lemon or two.

Fortunately, there are some simple warning signs to look for when buying just about any piece of used construction equipment. By looking for these specific traits, you'll significantly increase your chances of a successful purchase.

Engine Trouble

It's often difficult to tell whether an engine is working properly from a simple demonstration. Since you won't have the opportunity to put the machine through its paces, you'll need to spot the warning signs of a bad engine. These include:

  • Excessive smoke on ignition
  • Difficulty starting without multiple attempts
  • Significant audible changes when running at different speed

Make sure that you start the equipment up multiple times before you make your purchase. Then, while the equipment is running, put the machine through a variety of engine speeds and stress. Listen carefully for an even response through all of these speeds. If you sense that the engine struggles at any time, find another piece of equipment.

Repair Marks and Welds

There's no way that a piece of heavy construction equipment will operate without becoming damaged at some point. That said, a machine that has been through extensive repairs carries a high degree of risk with it. Further complicating matters is the fact that you'll never know how well the repair work was completed.

The best way to avoid any issues in this area is to look for the tell-tale signs of repair work. Typically, these will either be visible welds or parts that appear much newer or older than the majority of the machine. A few of these welds and replacement parts is usually not an issue. If you see a great deal of these signs on the machine, though, you may want to explore other options.

Lack of Maintenance Records or Inspection Reports

A number of information companies have made a great deal of money by supplying vehicle history reports to automobile consumers. That's because regular maintenance is absolutely crucial to extending the life and utility of a car or truck. The same holds true for heavy construction equipment.

Ask the current owner if you can see the machine's maintenance report. Since heavy construction equipment maintenance is more intensive and time-consuming than with other equipment, they've likely kept a schedule. If they haven't, you shouldn't necessarily back out of the deal. However, you should proceed with caution and investigate carefully.

Uncommon Brand Name

It's not fair to say that the brand name will determine either the longevity or value of a piece of equipment. That said, there is one major factor that makes the manufacturer an important consideration when buying used equipment--the availability of replacement parts.

Particularly with older equipment, you're going to need to make repairs. This is a normal part of the aging process for any vehicle or piece of equipment. Popular brands are going to have parts much more readily available at a reasonable price than obscure manufacturers. You will likely pay a little more for a used machine from a top manufacturer, but you'll save money over time through less expensive repair and maintenance.

It's always a risk when you make a substantial investment in a used piece of equipment. That said, since equipment can function perfectly for 10,000 hours or more, it's often worth the effort to look for a great deal on used machinery.