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6 tips for buying used construction equipment

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It’s time to replace a vehicle or other piece of construction equipment in your fleet and now you are faced with a dilemma: What do you do? Buy used or new?

While buying used versus new can often come down to preference, there’s no getting around the fact that buying used can be a great way to catch a deal and save money. However, you have to know what to look for in order to make sure you are actually getting a beneficial deal and not throwing away money on heavy equipment that isn’t going to last or perform as well as you need.

With these tips, you can make sure you are finding a deal on a vehicle or machinery that is going to last and play a productive role in your construction company’s fleet.

1. Be open to buying used.

For some, the first hurdle to clear is the idea itself of buying used. Construction equipment does not need to be brand new to accomplish a project, though. Buying used can also be a wise financial decision.

Keep your mind open and you may end up saving money while still performing just as well with used equipment as you would with new. Check with others within your personal network to see if they have equipment that they would be interested in selling. This could land you an even better deal.

2. Know exactly what equipment you need.

Before you dive in and begin contacting potential sellers, determine exactly what type of machinery you need. What are the specifications you need in a piece of equipment that will allow you to use it as needed?

If there is a certain size of equipment, model or feature that you need at the construction site, then make note of that. This will help you identify equipment that meets your needs and lead to less time wasted looking over equipment that does not fit your requirements.

Don’t forget to look into models from a number of different manufacturers. If you have a manufacturer preference, then that’s fine, but it’s good to be aware of all the options you might have. Keep in mind that you may be able to find a piece of equipment from a lesser known manufacturer that is just as good of a fit for your operation as equipment from a more popular maker, especially when we’re talking used equipment.

3. Research the equipment’s history and prior owners.

Whenever buying used heavy equipment, you need to thoroughly research the equipment’s history. Begin by doing a little background research on the individual or company selling the equipment. What’s their reputation? A seller known for maintaining a respected and reputable operation likely takes better care of their equipment than a seller who has a less-than-stellar reputation.

Ask the seller how many previous owners the equipment has had or, better yet, obtain a buyer and seller history. If available, look into those buyers and sellers, too, to get a better idea of how the machinery has been treated over the course of its life.

Only buy used equipment for reputable sources who will be honest and transparent with you about the equipment’s history. Ask whether there are any liens against the equipment. Your bank may be able to help with that.

4. Know how much you are willing to pay.

Before you go much further, you need to know how much you are willing to (and can) pay to make the purchase financially feasible. This likely will involve a review of your financial records. It may also be wise to consult your banker or financial adviser to know how much you can expect to qualify for in a loan if that’s the route you take.

Some sellers may also provide financing, so review your credit so you are able to determine what kind of financing you may be able to receive.

Don’t forget to review equipment transportation options. It’s not cheap to move equipment long distances, and you may need to pay for the machinery to get to you.

5. Have the equipment inspected before it’s purchased.

Construction equipment, new or used, is an investment. As such, an inspection before the sale is finalized is an absolute must. Now, some buyers may have the confidence and experience necessary to perform an inspection themselves. They know what to look for based on how old an individual piece of machinery may be. If this sounds like you, then great! If not, bring in an expert who knows exactly what to look for in used equipment.

As far as what to look for goes, make sure the inspection includes a close look at all parts that commonly need replaced and any that could potentially need replaced due to use or age. Ask the seller whether any work has been done on the equipment recently or if any parts have been replaced. Be sure to include those parts or areas where work has been done on the inspection checklist.

Other areas to look at during an inspection include fluids, how the engine starts and sounds while running, brakes, external damage evidence and more.

6. Take care of your equipment.

Once you purchase a new piece of machinery, you need to have a plan for how you will maintain it. Ideally, the seller provided you with maintenance records that should paint a clearer picture of what work has already been performed – and what may need to be done in the future.

One way to take care of heavy equipment, particularly diesel engines, is to clean their air filter to keep it free of dust, debris and grime that is so easily collected while operation.

By cleaning an air filter with Filter Blaster – a process that’s perfectly safe for your air filter – you will see better engine performance and fuel efficiency. This will not only lead to more productive equipment, but better performance at the job site.

Take a look at our Filter Blaster products or take a look at our frequently asked questions to learn more about cleaning air filters.

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