With ever tightening margins and increased competitiveness in the Construction, Agricultural and Forestry industries, it is now common place for buyers to save money on the everyday rising costs of equipment by purchasing second-hand machinery. However buying used equipment has its own risks and is a task that you must approach sensibly; however if you do approach it with caution great bargains can be found.
It is always sensible especially when looking to buy used machinery to choose a well recognized and respected brand, these would include ones we have all heard of like, John Deere, JCB, Caterpillar, New Holland, Massey Ferguson and Claas Combines, and for smaller machines like mini diggers and compact tractors well-known manufactures would include Kubota or Honda who make superb mowers and ATV machines.
Buying a used but well-respected brand ensures that the Spare parts for construction equipment will be far easier to get hold of when you get the inevitable breakdown and as we all know when the machine is down it can’t earn you money, also the well-respected brands have reputations they must uphold so they will work hard to build quality machines which should last for many years if looked after correctly. The other advantage to buying a good brand is the fact that depreciation costs will be kept to a minimum therefore enabling you to get a better price when it is your turn to sell it, this in the longer term could actually save you money.
When you first see the equipment the first place to look is underneath. Have a look to see if there are any serious oil leaks. Some older machines will have the odd drip which may mean the piece of equipment you are looking at may need a bit of a transmission fluid top up or back axle oil top up but if it is any more than the odd drip then you are well advised to steer clear from it and look elsewhere. Have a look on the roof of the cab to check for scrapes especially with tractors, combines and used “farm” machinery that may have been a bit too close to the low branch of a tree. Have a look in the cab to check the condition and wear around the seat and steering wheel.
If buying from a dealer you should ask where it came from and if the previous owner used it with care, serviced it regularly and what work it had been subjected to, if you buy straight from the previous user have a look at his site or yard and see if it is neat and tidy or a real mess. If the site or farm is in a mess then he probably did not look after or service the equipment sufficiently. Once you have given the machine a good look the next step is to feel the engine and check it is cold to make sure you see and hear the engine start from cold, then check the oil using the dip stick, is it really black and thick or is it at the right level?
Now it is time to insert the key and start the machine. It should start in a lively fashion with minimal turns of the engine. The engine must sound smooth and all the functions and hydraulics must work correctly with no hydraulic oil leaks or strange noises when you use the controls. Finally take the machine for a drive and make sure the clutch gears and braking systems are working. All outside lights should be tested and possibly the most important function of all, check the air conditioning!!
After being this thorough while checking the used machine you should have a good feel for its condition. If there are any minor faults you should use them as a bargaining tool to bring the sellers price down.