Guide to Buying Heavy Equipment
Road building machinery, construction equipment, mining equipment and heavy equipment for other purposes represents a significant investment.
This means that whatever type of heavy equipment you need – from bulldozers and excavators to motor graders, loaders or cranes – it’s important to buy right. In other words, pay the best possible price for equipment that will perform as required, for as long as possible.
Buying heavy equipment – new or used?
If you need heavy equipment just for a short-term project, hiring the equipment may be a solution. However, hiring equipment doesn’t add to the value of your business – and for any longer-term need, it’s more cost-effective to buy.
Advantages of buying new can include benefitting from recent technological advances, full warrantees and reliable, on-going technical support. But the cost of new heavy equipment, especially translated into South African currency, can be prohibitive.
Potential advantages of buying used heavy equipment are as follows:
saved capital can be applied elsewhere in the business
you avoid losses due to heavy initial depreciation on new equipment
there’s little to no waiting time for delivery.
The down side of buying used heavy equipment is increased risk. Problems with machinery may become apparent only once it’s put into full operation, and there may be no recourse if you’ve bought through second-hand markets.
Rebuilt heavy equipment is a third option. It represents the best of both worlds – the equipment is much less expensive than new but has been fully reconditioned to ensure it performs like new. It’s typically offered with a full warrantee.
What to look for when buying heavy equipment
Keep these key questions in mind when considering a purchase of second-hand heavy equipment.
Who is the seller?
Finding a reputable seller might not seem straightforward, but if in doubt, ask to see the seller’s inspection reports. You’ll get a good idea of what level of quality they deal in. Naturally, positive recommendations from other buyers are also a good indicator.
Is it still under warranty?
Try to find equipment that’s still under warranty. Lots of construction and earth-moving machines have fairly long warranty periods, in either years or work hours.
Does the machine have a good service history?
You want to be sure that the machine has been well-maintained and regularly serviced. Ask to see the service records and query any noticeable gaps.
Is it a reputable brand?
Go for the more well-known and reputable brands where possible. If you’re unsure, do some research on which brands are known to be durable and reliable.
How many hours has the machine worked in total?
The age of the machine is a consideration but the work hours it has done are more important. Once equipment has been operated for more than a certain number of hours, it’s inevitably more prone to failure. So when there’s a choice between similar machines, opt for the one that has done fewer work hours.
Does it pass inspection?
Give the equipment a thorough once over, making sure to check for leaks, any damage and signs of how well it has been looked after. If you’re not sure what to look for, it may be worth hiring an inspector to assist you.
Can you test drive it?
Don’t consider buying any construction equipment until you’ve taken it for a test drive. If a seller refuses to let you test equipment, walk away.
Listen for unusual noises
When you do your test drive, let the machine run for a few minutes and listen for any unusual noises. These include knocking, whining or singing, creaking or squeaking when the machine is in motion.
Ask the seller if the machine has had any new parts installed. This can extend the life of the machine. However, if the new parts were installed because of an accident, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Avoid brands that have been discontinued. It will be harder to get replacement parts when you need to make repairs.
Signs of repair
Weld marks on the body or a new paint job might be signs that the machine was damaged. No matter how good the repair job, this may affect the longevity of the heavy equipment.