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Buying Used Equipment Tips

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The following are good generic rules when buying any kind of used equipment.

  • First, do your research to determine which models or equipment is known to be high, medium or low quality. In general, high quality should be sought as the ROI tends to be better over the long run.
  • Cost of ownership: Fully understand the cost of operation, the ability to get replacement parts, and any maintainability criteria. What is the waste product of the equipment? Are there known high maintainability factors you need to consider? Remember that the cost of any particular equipment is equal to the purchase price plus the cost of operation.
  • Reputation of seller:  There are many reputable equipment resellers however there will never be a shortage of unscrupulous sales organizations. Invest a reasonable amount of effort to understand whom you are doing business with.
  • Cost of new vs used: Most likely you're buying used to save money but be sure that you understand the cost of new similar machines. I personally was in the market to buy a used compact tractor years ago. The cost of new vs ten year old tractors was less than 10%. I went ahead and bought new, with a factory warranty and dealer support. Best decision I could have made. Used does not mean it is a better investment.
  • Options and add-ons: What do you actually need in the equipment you're buying? Paying more for options you won't use may increase to total cost of ownership. Be sure that you fully understand the "must-haves" in the equipment you are buying.
  • Manufacturers recalls: Is the equipment up to date per. the manufacturers recall or any other required update. Often, recalls and updates require that the original owner initiate the update process. Also there could be a time limit on getting a factory funded update - you don't want to find out after the purchase that expensive safety upgrades are required.
  • Is the equipment upgradeable: If your requirements change can the equipment be upgraded? If not it might be worth spending a little more on something which is more future-proof.
  • Cosmetics: Look for overspray or painted-over decals or other modification that could indicate intent to cover up a problem.
  • New parts: If available, verify maintenance records. If they say the equipment was properly maintained that's good however without verifiable records assume the maintenance has not been done.
  • Product Model or Identification Number: Verify the equipment is what they say it is. Ask for evidence of ownership, last sales documentation, etc..
  • What’s included in the equipment purchase: Do you know what cables, oil supply tanks, skids and accessories you require and will the bargain system ship with all of these? Are you getting the original operator or maintenance manuals?. What about any available consumables or parts which require regular replacement (e.g. batteries), are any supplies included? Does the price include transportation costs, taxes and import duties. Who pays for any transit insurance?
  • Very Clean Machine: Could be a sign of good maintenance or an effort improve the attract-ability of the machine. Look for fresh oil leaks and "new-looking" paint that was, until recently, protected by years of built-up grease.
  • Oil tricks: Verify viscosity requirements of any equipment oil. Thicker oils are sometimes present to reduce leakage. If possible, get an analysis of the used oil within the machine.
  • Just overhauled: Look for physical evidence of an overhaul. Look at gasket edges, new parts, etc. Ask to see receipts or invoices for the work. If there are no receipts or a verifiable rebuilt then proceed as thou there has not been an overhaul.
  • Dealers and Salespersons: Are salespersons genuinely helpful, or do you seem pressured to buy? Look for warning signs that could indicate a less then sincere sales person.
  • Run and drive it: If possible, operate the machine. Observe any start-up problems, electrical anomalies or unusual sounds. If possible, operate the machine long enough to check for any changes in operation.
  • Warranties or guarantees: Get all guarantees, warranties in writing. If possible get a contractual guarantee that the equipment can be returned if major failures or as-advertised functionality is not met. Some suppliers offer ongoing technical support and this is particularly valuable if you are not familiar with the equipment.

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