1) Unusually High or Low Hours
The first thing you should look at is the hour meter. High hours can ultimately lead to big bucks in repairs. If you are on the fence, ask the seller to provide updated maintenance records to prove the equipment has been regularly maintained and serviced. Unusually low hours can also be a red flag as unscrupulous sellers have been known to replace the hour meter without relaying this information to the buyer. A good tip is to check the screws that hold the meter in place for scuffs and wear indicating it may have been changed.
2) Untrustworthy Dealers
When buying used construction equipment, always make sure you are purchasing from a reputable equipment dealer or rental house. Do a background check for online reviews, customer testimonials, and Better Business Bureau reports. This due diligence can potentially save you thousands of dollars in repairs and legal fees. The last thing you want to do is get into legal trouble by purchasing stolen equipment or equipment with outstanding bank liens. Trust your seller or look elsewhere.
3) Missing or Incomplete Service Records
4) Leaks and Other Obvious Visual Issues
Also look for any signs that the machine has undergone additional welding since it’s manufacture as fresh welds may be hiding a more serious issue.
Hairline cracks on the frame or undercarriage may indicate that the machine has been in an accident. This is especially true for the undercarriage, which can be expensive to repair or replace.
While inspecting the machine, make sure to check all fluid levels and colors (coolant, transmission fluids, engine oil, hydraulic oil, etc.). Low fluid levels or dirty fluid may suggest that the previous owner may not have given the machine the care it needs.
5) Issues When Starting and Running the Machine
Always attempt to start the machine before making your final decision. If the equipment does not start after the first crank or two, it’s time to investigate further as there could be serious engine issues. It can also be something minor like a dead battery or loose wire. If the unit does start, run it cold for a few minutes or so, checking the color of the smoke exiting the exhaust system. Extremely dark black, blue, or white smoke can indicate severe engine troubles. Blue smoke can indicate that the engine is burning oil. Black smoke can indicate that the engine fuel mixture is too rich and white smoke can indicate that there is coolant leakage into one or more combustion chambers.