United Rentals Outlines Five Considerations When Buying Used Equipment

Here are some factors to consider when buying used equipment:

Buy from a reputable dealer. Just as there are bad used car investments, there are bad used equipment investments. Work with a reputable dealer or rental equipment company. This approach will make it more likely to get a well-maintained unit made by a reliable manufacturer with a long remaining useful life.

Check the maintenance history. The downside of buying used equipment is the increased cost of maintaining an older machine, though often the math still comes out in favor of buying used. Ask for proof that a machine has received regularly scheduled preventive maintenance, including oil changes, air filter changes, fluid changes and other manufacturer-recommended services. Also ask for recent repair records to understand what systems, if any, have had recent service.

Conduct an inspection. To make sure the equipment does not have any obvious issues, conduct a basic inspection. Look for signs of age or damage, such as rust, hairline cracks or repair welds. Check the oil filter’s date, which should be recent. Examine the air filter. Check the engine fluids to see if they are dirty, low or contaminated. Check hydraulic hoses and look for worn hydraulic cylinders or leaks. Look for visible oil leaks. Examine the tracks or tires if the machine has them. For extra assurance as to a machine’s condition, bring a service technician or mechanic for their expert eye.

Weigh use hours more than age. An older machine may or may not have more service hours left on it than a newer machine. Check the hour meter and compare the annual usage to the average annual usage for that type of equipment. Also consider the nature of the operating environment the machine endured, including the work it was doing and weather conditions it was deployed in.

Try before you buy. A company should ask if it can test the equipment before purchasing. Make sure the equipment starts and stops as expected and that the engine, if there is one, runs smoothly and doesn’t produce any unusual exhaust. Put all the controls through their paces.

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