Excavators are indispensable for digging, lifting, and moving earth on construction, landscaping, and demolition projects. Purchasing a used excavator provides excellent value over buying a new one by minimizing upfront costs while still getting years of productivity out of the machine. However, not all used excavators are created equal. There are several important factors to look for when searching for your next pre-owned excavator.
Check hours of use
Hours of operation are the key determinants of how much usable life is left in a used excavator.
- Under 5,000 hours – Nearly new condition for most brands. Lots of productive years remaining. Higher resale value.
- 5,000 to 10,000 hours – Well-used but still has significant life expectancy if properly maintained.
- 10,000 to 15,000 hours – Consider major repairs or component rebuild/replacement forthcoming. Price accordingly.
- Over 15,000 hours – Risk of age-related issues. Should be priced low for the condition. Do a thorough inspection.
Ideally, look for machines with documented hour meters in the 5,000 to 10,000 range to maximize useful life remaining while still getting a favorable purchase price. Be wary of incorrect or reset hour meters.
Inspect structural components
Pay close attention to the condition of important structural components.
- Frames/chassis – Check alignments, welds, and paint for damage or excessive rust. Both indicate stress or abuse.
- Booms – Inspect for dents, bending, cracks, or excessive corrosion. Ensure smooth boom operation.
- Arms – Look for twisting, scrapes, or cracks that reduce strength. Check the range of motion.
- Buckets – No significant damage, able to attach/detach easily, and minimal wear to cutting edges or teeth.
- Tracks – Evenly worn tracks with adequate life indicate proper maintenance. Check for loose pins or damaged pads.
- Hydraulic cylinders – Ensure tight seals, no drifting, leaks, scoring, or shaft damage.
Well-kept structural components signal careful operation. Be suspicious of cracks, damage, or major rust issues that compromise safety and longevity. Get More Info about used excavators by clicking here.
Observe excavator performance during a test drive.
- Listen for any unusual engine or hydraulic noises that could indicate issues
- Check hydraulic fluid levels. Change filters. Ensure smooth, strong cylinder/actuator function.
- Confirm steady throttle response and proper engine temperature
- Ensure firm brake actuation and proper stopping
- Verify precise and responsive controls. Pressure settings should be factory spec. No wandering.
- Test auxiliary hydraulics like quick coupler or thumb function.
The test drive lets you feel out the excavator for anything subpar and needs repair. Walk away from machines with performance deficiencies.
Research seller reputation
A used excavator’s ownership history is also important – you want responsibly operated machines.
- Government auctions often have well-maintained surplus excavators.
- Rental houses regularly trade in portions of their fleet. Rentals require proper upkeep.
- Construction equipment dealers resell trade-ins that underwent inspection before resale.
- Contractors may offer excavators in good shape from slow seasons or changing fleet needs.
- Be wary of poor-condition excavators from neglectful owners or companies that went out of business.
Dealers and auction websites usually advertise equipment history. Seek excavators from reputable sources known for regular maintenance – they’ll likely have the most operational life and best resale value remaining. The best-used excavator retains many years of productive use while meeting your performance requirements at an affordable price.