How to Know You’re Getting a Good Value on Used Construction Equipment

Value Used Equipment
Anyone who runs a construction company or works in agriculture knows that equipment costs are one of the leading expenses they face. One way to keep your costs down is to buy used construction equipment, but how do you know if you’re getting high-quality equipment that will last for years? Making good business decisions when it comes to purchasing equipment, whether new or used, is just as important as hiring a good crew and producing high-quality workmanship. Your equipment is a reflection of your business ethics, so you’ll want to make sure that your heavy machinery shows your commitment to the growth of your company.

While you can probably find used equipment values through classified ads or online websites such as Craigslist or Machine Finder, your best bet is to look for used equipment sales from a reputable dealer, like Boyd CAT CAT in Louisville, Kentucky. Buying pre-owned equipment is a cost-effective solution that can save your company thousands of dollars while still providing you with a high-quality brand that is backed by a company with a solid reputation.


Buying Farm and Agriculture Equipment

Whether you’re buying new or used machines, there are a few general tips you should keep in mind. First, consider your overall needs and how you’ll be using the equipment. In some cases, you might qualify for a government grant that will help you make large purchases. There are several government-based organizations, such as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education group, that offer grants or can help you apply for funding from other sources. Local community organizations and co-op groups that specialize in construction and agriculture growth can also be another resource for loans or grants. Networking with professional organizations or local banks and staying up to date with the grant resources in your area can be a great way to lessen your debt burden when it comes to making major purchases.

How to Shop for Used Equipment

Once you’ve determined your equipment needs, check online to see what the cost comparison is for new equipment compared to used. Since farm and construction equipment is built to last under tough work conditions for many years, you can be fairly confident that the machine you’re looking to buy will serve you for several seasons.

There are, however, a few things you should consider when shopping for used machinery. Here are some basic tips:


Warranties On EquipmentWhen you start shopping for used heavy equipment for sale, be sure to look for machines that are still under warranty. Many farm and agriculture machines are backed by a five-year warranty or several hundred work hours, if not longer. These warranties should transfer to a new owner, so if the equipment you are considering is only a few years old, you might be able to get the original factory guarantee. This can take the worry out of buying a used machine and give you the peace of mind that your equipment will last for years. Ask your dealer about any factory-offered warranties that are still in place for the equipment and find out if the dealer themselves guarantees the equipment. They might also offer a warranty you can purchase for an additional price, which you will need to consider as part of the overall cost for the equipment.

New Parts

Ask the company selling the equipment if any new parts have been added. New tires or a new battery can extend the overall life of the equipment but, in some cases, it might indicate that there has been damage to the machine. Stay away from used farm equipment that has been damaged in an accident or a severe weather event — this is especially important in areas that are prone to hurricanes and tornadoes. Pre-owned equipment that has been well taken care of and has a few upgrades, however, can be a great investment as long as you understand why these upgrades have been made.

Reputable Names

The obvious way to buy high-quality used agricultural equipment is to stick with well-known brands. Even though you might come across an individual dealer who built his equipment by hand, you’ll want to stick with a trusted name for your largest expenses, unless you know that this particular seller has a sterling reputation in the community. Think of it this way — would you rather buy a $45,000 BMW from a licensed dealer who offers a warranty or a $30,000 BMW from some guy across town who rebuilt the engine himself? Although you might save money up front, you want to make purchases that guarantee on-going service and maintenance.

Age and Hours

Unlike consumer motor vehicles, which are comparable by their year and mileage — who wants to buy a 1995 vehicle with $750K miles on it? — agriculture and farming equipment is usually rated by service hours. When considering a used heavy equipment value guide, the age or mileage of the equipment shouldn’t be a determining factor.

Depreciation of such equipment does not happen evenly over time the same way as with casual motor vehicles. Instead, the equipment is evaluated based on the hours it’s been working. A well-maintained older machine with lower hours that has, perhaps, been used simply as a backup machine will be worth more than a newer machine with high hours. It comes down to how well the machine was taken care of, so ask for maintenance records and accident reports before you decide to buy. In most cases, you’ll want to buy used heavy equipment that’s no more than eight years old.

Test Drive It

Before making any big purchase, you should see how it handles and whether it’s in good working shape. The dealer you’re working with should have enough space on their lot to allow you to drive the equipment around or to take it on a test dig. If they don’t, ask them to bring it to your property or worksite. Be wary of any used equipment dealers who expect you to make a purchase without the opportunity to see it in action.

Benefit To Test Driving


Service GuaranteesDo a thorough inspection of the equipment before you make an offer or have someone else help you look it over. If you’re buying a tractor but you’re not the person who will operate it, have a trusted employee or friend who has experience with tractors give it the once-over. Pay close attention to the quality of the tires, the look and feel of the engine and the cab. If the machine has a lot of caked-on dirt and doesn’t seem to be in good condition to the naked eye, it’s probably been neglected. A reputable dealer should take the time to clean up the equipment before putting it up for sale.

Negotiate for Newer Parts

If you’re in the market for a used skid steer and it seems to be in good shape but the tires are worn out, ask the dealer to upgrade to newer tires or negotiate a lower price that will allow you to buy the tires yourself. The same goes for belts, pallet forks or any piece of the heavy equipment that seems to be weathered or damaged. One bad piece on an otherwise good machine can be the difference between a purchase that lasts for years and one that will need to be replaced quickly.

Service Guarantees

If the equipment you purchase breaks suddenly or needs a replacement piece, will the dealer be able to assist with repairs? You’ll want to buy your farm or construction equipment from a company, like Boyd CAT , that can service the vehicle in the unlikely event that it breaks. This is another reason why it’s not a good idea to buy major machinery from an individual, since they’ll likely walk away from the sale once it’s completed.

Used Heavy Machine Value

Before taking a look at any used construction machines, you should have an idea of the machine’s value. Do some online research to find a used equipment value guide so you have a ballpark idea of what to expect regarding used equipment prices. Once you have an understanding of how much you might pay for a new tractor, you’ll be better educated to negotiate on used tractor prices.

If you find a deal on heavy equipment that seems too good to be true, it probably is. When you shop for heavy equipment values, make sure you steer clear of the following situations:

Bad Reputations

If the person selling used construction equipment has a bad rating with the Better Business Bureau or simply has a negative reputation in your area, steer clear of their equipment. Ask around with your suppliers and other local construction or agriculture companies to see if the dealer is someone you can trust. If they have a history of bad business transactions, even if the equipment they are offering seems like a good deal, walk away from the transaction. They should also be someone who has been in the community for a while. A dealer who sets up shop to make a few quick used machinery sales, with no real connection to your community, won’t be looking out for your best interests.

Bad Equipment Reputations

Strange Noises

It’s common for heavy equipment to make an occasional thump or knock, but if the machine has a consistent odd noise, it probably hasn’t been cared for properly. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars simply to inherit a problem.

Leaking Fluid

Equipment Brands DiscontinuedLook under the equipment to see if there is a pool of oil or other liquids. Although some leakage can be easily fixed by replacing the hoses, the person selling the equipment should have fixed this problem before putting it on the market. Ongoing leaks are a sign there might be other damage that’s not easily seen by the naked eye.

Discontinued Brands

If the machine you’re considering is no longer on the market, it will be difficult to buy replacement parts. You should purchase your used heavy equipment with the expectation that at some point, you’ll need to make a few repairs. If the brand is no longer made or the production company has gone out of business, it will be difficult to buy new pieces. The last thing you need is a piece of machinery that breaks down and simply gathers dust at your work site.

Weld Marks

When machinery breaks and is replaced by welding, it’s never quite as good as it was when it was new. Even though a well-welded machine can work for several more years, consider how long you’ll be needing it. If you have a one-time job that only lasts a few months, equipment that’s been repaired once or twice might be good enough. But if you are purchasing a tractor or back hoe that you’ll need indefinitely, look for one that hasn’t already been put back together.

Common Machine Purchases

Although equipment needs vary according to company and location, backhoes and tractors are two of the most commonly used pieces of heavy machinery. We’ve provided a detailed list of how to purchase used versions of this equipment, but many of these suggestions can help you develop a construction equipment price guide that will lead you in your search for new-to-you machinery, no matter what you are in the market for.


There’s not much that can be accomplished on a farm without the use of a tractor. Whether you are using it to till your fields or to pull other equipment, you’ll want to be certain the tractor you purchase is up to the challenges of daily farming.

Your first step in buying a used tractor is determining how it will be used. General maintenance can be accomplished with a smaller tractor, but regular field plowing and tilling will require a larger model.

Just like a used car will show mileage on its odometer, a tractor will have a readout showing how many hours it’s been in use. Although, like an odometer, this number can be tampered with. But if you’re dealing with a reputable company and you have faith in the reading, you should look for a tractor that has fewer than 3,000 hours on it. Hours that reach well into the five figures, say 40,000 hours, is too high. Although this type of tractor might have a few years of life left in it, you’ll probably be stuck with repair costs and the search for replacement parts. When you’re considering used tractor values, you want one that will last for several years, so look for one with a lower hour reading.


Backhoes might be used by an agricultural or construction company for just one specific job in a region. Once the project is complete, the owners realize it makes more sense to sell it locally than to ship it to their next job location or let it sit in storage for a few months. This is why it’s a good idea to find out why a particular piece of used construction machinery is being sold. If it comes from a reputable company that was contracted to a big project but has now finished the project and is pulling out of the area, you might be about to score a great deal on used heavy machinery for sale.

Buy Used Backhoe

Like any specialized equipment, when looking at used backhoes for sale, there are some specific things you need to check to make sure the equipment is still in good shape. Keep the following in mind when you consider making a backhoe purchase:

  • The hydraulic hoses should not show signs of overuse. Hoses that appear to be brittle and dry will need to be replaced. If the rest of the backhoe seems to be in good condition, ask for a discount equal to the amount of money you’ll need to install new hoses.
  • Check the arm, bucket and boom for welding marks, which will indicate that it’s been repaired. Repairs to these areas that weren’t made by a certified professional will likely fail again. Ask the owner for information about why these repairs were made, who made them and how many times it’s been repaired.
  • Check for rust. The appearance of rust around the hinges and kingpin may be a sign that the equipment has sat around unused for a while and was exposed to weather elements. By itself, this might not be a bad thing since it indicates that the machine was not overused, but you’ll want to find out how long it sat idle and if there was a reason it wasn’t being used. For example, did it underperform, or was it simply no longer needed on a particular job site?
  • Look for wear. Especially in the loader bucket, there shouldn’t be more than 50 percent wear. If the loader bucket seems worn down, you might need to replace it soon after your purchase. Rather than moving on to a different machine, ask the dealer if they can replace the loader bucket for a reduced fee if you buy the backhoe. If the dealer seems uninterested in negotiating, take your business elsewhere.
  • The engine. Before a dealer or private seller puts their backhoe on the market, they should clean the engine and replace, or at least clean out, the air filters. If this hasn’t been done, it might be an indication of neglect for the overall equipment. Oil and antifreeze should also be topped off and free from debris. If someone tries to sell you a backhoe with little oil, this can be a red flag that the seller is simply trying to dump the equipment and might be less than honest about its condition. Any used equipment on the market should be in top show quality if the dealer has a good reputation.
  • Hydraulic cylinders. Hydraulics are one of the most important parts of farm or construction equipment, and backhoes are no exception. Cracks or cuts to the hydraulic lines that are noticeable to naked eye mean that oil leaks aren’t far behind. These leaks will result in a loss of performance from the machine and can, eventually, cause it to stop working altogether. Ask the seller to replace any tubing or cylinders that are showing wear and tear.

Why Trust Boyd CAT

When you are in the market for used machinery for your farm or construction company, and you’re in the Kentucky, Southern Indiana, West Virginia and Southeastern Ohio areas serviced by Boyd CAT CAT, you can be sure you’re dealing with a reputable company that will stand behind their merchandise. Boyd CAT celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2013, so you know that we value our customers and provide excellent service. Visit our full inventory of used construction and agricultural equipment online or call 844-366-8233 for more information. Boyd CAT CAT also offers an extensive collection of used machinery, including tractors, trucks, backhoes and skid steers from trusted names like CAT, Lexion, TerraGator and White Planter.

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