Searching Online for Used Construction Equipment: How to evaluate a listing
Do you remember what searching for used construction equipment was like before Google? Your search would begin with a magazine that showed up in your mailbox once a month or a trader you picked up at a gas station. As you flipped through the publication and found a machine you liked, you would then call the seller to see if it was still available. That’s when you’d have a chat with the seller to learn more about the machine — sometimes the seller would even mail out a few Polaroid pictures for you to “see” it. From there, you would decide if it was worth your time to look at the machine in person. If you decided to buy the machine, you still had to line up transportation and financing…and another trip to the seller’s location. By the time it was all said and done, you probably invested well over 40 hours of time into the transaction over the course of one or two months.
Today, buying used equipment is certainly easier, but you still need to know what to look for online to ensure you’re not wasting your time or being scammed.
Know where to start your search
The most efficient and best way to avoid being scammed when buying used equipment is by sticking to well-known and respected used equipment listing sites.
Here is a list of sources the IEDA recommends:
Used Equipment Listings:
- Machinery Trader
- Rock & Dirt
- Construction Equipment Guide
- Resale Weekly
Used Equipment Locator Services
Sites like Craigslist.org and ebay.com also have a lot of used equipment listings, but shopping on these sites carries more risk, and you cannot afford to take those kinds of chances with something as important as your company’s equipment needs.
Validate the seller
If your search begins on one of the sites listed above, you’re likely working with a reputable used equipment seller. However, you should also do your best to learn more about the seller. If you’re considering a listing from equipment dealers, the first thing to check out is if they are a member of the IEDA. Its members have been vetted by the Association and have been recognized as trustworthy and honest business partners in the used equipment industry. For other dealerships and private sellers, be sure to do a little online research or ask for references before buying.
Depending on the website and seller, many listings have different formats. And if you’ve been scrolling through a lot of listings, it may start to look the same. That’s why it’s important to write down a basic checklist of things to look for when evaluating used equipment. Here’s a quick overview of what should be included:
- Machine make
- Hours — Most will include “working” hours. However, the hours tracked by the machine’s engine control module (ECM) can provide a better representation.
- Serial number — This is critical so that you can check with the OEM about the machine’s history including the original owner, warranty claims and any potential liens on the equipment.
- Machine’s current location
- Detailed description that includes additional features and insight on current condition of the machines
- Photos — while not every seller includes photos. If a listing does not have photos, make sure to ask the seller to take few and/or a video from their phone. Here is the type of photos that are important:
- Front of the machine
- Side of the machine
- Operator’s area
- Hours meter
- Close-up images of common wear areas (example: undercarriage of a dozer)
- Additional nice-to-have details
- Machine specs
- Emissions information
- Inspection report
- Service history and/or repair history
- Description of any recent work performed by the seller
Some dealer listings can also help with financing, transporting, coordinating an independent machine inspection, as well as other helpful services to you, the buyer.
Searching for used equipment online is certainly a lot less time consuming that the old way of searching for equipment. Following these online searching tips will reduce the amount of time you spend online, and it will help to ensure that you know everything you need to know about a machine before taking time out of your busy schedule to inspect a machine for yourself.
And, remember when it comes time to take possession of a machine and money changes hands, a good dealer will make you feel right about the purchase (not pushy). Make sure the deal feels safe beforehand.