Operating Hours

The shelf life of a heavy machine is contingent on its total hours of operation, unlike trucks or cars which are determined by mileage. All machines have an intrinsic clock that keeps an eye on the number of hours it has been in operation. The duration with which the equipment has been operating in contrast to how old it is will be determinant as to whether the machine has been under or overused. For instance, you can take two similar models manufactured in the same year, however, one machine may have fewer hours of operation, essentially making it worth more when it comes to functionality.

Getting accurate info about the total operating period of a machine, though not a single consideration, can assist to show how much working time it may have in it, buying used industrial equipment at the surplus network with confidence. Moreover, it can also show what you should anticipate in upcoming repair, replacement, and maintenance requirements.


The fluids contained in a machine are similar to its vital signs, and their state can assist you to decipher the current health situation of the machine. The fluids to assess on a second-hand piece of machinery include the coolant, engine oil, transmission fluid, and hydraulic fluid.  If you see that the fluids appear clean and are at a reasonable level, it can be an indication that the equipment was cared for appropriately in the past. On the other hand, if the mentioned fluids are at a low level or contaminated, it could be an indication that the equipment was neglected over time.

Pay keen attention to tell-tale signs such as foaming in the coolant or water in the engine oil and request the seller for an oil sample. These signs are a clear indication that the equipment is likely to develop more serious problems like a blown head gasket or other critical engine malfunctions. Make sure to include these factors in the asking price citing the need for replacements and repairs. This is the best way you can get value for money spent on a 2nd hand-heavy machine.

Engine Exhaust

Among the key factors to take into account when purchasing second-hand construction machinery is what occurs when you start the engine. When you turn the engine on, you want it to run seamlessly. If it is experiencing any difficulty, then it’s an indication of possible engine issues. Be very keen when it comes to the exhaust. When the engine is running, you may see white, black, or blue smoke being emitted. Blue smoke means that there’s an oil leak that’s making the engine overheat, black smoke means there’s a filtration issue and white smoke suggests that either the coolant or water is spilling into the engine oil.

While assessing the exhaust of the notice, also feel for any vibrations or unusual sounds. When you are keen on what you hear and feel, you’ll understand the health condition of the engine.

Maintenance History

More than any other information you acquire, the maintenance records of the machine will give a clear picture of its current condition. As the seller a comprehensive record detailing the history of the machine, including if the proper maintenance guidelines provided by the manufacturer were followed. A detailed account will act as a blueprint and show if the equipment was properly maintained.

Be very keen when it comes to fluid changes, like transmission fluids and hydraulic fluids, and engine oil, and request the seller to give you an oil sample. Additionally, check how frequently the filters have been replaced and cleaned or if they require any big parts rebuilds or replacements. Replacement components should always be guaranteed by the manufacturer, so make a point of inquiring about any new components of the machine. The maintenance history of the machine will show you what the equipment has undergone along with what possible problems you may encounter in the future.

Indications of Wear and Tear

All 2nd hand machinery will come with indications of depreciation to some extent. However, it’s integral to differentiate what’s standard and expected wear and tear from what’s an apparent indication of misuse and neglect. Inspect the undercarriage of the machine for indications of depreciation, including rust. Check for any indications of recent repairs. The repairs may have been done haphazardly in a bid to improve the appearance of the machine to impress you before selling.  

Do a comprehensive walk-through of the machine from top to bottom, checking the back, front, and sides of the equipment. Look for any structural damage like hairline cracks that could lead to welding patches or deeper breaks that show weak areas. Evaluate the cab and check for any indications of body damage. Lastly, make sure to check on the tracks or tires. Worn-out tracks and tires will warrant a replacement, further increasing your investment cost.

Test Drive

If the 2nd hand equipment you’ve narrowed down to looks like it has been well-cared for and maintained, the next thing to do is to make sure by having a test drive and demand a professional evaluation. Get your operator to visit the site and give the machine a try before you make the purchase. There’s no reliable information that can match hands-on experience.

Toggle with the various features and controls and test it at every speed level. While the machine is on, be keen on vibrations or sounds that occur during particular movements like clunking or grinding. If the machine isn’t functioning properly, it can put you at risk. A test drive will put your mind at ease about any safety concerns about the machine.

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