There are many ways to score great deals when buying aerial lifts on a budget. But you need to be careful when buying used. Whether you’re purchasing aerial lifts directly from a rental yard or from an online auction, it’s important to make sure you’re making a researched, informed decision.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the benefits of buying used equipment, what to look out for when you buy used equipment, where you can get the best deals on used equipment, and best practices for utilizing those venues.
Why Buy Used?
First, weigh the options of purchasing new equipment vs. buying used. Are you sure that your rental yard can support the purchase of new machines? If you’re concerned about maintaining healthy ROI (return on investment), consider purchasing used equipment.
There are great reasons to buy used over new:
- Used equipment is less expensive. One new machine may be equal to the price of two used machines in great condition.
- Initial depreciation isn’t a problem. When you purchase new aerial lifts, they can depreciate in value by 20-40% in the first year of ownership.
- Well-maintained aerial lifts are still valuable. If the equipment has a history of preventative maintenance and cosmetic updates, it’s possible to get close to what you paid for it when it’s time to sell.
- The market is massive. When you choose to buy used, you are not limited to one specific brand that happens to be offering the latest and greatest machines. Search online or attend in-person auctions.
Problems to Watch For
If you have decided to purchase a used machine, learn to spot the signs of poor equipment. Buying a faulty aerial lift could be a costly mistake. Look out for the following red flags that are surefire signs you shouldn’t buy.
Does the engine fail to start, or does it have a weak start coupled with plumes of smoke?
No matter what explanation a dealer may provide for this occurrence, beware! Request to test run the machine. If your request for a test is denied, that’s even more cause to worry, unless the machine is sold with an iron-clad warranty. If testing the machine is permitted and you’re still interested in purchasing, be sure to try all speeds and movements.
Have you determined that coolant and oil haven’t mixed together?
This could negatively impact the engine’s ability to function properly.
Are the tires in good condition?
Do you spot any signs of tread wear? Weather cracking? Cuts deeper than ¼ inch are also an indication of problems down the road.
Are fluids leaking from any part of the machine, including underneath it?
Have a look at the underside of the machine. If you spot residual stains, it’s likely the equipment has been spurting lubricant or fuel. Additionally, there should be no leaks coming from the hydraulic tank or its fittings, steering cylinder, valve manifold and fittings, fuel tank and fittings, muffler, or engine oil filter.
Was the machine seized?
If the machine was repossessed, it may not have been cared for correctly.
Do you see signs of welding?
When a break occurs, the machine is welded. The fix is never as strong or as straight as the original steel it came with. It’s also important to check for any other damage the machine may have incurred that necessitated the welding in the first place.
Do you hear strange noises?
If they’re coming from the brakes or drive train, it’s import to find out if the problem is so complex that scrapping the machine is more economical than repairing it.
Has the machine accumulated a lot of operating hours?
If an aerial lift is well maintained, the amount of operating hours is obsolete, but it’s still a good idea to ask how often the equipment was used – daily, weekly, and monthly. If the equipment has been sitting unused for a long period of time, proceed with caution.
Has the equipment been involved in any accidents?
Despite outward appearances, any accidents or mishaps may cause damage that isn’t visible to the eye.
Are the computer controls in working condition?
New iterations of aerial equipment feature computer-based controls. Look out for corrosion in the wiring harnesses. Most importantly, you’ll need to make sure that all software updates are current.
If you have the serial number, you can contact the manufacturer and they will be able to tell you about those updates. They’ll also be able to give you a warranty history of the aerial lift.
Does the machine have loose brakes?
A good way to check for loose brakes is by running the machine under 5mph for a period longer than one minute. Then, run at maximum speed and drive around for at least five minutes. Test all brake situations and conditions and take notice if any strange noises occur.
Getting Good Value
How do you know you’re getting the best value on the equipment you wish to buy? If you plan to purchase through an auction house you can view past auction results to get a sense of the price history on comparable machines. You can then use that information and compare it with other online retailers or even sellers on eBay. The Ritchie Brothers site has a list of auctions in North America, which you can attend in person.
If an in-person inspection is not possible, try utilizing eBay. The selection is enormous, but sift through options carefully. Check seller ratings and take them seriously. Never purchase from a seller with a rating lower than 95% satisfaction.
Try to buy equipment as close to your location as possible. You may have gotten a good deal on an aerial lift, but shipping costs from far-away locations will make it expensive. Additionally, buying close to your location might mean you can inspect the equipment in person.
You will also need to consider sales tax and insurance terms for out-of-state purchases. You may even have to put down a deposit or down payment to hold the lift. All in all, if the online seller is forthright, has superior quality machines, and the buyer has done their homework, buying directly from sellers online can prove to be very efficient.
If you’re not sure you want to navigate the search for new aerial equipment alone (especially if you’re a first-time buyer), consider partnering with Coast to Coast Equipment. We specialize in buying used equipment and our knowledgeable sales team is here to assist you.
Let's start our partnership today! Our latest eBook gives you industry insider tips and tricks designed to take your rental yard business to the next level. Click below to get your copy.