Used Equipment Concerns (And How to Solve Them)

If your rental yard maintains a large fleet of aerial lifts, it’s likely you’ll need to buy used equipment at some point during the fiscal year. If you’re a smart consumer, it’s understandable that you may have some used equipment concerns about purchasing.

Reduce your risk of getting a bad deal by learning the ins and outs of the used equipment buying process. In this post, we’ll look at the aspects of buying and selling used equipment including research and inspection. You will learn how to spot potential negative consequences and how to resolve them.

Problem: You want to buy a used aerial lift and you’ve found the perfect make, model, and asking price, but you don’t know the seller.

used equipment concerns

It doesn’t matter if you’re purchasing equipment from a dealer, auction house, or online outlet – confirming that you are working with a legitimate seller or business is always the first thing you need to do.

Here are a few ways you can identify a fake:

Search public company records.

Working with a publicly traded company lessens the chance of fraud. Opt for companies with large customer bases and a long history of doing business.

Read customer testimonials.

Check out the company’s website and make sure there’s plenty to read. Determine whether they appear to be updated recently. Testimonials from years ago may no longer be relevant. If you can’t find any testimonials on the website, contact them directly and ask them to provide you with referrals.

Browse online reviews.

eBay, Facebook, and Google provide better opportunities for reading unbiased reviews due to high traffic volume. Reviewers will score products or service experience accordingly. If there are only a few reviews and ratings, it’s a bit harder to gauge overall sentiment about the company or seller. Businesses or individual sellers with lots of reviews that still have a high average score (4.5 or better is recommended) are a safer bet. Look closely for reports of customer complaints and see if these issues were routinely resolved, ignored, or met with hostility.

Hit up the Better Business Bureau.

Visit (U.S. and Canada) to search for the company selling the used equipment you wish to buy. You’ll be able to find any consumer complaints that have been reported against them.

Perform a background check.

Perform a background check. Confirm that there are no liens placed on the machine or that the equipment itself isn’t stolen. You’ll also need to find out if the seller owns the machine outright. If this doesn’t seem to be clear, you can request that the seller presents you with an invoice for the aerial lift. The seller’s name and the name on the invoice should match exactly. To establish that you’re not about to purchase a stolen aerial lift, contact your local police station and ask them to run the number. Additionally, make use of the National Equipment Register’s IRONcheck feature, which tracks stolen equipment.

Get a financing plan.

Financing your equipment is also an excellent way to ensure your transaction is legitimate. Most banking institutions will establish that the machine has not been reported as stolen as part of the financing process.

Confirm the true owner.

Ownership of aerial lifts can’t be transferred from a seller to a buyer if the seller hasn’t paid back the money they borrowed from a bank or financing company to purchase it to begin with. The title certificate will indicate who actually owns the aerial lift. If there is a remaining balance, the financing company or bank will appear on the title certificate as the owner. Only when the equipment has been paid for in full can ownership be legally transferred. Without confirming that the equipment has been paid for, your ownership could be forfeited to a bank even though you have paid for the machine. Reputable auction sites will confirm that there are no liens applied to the equipment before the auction.


Problem: You’ve been granted the opportunity to inspect a machine in person, but you don’t know what to look for.

You can reference the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines for aerial lift inspection. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • Test the brakes of the aerial lift.
  • Test all functions of the machine at all speeds.
  • Ensure that there are no fluid leaks and that the machine has proper fluid levels
  • Check the health of tires, wheels, batteries, chargers, horns, gauges, lower level controls, lights, steering, brakes, and back-up alarms.
  • Ensure that the lift components are in good shape, including operating and emergency controls, personal protective devices, electrical, fuel, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems, insulating components like fiberglass.
  • Check for placards that are missing or illegible, which includes control markings and operational instructions.
  • Ensure that the mechanical fasteners, locking pins, cable wiring, harnesses, outriggers, stabilizers, guardrail systems, and any other structures are in good working condition.
  • Check for any missing or loose parts.


Problem: You’re purchasing online or from a private seller, but you’re nervous about the payment process.

Leave a traceable payment trail. If you’re purchasing an aerial lift from a private seller or from the internet, you need to be sure you’re covered in case the equipment you purchased never makes it to your rental yard or arrives in terrible condition.

Opt for sites that have a secure escrow process. That way, any payments you make are held in escrow until your equipment is successfully delivered. Always ask for an invoice or receipt that declares you as the rightful owner of the aerial lift. Never pay in cash. Instead, use a certified check, as it will leave a paper trail that proves you really paid for the equipment.

Want to learn more about the equipment industry? Check out the latest offer from Coast to Coast Equipment!

Click here to download your free  Rental Yard Best Practices eBook!

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