There are a host of benefits to buying used machinery when it comes to construction machinery. Firstly, the cost is usually significantly lower than purchasing a brand-new machine. For businesses with stricter budgets to contend with, it allows high-quality machinery to be brought and used for each job. Used machines are likely to hold their value well, if maintained appropriately. And, you’ll avoid the initial depreciation that brand-new equipment suffers from. This can be anywhere between 20 – 40%, so if you’re looking to invest, used may be a more viable option.

With all of its benefits, its vital that you understand what to look out for when purchasing used plant machinery. We’ve pulled together this handy guide with 5 of the main points we recommend paying attention to during any purchase.


The fluids in a machine are there to lubricate all working parts and prevent long-term damage. Any depreciation in these could signal bad news for your machine, especially if they drop far below the recommended amount. Make sure to ask the dealer or check the engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, hydraulic and all other fluids before making your decision. Try to avoid purchasing machines with extremely low or dirty fluids as this could be an indicator that the original owner has not cared for them properly. And, when it comes to engine oil, you want to ensure there is no water mixed in, as this is a bold red warning sign.

Operating Hours:

Always ask how many hours the machine has operated for. Although this isn’t always a clear indicator of its condition, it is a good place to start. Diesel machines tend to be more durable and are able to run successfully for upwards of 10,000 operating hours. However, a petrol one may be more susceptible to damage so this information is always important. It’s worth also remembering that regular maintenance will also help to prolong the lifespan of any vehicle so operating hours are not always the be all and end all.

Maintenance Record:

As with any vehicle, the maintenance record is one of the clearest ways to tell the quality of a used machine. This document should tell you information such as:

How often the fluids have been changed? Whether any small repairs have been carried out. Whether anything large-scale has gone wrong with the machine during its lifetime.

This record should give you all the information you need to make an informed decision regarding any second-hand construction machine.

Signs of wear:

With a second-hand machine, you always expect some level of wear. However, make a note of any hairline fractures, areas of rust or damage that could potentially cause further problems in the future.

Sound of the exhaust:

It’s always worth turning on a machine and listening to the exhaust. This is a clear and easy way to identify any issues. Look out for black or blue smoke which are both indicators that something may not be quite right.