Inspection tips: five things to look for when buying a used excavator

Equipment inspection tips Comments

A registered bidder inspecting hydraulic excavators before the auction

Know what to look for when inspecting a used hydraulic excavator. Check for these five things to help determine the value of an item you'™re interested in buying and avoid unexpected repairs or replacement costs:

1. Play or movement

A damaged slew ring can be one of the most costly items to repair or replace in a used hydraulic excavator, so make sure to rotate the hydraulic excavator housing to a quarter turn and check for any play or movement in the slew ring.

CAT hydraulic excavator selling at auction

Look for play or movement at the connection points of the boom, stick and bucket as well. Ideally all pins and bushings should be tight. Any loose connections, particularly at the connection points between the excavator stick and bucket, could mean a loss in excavation accuracy and a need for repairs.

2. Cracks, bends and dents

Cracks are never a good sign, especially when they exist in key connection point welds, such as between the boom and stick or stick and bucket. The existence of cracks or significant bends could mean the excavator'™s overall structural integrity has been negatively affected and the boom or stick will need to be replaced. The existence of large dents on the hydraulic excavator'™s undercarriage or to the top of the excavator€'s stick could mean the machine was used without proper care by its operator.

Excavator component close up

3. Leaks

Open the hydraulic pump compartment and look for signs of leaks. Check all hoses, lines and cylinders. Also check for leaks in the slew ring or swing bearing, which could forewarn of excessive play or movement. Any leaks will need to be repaired to ensure the safe and continued operation of the hydraulic excavator.  

4. Inaccurate/broken hours meter

If the hours meter is not operating or the reading is in question, check the control pedals for wear. Excessive wear could indicate the hydraulic excavator has more operating hours logged than noted.

Inspect the bucket, including teeth and bucket sides

5. Scalloping

Check between the excavator bucket teeth for signs of scalloping, half-mooned shapes. Scalloping does not necessarily indicate that a bucket needs to be replaced, but it does indicate a reduced cutting force.

Any specific things you look for when buying a used excavator? Search all used excavators selling at upcoming auctions.

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mevas on June 04, 2013 said
A few more details are important: Check the swivel joint for leaks. The slew ring bearing has a play limit, good to measure it. A stall test can help to getting info about engine and pump performance. Last but not least it helps to order a professional inspection service such as Honestinspections or MEVAS from Germany.
saileshchudasama on July 28, 2014 said

Do you offer inspection services if I want to buy an excavator?

ozvickijc on July 29, 2014 said in reply to saileshchudasama
Hello Sailesh. We recommend that you hire an independent, third party inspector, or bring a knowledgeable colleague or mechanic to the site to do the inspection for you, if you're not comfortable doing the inspection yourself. Feel free to call the auction site for assistance: