Most Important Areas to Inspect Before Buying a Heavy Piece of Equipment

If you are like most other construction or heavy equipment company owners you know the importance of purchasing the right piece of equipment for the right job. You also understand the importance of getting the most bang for the buck. Many trucking companies and construction companies purchase slightly used heavy equipment to save on their bottom line but occasionally they get stuck with someone else’s problems which defeats the purpose of buying a used piece of equipment. We have put together this quick guide and checklist to point out some of the most important areas that get missed when buying a piece of heavy equipment.

  • Many pieces of heavy equipment these days are driven solely by hydraulics. From buckets to booms hydraulic fluid is the blood of today’s construction equipment and it needs to be clean, freshly changed and new filters installed. It would even be better to see independent oil analysis testing done on each vehicle to ensure there are no abnormal signs of metal, copper or silicates in the system which would mean abnormal wear on pumps, hoses and cylinders if present.
  • Along with the hydraulic systems running the rigs are the planetary drive gear sets which even if they are leaking can cost over $5000 each to get replaced. During your inspection process you should fully examine the inner & outer seals as well as have the pressure removed from that gear set and have the piece of equipment lifted. While the equipment is lifted and pressure is removed from the track or wheel assembly take a pinch bar and see if there is any play by putting pressure between the rear of the gear assembly and the axle housing. Also be sure to use a flashlight and fully check for any cracks inside the wheel well & on the backside of the gear housing.
  • Another major item that can cost 1000’s of dollars for repair is the center pivot bearing or steering hinge joint. This area is a little trickier to inspect for wear because of its location and the potential of bodily injury. The best way to check this bearing is to use the bucket and put pressure towards the ground and see if there is any movement in the bearing area. During this testing it is best to put a lockout device on the steering controls to ensure the vehicle does not pivot and the inspector is fully protected from the severity of being pinched in the joint.
  • Lastly and likely the most overlooked and most important system on many newer pieces of heavy equipment is the automatic lubricating system. Many of these systems often get clogged, have bad check valves or cracked grease lines which get overlooked because of the dirt and grime that is on most heavily used vehicles. Once cleaned thoroughly, have the system push grease and fully examine the automatic lubrication system from reservoir, pump, and lines and to all the fittings to ensure grease is flowing as it should. As the system pushes grease you should be able to open a purge fitting at the furthest point and receive grease. If you do not receive grease at this location continue to allow the pump to run, sometimes there is a build up of air in the system which needs to be purged. If after a few minutes no grease makes it to the furthest point then there are some other issues in the system and further testing needs to be done.

This article is brought to you by Steven Paul is the owner of Test Drive Technologies Vehicle Inspection Solutions a pre-purchase vehicle inspection company out of St Louis, Missouri. Steven has over 15 years of automobile and heavy equipment repair experience on all types of vehicles from tractors, loaders, excavators and dozers and uses this experience to help others avoid used vehicle buying mistakes.