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5 Tips for Buying a Used Dozer

5 Tips for Buying a Used Dozer

1 Dec 2020 Read time: 7 min

Go online. Find the perfect fit. Hit the ‘buy now’ button. The purchase arrives promptly and ready to go. Imagine this process for buying a used dozer. 

While online used equipment shopping may not be quite this easy, the process to buy used machines has come a long way from newspaper classifieds and the first live auctions. Especially this year, as customers have needed and demanded more contact-free shopping experiences, the opportunities to research, browse, then buy equipment online have become even better.

Used equipment is especially popular right now and dozers are one of those necessary, high-production machines essential on most jobsites. Those interested in expanding their fleets can read on for five steps to find and buy a high-quality used dozer. 

1. Finding the Right Seller
One of the best places to find a used dozer is also one of the most familiar – a trusted equipment dealership. Dealer rental fleets are growing. Reputable ones back up the machine with parts and service support, long after the sale. Combined with the quality care and preventative maintenance (PM) dealers put into their machines, companies are able to find the quality used dozer they’re looking for.

There are other options, including private sellers and auctions. However, both require a bit more research to ensure they’re offering good machines with ethical transparency. 

Auctions typically offer the largest quantity of used equipment in one place, great for more selection or those looking for multiple machines. However, buying at auction also comes with unique concerns and risks. Companies that struggle to sell used dozers on their own often look to auctions as a last resort. There’s also no recourse for buyers who end up with a machine that has hidden problems.

When it comes to private sellers, ask around, search for online reviews, and do a little more digging into the seller’s history. Look for red flags such as bad peer reviews, unethical business practices, even records of stolen equipment.

If choosing the route of a private seller, keep in mind his or her goal is to sell the dozer, regardless if it’s a good fit. Keep in mind, a trusted equipment dealer will have a larger inventory and options to choose from. And there will be a vested interest in finding a good fit to create a happy, satisfied, repeat customer. 

2. Research and Browse 
Just as there are numerous sellers of used equipment, there are several avenues an interested buyer can explore to see what’s out there. 

Online shopping reigns supreme, especially in today’s contact-free buying environment. Websites have evolved to be more search-friendly so it’s easy to seek out exactly what’s desired. This includes anything from make and model to technology upgrades on machines like Deere and Topcon’s SmartGrade dozer. Online also offers the most up-to-date inventory selection. And of course there’s the convenience of researching and browsing at home on the couch. 

Speaking of research, most manufacturers have informative comparison and research tools on their sites. RDO Equipment Co. has also expanded its site to include photos, even some video walkarounds of machines, or they can be requested. Those who feel more comfortable purchasing a used dozer at a local dealership can go in with some background on what they’re looking for and what’s out there in the market.

While newspaper classifieds and magazine ads are still used, keep in mind online typically presents the most accurate, up-to-date offerings available.

3. Timing is Everything 
Some industries, agriculture for example, have seasonal factors that affect used equipment availability and price. The construction industry typically doesn’t see those same seasonal factors, however, timing is still important when it comes to finding a good machine and getting a good price. 

Companies should look 30-60 days ahead to see if there’s an expected uptick in their work or a certain type of project coming up that would require the addition of a dozer. This window allows enough time to search options and find what’s desired rather than settle for what’s available last-minute. In the case of working with a dealership that does a lot of rental business, there may be a dozer coming in and offering a unique opportunity to purchase a machine from the dealer’s rental fleet.

A smart buyer will also stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry overall, as market trends often dictate the equipment market. This year has been an interesting one – and certainly one unlike any other – but there’s still opportunity to watch auction prices, keep tabs on new equipment sale prices, and monitor other online used equipment prices.

4. Don’t Forget the Details
When the right make and model dozer is found from a quality seller, it’s a green light to buy, right? Not quite. A thorough investigation must be conducted before buying a used dozer. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier to find more options online, it’s now a bit more difficult to see dozers in person to do visual walkarounds and even jump into the cab for a test drive. But there are still ways to 

First, every buyer should ask to see a full evaluation of the dozer, including hours, records of maintenance intervals, and complete history of the machine and its applications. Ask for additional photos and video – on top of what was available in the online listing – that go into more detail of the machine and those that document major repairs and significant work done. While private sellers or auctions might not be able to provide this level of documentation, reputable dealerships will have full service records, and history of all PM and repairs done on every machine.

When looking at walkaround videos and detailed photos, look for signs of wear, beyond what would be normal and expected for the machine’s hours and previous applications. Excessive track wear and, especially undercarriage wear, are concerning. If not addressed, both could lead to bigger problems, sometimes a full – and expensive – undercarriage replacement. Additional red-flag items are cracks, rust, and leaks. 

Watch two RDO experts discuss the importance of an undercarriage evaluation – something you can request via video if buying a used dozer from RDO.

As most equipment operators and buyers know, machine age isn’t as much a concern as its hours. This is another example of where research and the machine’s undercarriage can be key points in finding the best deal. 

A machine with 1,500-2,000 hours on it should have quite a bit of undercarriage wear left on it, as well as plenty of life left in the engine and hydraulic components, which would meet the criteria to make it a good buy. But don’t rule out an older machine. A dozer with more than 4,000 hours on it that has a recent undercarriage replacement and still has good life left in the engine and hydraulics might be an even better buy. In many cases, warranties follow the machine and typically go to 5,000 or more hours.

5. Maintenance Matters
The final tip for buying a used dozer actually happens long after the machine secures its place in the company’s fleet. As with new equipment, regular maintenance for used dozers is important to protect the investment and extend the machine’s life. And a little effort goes a long way. 

At its most basic, a good PM program can be boiled down to five key steps:
-Daily, visual inspection of the machine before starting, checking for red flags like cracks and leaks
-Daily check and refill of fluids
-Daily greasing of crucial points
-Regular check of the engine, including its air and fuel filters
-Regular documentation of maintenance activities, including significant work and repairs

For companies that don’t have the number of people or those with the right skills to effectively maintain equipment, keep in mind even these basic efforts can go a long way. This is also where buying from a reputable equipment dealer again comes out ahead, as the dealership’s skilled, certified technicians can provide everything from basic preventative maintenance care and repairs all the way up to remote machine monitoring and troubleshooting, and annual, thorough equipment inspections.

Research, Browse, Buy with Confidence
From diversification to growth opportunities, there are several reasons buying a used dozer is the best choice for a company and its fleet. Because every machine – and seller – is on a different level, buyers must make extra efforts to do the right research and follow through. Thanks to new opportunities for browsing and contact-free buying, used dozer seekers have greater ability to make a confident buying decision.


About The Author 
Si Hanna is General Manager of Remarketing with  RDO Equipment Co. in Hewitt, TX.

Search the complete inventory of quality used equipment from RDO Equipment Co. or  visit your local store for more information.

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