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Buying a Used Compact Track Loader

What to Know Before You Buy

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Printable Checklist (PDF)


Give the machine an initial "eye test". Here you can catch some obvious problems, a broken track, leaks, a bent loader frame. A walk around will give you an idea of the machine's general condition, and allow you take note of anything you want to explore in detail later. Using your cell phone camera is a good idea to help you remember potential problems you may want to check out later.

Pop your head into the cab. See if there is any excessive wear such as a torn seat, frayed seat belt, or cracked glass. None of these problems may be enough to shut the machine down, but they certainly could become a serious problem if not attended to. Obviously, you need to give the tracks a good look over. Get an idea of how much tread is left. Look for cuts or gashes.

Look for cracks and welds in the frame, especially on the loader arms. If there are welds on the loader frame, be sure the works was done right. Check the rear engine access door for dents. A good bang back there could be problematic. Also check the hydraulic cylinders and hoses for leaks.


Open up the back and check out the rear compartment including the filters, the battery, the starter. Look for leaks and make sure all the shrouds are in place. Unscrew the filter housing and check both filters inside for debris. Pull out the filters and see if there's any dirt in the housing. Look for dates and hours on the engine and filters to determine the last time the machine was serviced. Also look at the radiator for damage and debris. Pay attention to electrical wiring to see if it is worn down, clean, and wired properly. If there is black soot on the back door it is a sign the exhaust system may have a problem.


Be sure to check the sprockets, idlers, and rollers. If the sprockets have pointed teeth, that is a sign they need to be changed. Idlers are wearing down if the smooth surface is showing a groove. Check to see if rollers are loose.


Check the teeth and the overall bucket stability. Detach the bucket by pulling the levers of the coupler up and check to make they work properly. Make sure there are no bends or fractures. The coupler is critical since these loaders use a variety of attachments. Also check the step indentions on the bucket for hairline fractures.


Get inside the cab and start the machine to see if it starts without a problem. Record the machine hours. Check the interior and exterior lights. Test the heat and the air conditioning. You certainly don't want to sweat or freeze to death. Also, make sure you're comfortable in the seat. Be sure to also test any emergency shutdown systems. Execute several lift and dump cycles, noting any hesitations or play in the bushings. Get a good feel for how the controls work. Make sure they center in neutral. Tilt the bucket down and push down, noting if there's any play in the bucket pins and linkage. Make sure the auxiliary hydraulics are working properly. Check the hydraulic drive operation after you've had the engine running for at least 10 minutes. Also have a second person go back to the engine compartment to check for exhaust and oil leaks.


Go over your checklist, determine how much work the machine will need to be made ready for proper use, and get an idea how much everything will cost before you make an offer.

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