The Average Life of a Construction Machine

We get a lot of calls here at ConEquip from customers needing parts for some very old machines. Some of them are so old, while the machine is still pushing dirt, the original owner of the machine is likely now pushing daisies. It's not uncommon for a dozer or excavator to be 50 years old or even older.

It really is amazing when you consider how hard these machines work. You may be wondering, is it normal for a machine to last decades? And how long can you expect your excavator, dozer, backhoe, or other machine to keep going strong?

Of course the average lifespan of a machine depends on many factors including how much it is used, how well it is taken care of, and the climate the machine works in.

The truth is, anythings mechanical can last virtually forever if it is taken care of and fixed when needing repair. The real issue is when the cost of fixing a machine exceeds its value.

Nothing will retire a piece of equipment faster than when a much needed part is no longer available. Here at ConEquip, we've had many conversations with people who come to the sad conclusion there is no other choice but to say goodbye to the old girl.

Larger companies use a cost-value-performance equation to determine when it's time to move on from an older machine in its fleet.

With all that said, there is a general consensus on how long particular pieces of equipment should last. Here's a look at some common machines.

Wheel Loaders

Most general contractors put about 1,200-1,500 hours on their wheel loaders each year. A wheel loader's average lifespan is about 10 years, or 7,000-12,000 hours.

One way to squeeze 10,000 hours or more out of a wheel loader is to hire operators who know how to reduce the amount of abuse and stress the machines take.

Of course, the longevity of a wheel loader doesn't mean certain main components will last as long as the machine. Wheel loader tires last about 4,000 and 10,000 hours. Buckets can also last about 10,000 hours. The engine, brakes, and articulation joint can last the life of the machine.


Excavators have an average life of about 10,000 hours. In that time, final drives, the swing drive, main hydraulic pump, and swing bearing are all major components that will probably have to be repaired or replaced. Mini excavators also have a life span of about 10,000 hours.

Keeping a close eye on the excavator's undercarriage is a good way to extend the life of the machine. And as with wheel loaders, an excavator's life can be extended if operators know how to limit machine abuse.


Bulldozers can keep going strong about 10,000. hours. As with excavators, attention to undercarriage wear is important in extending the machine's life.


The lifetime of a backhoe can be shorter compared to wheel loaders, excavators, and dozers. Backhoes can last about 6,500 hours. Backhoe owners can expect the need for major engine work around 6,000 hours, while most major components will fail and need to be replaced within 3,500 hours.

The type of work a backhoe performs doesn't make much difference in the longevity of the machine. General use and heavy-duty machines see parts failures after about the same number of hours in use.


Scrapers generally last longer than the previous machines mentioned. A scraper owner should get 13,000 hours or more of use. As many as 20% of scrapers are still going strong after 25,000 hours.

Motor Graders

Motor graders have about the same life expectancy as a scraper with an average of 12,000 hours of use. About 20% of these machines will get past 20,000 hours of operation before they are retired.

Overall, motor graders are easier to keep in good shape.

Crawler Loaders

Crawler loaders also have an extended life, seeing about 20,000 hours of work before they are retired. Maintaining the undercarriage is important in getting the most hours out of the machine.

Of course, regular maintenance is still one of the best ways to lengthen the life of any machine, especially if operating it under challenging conditions.

ConEquip has parts for most makes and models of all ages. If you want to keep your machine going, be sure to give ConEqup Parts a call.