Used Backhoe Buying Tips

If you’re in the market for a backhoe, new or used, there are certain things you need to consider before buying.

The first question you should ask yourself is if you truly need a backhoe to begin with.  Sometimes the machines you have in your fleet are sufficient to perform the work you need.

Once you decide you will invest in a backhoe, know what model will be best for the work needed to be done.  Know what horse power, dig depth, bucket capacity, and operating weight you need.  Your local dealer will help you answer those questions.

“Don’t just buy a backhoe because you need a backhoe,” says ConEquip President, Albert Alexander.

The Case 580 and 590 series is a very popular backhoe.  The machines have a great track record, there are many still in operations, used parts are not hard to come by, and there is an extensive aftermarket product line for Case backhoes.

Another make and model popular are CAT backhoes.  As with the Case backhoes, there are many used parts available for most models and an extensive aftermarket product line.

Backhoes to steer clear from are the Komatsu, Ford, and Volvo lines.  The reason is availability of used and aftermarket parts.  JCB makes a good backhoe, but they also have models that are hard to find replacement parts for outside of the dealer.

Deciding if you should buy a new or used backhoe of course depends on various factors, first being your budget.

Of course, you can save a lot of money buying a used machine, but then in most cases you sacrifice warranties.  Saving money in the short term can easily cost you a ton more down the line.

Buying used makes more sense if you are getting a machine to be in a support role, perhaps sitting on the sidelines until called upon.  However, many small construction businesses cannot afford to go with new.  When that’s the case, it’s very important to do your homework before buying any machine used.  Be sure to buy from a reputable company or a dealer.

If you are checking out a used backhoe you might want to purchase, check the following components.

  1. Check the hydraulic cylinders.  See if they are leaking.  Often they just need a seal kit but a leak could indicate there's a bigger more expensive problem.
  2. See if there's a lot of play inside the pins and bushings for the cylinders.  Simply shake the cylinders around.  If there is, you'll likely need to replace the pins and bushings.
  3. Check the loader arms for cracks.  Welds are ok depending on the location.
  4. Make sure you get the right power for the conditions you will be using the backhoe for.  If you will be using the machine in muddy conditions you will probably want a 4 wheel drive machine.
  5. Check the tread on the tires.
  6. Get under the machine to check the axles.  Check for leaks, cracks in the swivels, the condition of the tie-rod ends, leaks in the steering cylinders.
  7. Check the bucket type.
  8. Check the cab condition.  If there is glass check for cracks.  Make sure the cab floor isn't rusted out.  Check to make sure the heater works if you are in an area that gets cold.
  9. Check the final drive hub to make sure there is no fluid leaking out.
  10. Check the rear axle assembly.
  11. Check the swing frame for cracks.  Have someone operate the backhoe so you can check the play in the swing frame.
  12. Be sure to check the boom and arm for cracks.  Check the pin holes to make sure they're not oblong and wallowed out.
  13. Check to see if the backhoe is an extend-a-hoe for deeper dig depths if you need that option.
  14. How many bucket types do you need?
  15. Wiggle the H-Link to see how much play it has.
  16. Check the oil, radiator fluid, hydraulic tank, and start the machine and let it run.
  17. Drive the machine around, make sure it goes through all the gears the way you expect it to.

Whether buying new or used, be sure to know what attachments you will need to perform the jobs you need completed  Backhoes can be fitted with forks, grapples, buckets and many other hydraulic attachments to increase the machine’s productivity.

Good luck! If you need parts for the backhoe you just picked up, click below to get a quote today!