How To Find Good Used Caterpillar Parts

If you own a Caterpillar bulldozer, excavator, wheel loader, backhoe, skid steer or another type of application you already know buying new parts from the dealer is costly.  OEM parts are great because of the convenience and reliability they offer.  Often it is worth the extra money to conveniently buy the part you need and know you have the backing of a multi-billion dollar company like Caterpillar.

But what are your options if you don't want to spend the money on a new OEM part or if the part is discontinued by Caterpillar?  One option of course is to buy CAT aftermarket parts.  A growing number of CAT machine owners are turning to this option because the quality and reliability continues to improve while the savings is significant.  A second option is to buy used Caterpillar parts.

Buying used heavy construction parts can be risky if you don't buy them from the right place.  Many salvage yards do not inspect the parts, won't offer a warranty, and don't always inventory the parts with the accurate part numbers.  You may not be able to return the part even if it's damaged or incorrect.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of buying used parts such as seeking out established used parts sellers or an established parts broker.

One established used Caterpillar parts company with an excellent track record is IHM in Hickory, Kentucky.  IHM owner Chris Hill has been working with Caterpillar used parts for more than three decades.  Hill says IHM secures Caterpillar machines at auctions, salvages the usable parts, and inspects the parts to make sure they will perform as expected.  IHM then double checks the Caterpillar part number to ensure accuracy.

"We inspect our parts against the Caterpillar guideline for reusable and salvage parts guide.  This is the used parts bible for determining if a part is good or not.  For example, a sun gear for a dozer final drive has to be perfect.  However, a ring gear in the same planetary gear set can have a pit or two and be reusable," Hill said.

Here are five buying tips you should consider before making a purchase from a salvage yard.


As with any major purchase, you should do a little investigating to be sure the company you’re buying from is trustworthy.  Try to find reviews on the salvage yard.   Check out the company's website.  For instance, IHM's website is clear, updated, contains valuable information, and even has a dynamic video about their company.  Ask people you know who may have had experience with the business.  If you can’t get the information you need from outside sources, you should at least speak with a representative at the salvage yard and ask questions about their service.

Find out what the company's protocol is when it comes to selling parts to make sure they take steps to ensure various stages of the sale including delivery of the part.

"We email a completed invoice with tracking number the day after the part ships so you can complete your invoice to your customer and you can track the package," Hill said.

If you’re looking for used heavy equipment parts you’re probably looking for a good salvage yard to buy from.  There are probably a few near you, and hundreds across the country.  You’ll find plenty on the internet but buying from a salvage yard can be risky.

We shop around so you don't have to" h4="Let us know what you need and then get back to work!

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Find out from the salvage yard if they have any history on their machines, how they inventory their parts, if there is any warranty on any of the parts.  Do they open up and inspect the parts?  What do they do when they have an inspection on particular parts?  What happens if the part they sold to you is not the right one?  Can you return it?


It’s tempting to get that used main pump off machines such as a CAT 315CL to save $5,000 but what kind of savings is it if the pump only works for three months before it fails?  Buying sensitive parts like main pumps or transmissions is much more risky than buying a bell crank or a loader frame off a machine.  If buying a part like this used is the best option for you, definitely make sure you are buying from an established salvage yard such as IHM.


If you spend $2,500 for a used boom cylinder off a machine like a CAT 325 but can get the same cylinder new aftermarket for $3,300, is it really worth the $800 savings?  Let the salvage yard know what the market is, and use other options as leverage to negotiate the price.


Finally, a great way to save time and money is to use a reputable parts broker.  A broker will be able to implement the first four tips in a matter of minutes for you for a very small percentage of the overall sale.  Parts brokers like ConEquip Parts has an extensive database of salvage yards, only works with reputable companies, has established relationships with yards who offer ConEquip discounted rates, and can provide valuable information about your potential purchase.

An established broker will also act as a middle-man, ensuring both sides of a high value transaction meets their obligations.  Often, if the supplier fails to deliver the right part, or delivers a part that is damaged, the parts broker will assume the responsibility to make sure the customer is compensated regardless if the supplier makes good with the parts broker.

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