There are a lot of great reasons to buy used equipment for your agricultural or manufacturing business.

Chief among these may be the availability of parts, the reliability of a particular model, and of course, the fantastic price savings.

That said, we all want to avoid buying a lemon. Here are five points to look over before buying your next piece of used equipment.

1. Do not compromise

It’s tempting to fall for something similar to what you’re looking for – especially if it’s lower in price. But this can be a good way to get stuck with something that doesn’t really work for you. That’s why we recommend staying on the hunt well in advance of actually buying the equipment if you’re able. For example, you can regularly check out the inventory at to see if your ideal piece is available yet.

2. Investigate where/who you’re buying it from

Before you purchase, think critically about where you’re buying it from. If you get it at auction, this may be easy enough. If you buy private, consider this: were there any differences between the way the equipment was listed, and what you observed when you saw it up close? If it was misrepresented in some way, that may not be a good sign. Also, always be sure to compare the price to book value or other sellers, just to ensure you’re not being ripped off.

3. Start it up

There’s little reason that you shouldn’t be able to try before you buy when going with used items. The only time we purchase a piece of equipment that won’t run is when we want other parts for existing equipment, so start it up. Make sure there’s no smoke or leaking fluids, and that the equipment sounds how you would expect it to. If there’s exhaust, make sure it’s the correct color. White, black, or blue smoke might be a bad sign.

4. Ask for records

Nothing is a better indicator of how well your equipment will do than how well it was cared for by the previous owner.  Ask if there are any maintenance records for the piece; good maintenance on an older machine can make it even better than a more recent machine with no maintenance performed in its life. Ask if it was ever involved in an accident, and if applicable, ask to see the title. You may also want to run the equipment’s identification number to make sure it isn’t stolen, either.

5. Check for obvious signs of damage

You’re probably well aware that a piece of machinery can be run into the ground with regular, long-term use. Inspect for signs of aging and general wear-and-tear, such as cracks, rust, and marks. This might bring the asking price down. If the equipment was heavily used, recognize that its days may be numbered.

When it comes to getting a great ROI, used equipment can’t be beaten. Just do your best to purchase from a reputable seller, see that it runs for yourself, inspect for damage, and most importantly, get exactly what you’re in the market for.