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Increasing Used Equipment Resale Values — The Checklist

Tue September 17, 2019 - National Edition
Jared Haughton – SPECIAL TO CEG


Take time to clean your machine; then make sure all the sheet metal is straight. The buyer’s initial impression of the machine is critical.
Take time to clean your machine; then make sure all the sheet metal is straight. The buyer’s initial impression of the machine is critical.
Take time to clean your machine; then make sure all the sheet metal is straight. The buyer’s initial impression of the machine is critical. A clean, functioning cab indicates to a buyer that the owner/operator took good care of their machine. Check the entire machine for leaks and fix any you find. Even if it’s not a critical leak, when a buyer sees one, they assume it’s indicative of bigger issues.

Resale values fluctuate for construction equipment, but not just because of the brand, hours on the machine, time of year or economic conditions. What you put into your used machine before you sell it matters too.

If you're looking to sell, this checklist can potentially help you increase your machine's resale value to get more out of it.

  • Service history: Always have the machine's complete service history available to show what service has been done and when, including what components or parts have been changed out. The service history helps you prove that the machine's condition is reflective of its age and hours. This can be especially important if you're selling a high-hour machinethat's actually in really good shape. For example, a buyer may assume an excavator with 8,000 hours on it needs a lot of work; but that may not be true if the undercarriage and other critical components were recently serviced or replaced.
  • Outside appearance: Take time to clean your machine; then make sure all the sheet metal is straight. The buyer's initial impression of the machine is critical. If you see any places where touch-up paint will improve the appearance, that also can dramatically improve your resale value. With paint, though, you cango overboard — if you use excessive paint that doesn't look uniform, it may indicate to a buyer that you're trying to hide something when you're not. Also, don't paint black components like coils, springs or hoses. This can signal a rush job, or again, that you're trying to hide something. Black hydraulic hoses painted yellow may actually decrease your resale value. The rule of thumb is don't do more than you have to — simple, uniform touch-ups on a clean machine are best.
  • Cab: A clean, functioning cab indicates to a buyer that the owner/operator took good care of their machine. First, make sure the cab is thoroughly cleaned and wiped down. You also need to check all the switches to make sure each one is functioning properly. If you have any that aren't, replacing them will be worth it. And don't forget about the seat — make sure it adjusts properly. A seat assembly is around $5,000 (sometimes more), so make sure it works or you may have to deduct that from your resale value.
  • Leaks: Check the entire machine for leaks and fix any you find. Even if it's not a critical leak, when a buyer sees one, they assume it's indicative of bigger issues.
  • Replacements: Replacing some parts of a machine may seem expensive up front, but it may be worth it if you can get that back (and more) when you sell it. For example, it's not uncommon for an excavator in a demolition environment to have a rear door that's smashed in. It can cost a lot of money to replace it, but if you have the ability to do it yourself, you might spend around $5,000 on the door and it could net you back several times that amount in profit.

Making sure your machine physically looks good, is clean and is in work-ready condition can help you increase your resale value — and having the service history helps you prove it's worth every penny you're trying to get out of it.

(Jared Haughton grew up in the used equipment business, first with his father's company and now with Volvo CE. He covers the Western Region, plus Maryland, Virginia and Alabama. He also manages repairs at the Volvo Certified Used centers in Las Vegas and Detroit. He is based out of Alma, Arkansas, and enjoys spending his spare time with his family and doing metal fabrication projects.)