Tips For Buying A Used Excavator

Tips For Buying A Used Excavator

Excavators are pricey, but buying a used excavator will help save money on excavator prices. However, buying used earth moving equipment can be costly if proper precautions and examinations are not performed. Just as used vehicles should not be purchased with a thorough inspection; neither should a used excavator be purchased without examining all aspects of the machine in order to ensure that the value of the machine meets the current condition. Here is an in-depth look at several excavator features and functions that should be carefully examined prior to purchasing a used excavator.

Check for play/movement in the swing radius

The slew ring should be checked for any play or movement that is not a normal part of its operations. When the hydraulic excavator housing is rotated, it should be tight and smooth, with no play or abnormal movement whatsoever. Check all connection points, especially between the stick, boom and bucket. Bushings and pins should be checked for loose play. Looseness in the connection points results in less accuracy. If the slew ring is damaged, it is one of the most expensive parts to replace.

Reviewing exterior excavator condition

The exterior of the machine should be checked for dents, cracks and bends. Over time, parts, such as the boom and stick, which have been heavily used may experience warps and bends. This typically results in replacement of the damaged part, which can be expensive. Dents on the stick or other parts of the machine may be a sign that the machine was misused by previous owners. Records should be examined to ensure the machine was not used as a rental, as rented machines have higher rate of misuse by operators.

Cracks are a definitive sign of degeneration or misuse, and most likely means the affected parts will need to be replaced soon to avoid a larger problem from developing.

Inspect excavator hydraulics for leaks

Leaks in the hydraulics can be a sign of misuse or degeneration as well. All cylinders, hoses and lines should be thoroughly examined. The hydraulic pump compartment should be examined for any type of leaks, as well as the swing bearing and slew ring. All leaks should be repaired before the machine is considered for purchase.

Inaccurate/inoperational hour meter

The hour meter should be checked and authenticated to ensure that the proper number of hours have been logged onto the machine. If it is not working correctly, or if there is any reason to question the validity of the reading, the control pedals can be checked. If there is a high amount of wear on the pedals, this may be a sign that the reading is not correct.

Review bucket and attachments for wear and tear

Excessive wear on bucket teeth is indicative of a reduction in digging efficiency, and could be a sign that bucket replacement is needed. The bucket teeth should be examined to see if they are scalloped, a condition that occurs when teeth are worn down into a half-moon shape. The bucket will most likely still be operational with these defects, but at a reduced efficiency, and replacement may be required in the near future.


The model of the excavator should be researched to ensure that parts are readily available, and can be purchased if any parts on the machine break down and become inoperable. Manufacturer support and maintenance may be required in the future, so this should be determined before a model is purchased.


Tires are an important and expensive part of earth moving equipment. The current condition of the tires should be examined, and if possible, the number of hours on the tires should be determined. Most standard excavator tires have an expected life of at least 5,000 hours, while premium tires with an extended life expectancy can be purchased at a higher price. For instance, Hitachi offers a long-lasting Michelin tire that averages around 7,000 hours.

Price comparison

Excavators hold their value well. While excavator value places a lot of emphasis on hours used, additional factors may be used when determining value for new and used excavators including the year the model was made, which attachments are included, overall condition, etc. Below is a sample of some popular excavators with a comparison between the excavator prices of new excavators and the price of used excavators with varying hours on the machines.


  • Komatsu PC220 new price: $55,000. Used price (4500 hours): $30,000
  • Komatsu PC220 LC-5 new price: $85,000. Used price (8000 hours): $45,000
  • Komatsu PC45MR-3 new price: $60,000. Used price (1500 hours): $45,000


  • Hitachi EX150 new price: $80,000. Used price (7000 hours): $30,000
  • Hitachi EX225 new price: $140,000. Used price (4500 hours): $70,000
  • Hitachi EX270 LC-5 new price: $150,000. Used price (10000 hours): $50,000


  • Kubota K008-3 new price: $30,000. Used price (60000 hours): $15,000
  • Kubota KX040-4 new price: $55,000. Used price (500 hours): $50,000
  • Kubota KX080-3 new price: $80,000. Used price (1500 hours): $70,000

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