4 Steps to Buying New & Used Heavy Equipment

Is it looking like you'll need to buy new or used heavy equipment soon? Follow these steps to simplify the process.

used heavy equipment for sale
Buying heavy equipment can be...well...heavy
Though crucial for tackling some of the most important jobs, the process of buying heavy equipment is nothing to be taken lightly (cue pun-tastic rimshot). Not only is heavy equipment—such as construction equipment or agriculture machinery—more expensive than simpler tools, they're also (a) more difficult to locate and (b) require greater understanding in order to accurately appraise.

The real estate and automotive industries are jam-packed with qualified experts. However, "how to buy heavy equipment," for as complicated as it can be, has few resources for buyers. 

In this article, we’ll go over the steps you need to follow when buying new or used heavy equipment, including: 

1. Getting Your Finances in Order

Anxious to start shopping? Whoa—hold your horses, partner.
Much like buying a house or a new truck, before you start flipping through the car listings or calling a realtor, you need to figure out how you're going to pay for new or used heavy equipment for sale.

Start With the Task, Work Toward the Equipment

Whether you're looking over your finances with a professional or a loan provider, you should have an understanding of precisely how much you can afford pay to complete a necessary task. Crunch the numbers on how much money you can realistically expect to make on the task itself being performed—whether that's holes dug, earth moved, or other lucrative tasks. Subtract the cost of personnel needed to operate this equipment. Then you begin to see—even before you know what equipment you need—what you can afford to spend on the equipment necessary to complete these jobs.

You should be able to answer the following questions: 

  • How much do you need to bill or charge clients to complete the task at hand?
  • How much would you need to pay personnel to operate and maintain this equipment?
  • What is your budget for purchasing new or used heavy equipment?
  • How is your credit lookin'? 
  • Where do you plan to acquire financing for purchasing your heavy equipment?
  • Can you afford the loan payments? 
  • Will the machine be able to pay for itself?
  • Does owning (versus renting) a machine make the most financial sense? 

This knowledge will prevent you from acquiring a piece of heavy equipment that will not only dig holes on a worksite but also in your bottom line. 

Before proceeding forward from this step, you should know precisely:
A. How much you can afford to spend overall on a new piece of equipment
B. How much you can afford to pay monthly for a loan payment and maintenance for the necessary equipment
C. How much you need to pay the necessary operator personnel if you don't already employ them

2. Determine Your Need

Make sure that the equipment you’re purchasing is entirely necessary for the task at hand—especially whether or not a similar piece of equipment can do the same job for less cost. Maybe renting the equipment as required may end up being more cost effective. If your ownership of the equipment will not bring you closer to paying for it, buying said equipment may not make the most sense.

Not Sure What You Need? Ask the Experts.

If you're not as familiar about how certain types of jobs can be accomplished and what heavy equipment is necessary, consult a more experienced professional—someone who has spent time in the same industry and has faced the same challenges. Ask them what kind of equipment they would recommend for the jobs you're looking to tackle. Pick their brain on equipment makes and models that they prefer as well as what to look out for when buying used heavy equipment. Their honest input could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars. 

Before proceeding forward from this step, you should know precisely:
A. What kind of equipment will best serve your needs
B. Which makes and models are preferred by an expert
C. Whether buying or occasionally renting this equipment makes more sense

3. Begin Shopping for Your Heavy Equipment Needs

Now that you realize precisely not only what equipment you're looking to buy, but also how much you're willing and able to spend, you're getting closer to getting to work! Now you just need to find the model you need from a reputable source. 

Local Dealerships

If you know there are local dealerships that have models of heavy equipment for sale that meet your previous criteria, by all means, seek them out. Finding a local dealership that has precisely the kind of heavy equipment you're looking to buy gives you the chance to inspect the equipment in person as well as save big on the cost of shipping.

Private Sellers

Much like buying cars, purchasing heavy equipment through a private seller can sometimes save you some money—as long as you know what to look for and how to navigate the sales process. For such deals, having a experienced professional assist you is highly recommended.

Online Heavy Equipment Marketplaces

In more recent times, heavy equipment dealerships and private sellers have begun posting their heavy equipment for sale on the internet using online heavy equipment marketplace websites. Such marketplace websites allow sellers to reach a greater audience as well as giving buyers the ability to carefully focus their search to precise item specifications and within a budget.

Another advantage of using an online heavy equipment marketplace is increased buyer protection against potential scams. It is in these marketplace's best interest to prevent unethical or downright fraudulent activity on their sites. 

Before proceeding forward from this step, you should know precisely:
A. Which dealerships in your area carry the equipment you need
B. Which local private sellers are selling the equipment you need
C. Which online heavy equipment marketplaces stock the items you're looking
D. How legitimate the equipment seller is based on verified buyer accounts and reviews

4. Ensure the Quality of Your Equipment


When shopping for heavy equipment for sale, it may not always make sense to buy new models. There may be quite a bit of life left in many models of used heavy equipment for sale out there. However, without a trained eye, you may not know precisely what make-or-break details to look like when inspecting used heavy equipment for sale. Some of these models can be quite expensive and after all, you wouldn't buy a new house without an inspection, would you?

For this reason, it's often worthwhile to have a piece of equipment professionally inspected and appraised before pulling the trigger on a used heavy equipment purchase—or at least a buddy who knows what they're talking about. 

Don't have a heavy equipment appraiser at your fingertips?
Well, now you do! You're invited to check out of article entitled "16 Insider Tips For Buying Used Heavy Equipment" to help get you started. 


Find the New or Used Heavy Equipment You Need—In Seconds

If you're in the market for new or used heavy equipment for sale, My Little Salesman was designed just for you. Hone your search with a number of buyer filters to locate the exact model you want at a price you're going to love—and likely closer to home than you'd think. 

Shop for New and Used Heavy Equipment for Sale Now

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About Ken Lane
Ken’s affinity for the heavy equipment industry was fostered as a curious youngster—becoming happily lost on his grandfather’s tractor sales and service lot (his favorite color is still Allis-Chalmers Orange). Since then, he’s perfected the art of turning black coffee into helpful buyer resources and marketing materials for My Little Salesman.
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