Hauling heavy loads over rough terrain can take its toll on any telehandler. So while a used model may be the most efficient solution for your equipment needs, perform due diligence to make sure the unit is fit for duty prior to the purchase.
It all starts with a careful inspection. "Perform an operator's inspection including full-cycle operation of a unit," advises Bob Bartley, director of technical services, Terex AWP.
Start the machine and run it through a few cycles. "Check for how sloppy the boom is when you send it in and out," says Brain Boeckman, global product director, telehandlers, JLG Industries. "This might lead you to some clue about how well the machine has been maintained over the course of its life."
Bruce Lafky, vice president – service and maintenance, United Rentals, adds, "It's important to conduct a thorough structural inspection and also do a fluid sampling if possible." Review the machine's maintenance history and ask questions to try to determine how it was used. "At a minimum, have a service professional perform a general inspection. That process, together with the maintenance history, can usually tell a good story to an experienced service technician."
This research will tell you a lot about potential problems. "A proper full inspection and operational check of the telehandler should provide the buyer with enough knowledge to tell if a telehandler has been properly maintained or not," says Doug Olive, senior director, pricing and valuation, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. "A work order and proper maintenance are also important pieces of information that should be evaluated prior to purchasing a used telehandler."
Beware of any machine that does not come with a maintenance history. "The maintenance records are very important when it comes time to sell or purchase a telehandler," Bartley explains. "Records tell the story of what the unit may have been subject to in its life and indicate whether the proper maintenance was performed to prolong the life of the unit."
"The value of the telehandler will be well supported by having solid maintenance records throughout the unit's working life," says Olive.
Maintenance records should be as complete as possible. Lafky recommends that you check the days and hours between services, as well as the types of repairs performed.
Also refer to the appropriate manufacturer's checklist during the inspection. "The best way to ensure that a telehandler is in proper operating condition is to use a manufacturer's checklist," says Lafky. "Manufacturers have inspection forms specific to most telehandler models. PDI checklists are also available. At United Rentals, we've created a comprehensive hybrid checklist that covers all of the major brand machines and has been reviewed and approved by the manufacturers."
Perform a walk-around
There is no substitute for a walk-around inspection. Take special notes of common wear items. These include boom wear pads, tires, chains and hoses in the boom section, steering joints, brakes and levelers.
"Boom sections should be examined for damage, cracks and wear," says Bartley. "Also check for damage and wear on boom chain adjustments, fork tines and fork tine bars. Always refer to the telehandler operator and service manuals for a complete list of items to inspect."
Examine how the machine was maintained. "As you walk around the machine, look at the wear pads to make sure they are all there," notes Boeckman. "Make sure they are properly greased. Look at all the pivot points on the machine. Any pivot pin should be properly secured. Are any hoses showing signs of wear?"
Then check for obvious problem areas. "Look for any structural defects in the machine — cracked wells and bent booms," says Boeckman. These are going to be the most expensive items to repair. "So you want to take a close look at the structural integrity of the machine. Check the engine over very closely. Do a compression test."