A telescopic handler is an important piece of equipment on any jobsite. But if you’re considering purchasing a used machine for your fleet, there are several areas you should inspect carefully to ensure safe, effective operation.
“When it comes to evaluating used equipment, it’s best to break your evaluation process down based on the individual systems of that machine,” says Paul Hendrix, equipment pricing analyst, IronPlanet.
Following are four key systems to consider, along with other tips to ensure a successful purchase.
Mechanical systems include the engine, drivetrain and hydraulics. Hendrix suggests cranking the engine cold. “Telehandlers are powered by diesel engines and you can learn a lot about the engine by how it cranks,” he says. “If you touch the starter and it cranks, that’s a good sign on a cold start from a diesel engine. If you have to grind on it before it cranks over, that’s an indication that the engine has serious internal wear.”
In addition, look for major leaks and check the condition of all fluids. “It’s also important to run the machine in all gears,” says Chad Weidemann, vice president of sales, Cat Auction Services. “Run the machine through its paces and test each function of the machine. Use all of your senses when testing the unit and pay particular attention to the engine for overall performance, noise and smoke issues.”
If you are in a crowded area that doesn’t allow you to operate the machine to its full potential, Hendrix suggests you can still hold down the brake and shift the machine through its gears. Verify there is power in all gears, forward and reverse.
Check the steering and brakes, including the service and parking brakes. The brakes should stop and hold the machine. Make sure all safety lock-out devices are operating as intended, emphasizes Weidemann. The ROPS/FOPS should not be damaged or modified.
Raise and lower work equipment, listening for unusual sounds and looking for leaks in the hydraulic system. “Telehandlers have a fairly robust hydraulic system,” notes Hendrix. “One group of cylinders telescopes the boom, while load leveling cylinders change the angle of the machine. You need to visually inspect all areas for damage, wear and leaks.”
Inspect the boom carefully, starting at the hinge point from where the boom is anchored to the frame of the machine. Extend the boom out and inspect each section for signs of cracks, welds or repairs. Ensure the boom angle and frame level gauges are working freely.
Be cautious when it comes to repairs to the boom structure. “Boom repairs do exist, and more times than not the repairs are obvious,” says Weidemann. “The use of a straight edge across the bottom of the boom and up the sides between the flanges is a good way to check for boom box deflection.”
“The structural integrity of any kind of lift equipment is very important because every part of that machine is designed to carry the load,” adds Hendrix. “If any part has failed in the past or been repaired, it might compromise the overall integrity of the machine and its ability to lift the load.”
Weidemann suggests raising the telescopic boom to maximum height, extending the boom all the way out and then retracting it to make sure it is not binding and shuttering during retraction. Repeat the same procedure in a horizontal plane, this time looking at the boom deflection at maximum horizontal reach, again making note of any binding or shuttering during retraction.
On the end of the boom, make sure the attachment is properly matched to the size and load capacity of the telehandler. “Before purchasing a used telehandler, it is important to make sure the attachment matches the machine, and never use an attachment on an undersized machine,” says Weidemann. “Keep in mind that some attachments will accelerate machine wear, which may require more frequent servicing. The incorrect attachment on a machine could become a serious safety factor.”