Last but not least, look over the main frame of the machine for evidence of welds, plates, damaged or cracked areas. Look for places where cylinders and axles attach. Verify that the axles oscillate. Identify the steering capabilities (two wheel, four wheel and/or crab) and inspect the hinge points and places where parts attach to the frame.
“The overall appearance of a machine is a telltale sign of the way it has been maintained,” says Doug Olive, vice president, pricing and valuation, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. “Generally, you can get a good feeling of what the maintenance was like on the machine during a walk-around inspection.”
Hendrix advises inspecting the cab to get an indication of how the machine was cared for. Positive signs are a clean interior, unbroken glass and a seat that is in good condition. Check that the controls aren’t taped with duct tape and there are no wires hanging under the dash. “Take the time to notice these little things, as there are many small signs inside the cab that tell how a machine has been maintained,” he comments.
Check for damage to sheet metal or fiberglass, fenders and paint. Are all the panels (e.g., engine panels) and glass intact? Is there tread left on the tires?
Tires are one of the fastest wearing components on a telehandler and account for a significant amount of downtime. They can be filled with air or foam, so know which tires are on the machine you are considering purchasing.
“Foam is more expensive to replace as the tire must be cut from the rim,” explains Hendrix. “Pneumatic tires are easier to replace, but can be punctured and go flat.”
Hendrix suggests inspecting for sidewall damage, inside and out. Check the tread wear, as well, to determine how soon the tires will need to be replaced.
“A work order and proper maintenance are important pieces of information that should be evaluated prior to purchasing a used telehandler,” says Olive. Beware of any machine that doesn’t come with a maintenance history.
“Documentation is very important and, when it’s available, it will give you the best history of how a machine has been treated and maintained,” says Weidemann. “Anytime there is documented maintenance, it’s a plus for the buyer.”
Confirm the time between servicing, as well as the types of repairs performed. If a boom structural repair is found on a machine, ask for documentation of the repair. Since a telehandler has the capability to lift personnel, you want to make sure it has been repaired to manufacturer specifications.
While documentation is beneficial, there are some telltale signs that a machine has not been properly maintained. “The easiest sign of lack of maintenance on a telehandler is oil leaks,” says Weidemann. “If the machine looks abused, chances are it has been.”
Another sign of neglect or abuse is the tires. Worn tires are fine, but severely damaged tires are not. Also, normal wear will not bend forks or carriages.
If a telehandler has been improperly used to dig or pull something, it will often damage the internal chains and hoses, Weidemann points out. This damage ranges from the chains being very loose or the boom section falling back into the section when the boom is raised. Verify that the boom sections are not bent if you suspect improper use of the machine.
A used telehandler can be a valuable addition to your fleet. However, do your homework before you purchase. Research manufacturer websites and inspect equipment carefully before making a decision.
Of course, there are circumstances where it makes more sense to buy a new telehandler. Weidemann suggests taking the following into consideration before purchasing any machine: warranty, replacement cost, reliability, the role of the machine (how critical it is to production) and the rebuild costs.