1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!
  2. ALL NEW MEMBERS READ THIS FIRST!! Thank you for joining Heavy Equipment Forums! If you are new to forums we communicate with "Threads", please search our threads to see if your topic may have already been answered and if not then click "Post New Thread" in the appropriate forum. This will allow all of our members to see your question and give you the best chance to be answered. After you've made a number of posts you will graduate to Full Member status where you'll see a few more privileges. Following these guidelines will help make this the best resource for heavy equipment on the net. Thanks for joining us and I hope you enjoy your stay!!

When Looking at a Used Machine...How Many Hours are Too Many

Discussion in 'Tractor/Loader/Backhoes' started by Swetz, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    Hello All,

    As some of you know, I intend to purchase a backhoe in the next couple of months. I am seeing a lot of units with 5-7k hours on them. My question is: Where do I draw the line in my search? I mean, what is the life expectancy of a backhoe? Years ago, it was more related to the engine. Today, the engines are very good, and it seems as though they will last as long as many other parts on the machine. In the past, I have been told to stay away from anything that has over 3k hours. As I look this seems like low hours compared to some of the units I see. I do understand that the maintenance will have a great impact, as well as will the type of ground the unit was used on. The bottom line is I dont want to buy a dog, but I also dont want to exclude a machine that is potentially still in good shape because it has 5k hours on it. I am looking for a "good used" machine, not a fixer upper. I mean if a light is out or a hose is looking poor, I am ok. Put another way, I am looking to purchase a unit that I can put right to work with minimal work, not one I must fix up prior to using.

    On the same vein, if greased properly, when could I expect pins and bushing to become sloppy?

    I hope this makes sense to youall

    TIA
     
  2. Wulf202

    Wulf202 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2020
    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    denver, co
    In my experience, hours are not the only factor. If you can find out a history on the machine they can tell more of a complete story. Some brands have a harder time with longevity also.

    Your best bet is to treat each machine on its own merits. I don't have issues with name brand units with 4-5k hours because the savings can more than pay for a repair or two.

    I know one gentleman who paid a pretty penny for a 4k hour JD with full service logs that was a former city utility district's, the operators are known to idle the machine and road it to and from, take lunch in the cab to have a/c etc.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  3. highwayghost

    highwayghost Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2019
    Messages:
    323
    Occupation:
    Emissions Analyst
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'm no expert but how I do it is like a math problem. We all know how to gauge a car/vehicle on miles.
    Do an hours to miles conversion.
    Average speed on car... 50 MPH
    Hours on machine ... 6000
    6000 hours at 50 MPH = 300,000 miles
    Condition and maintenance is everything, especially as the hours get higher.
    It can vary but gives another reference.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  4. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    Wulf202 & highwayghost,

    Thanks for the response.

    I do understand that maintenance and how it was used will dramatically change the condition. Most of the units that I am seeing for sale are for sale by a dealer. Unfortunately, with a dealer it is hard to get an accurate history or maintenance records. I would much prefer to purchase from an owner that has not pressure washed off the dirt and polished it up, but I also do not want to exclude some of the units being offered by dealers either...I do understand it is a gamble when buying used, but there is no way I could swing new.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  5. JL Sargent

    JL Sargent Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2018
    Messages:
    328
    Location:
    Alabama
    I have a 30 year old ford tractor and the hour meter reads 1200 hrs and that machine is completely worn out. Probably has 6000 hrs in reality. I have a 20 year old backhoe and the hour meter reads 300. Newer machines have electronic hour meters that may be more reliable, but I do not ever trust an analog hour meter on a used machine.
     
  6. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    JL Sargent,

    Good point...How many hours does a unit REALLY have on it.

    I have actually seen at least one backhoe that is for sale that states that the hour meter was replaced at XX hours. I am sure many are not as honest. Another reason why I like to purchase from an individual. They can usually provide documentation of maintenance and those documents usually have hours attached to them.

    I guess I should restate to include:
    When Looking at a Used Machine...How Many Actual Hours are Too Many
     
    DMiller likes this.
  7. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    5,022
    Location:
    On A Riverbank in IL. USA
    Maybe some dealers won't have service records. But just as many will have the entire history of machines (not just T/L/Bs) that they service.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  8. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    7,882
    Occupation:
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    Location:
    Northwest
    What you are asking for is an amount of operation measured in time to form an expectation of the condition of a machine. The problem with your question is that you are assuming operational hours correlates to the condition, i.e. wear and tear. The facts of machinery condition actually don't have an actual link to time. One can form an expectation of condition given empirical measurements of age, miles driven or hours of operation. But condition can be changed. An engine can be repaired or replaced as can any other part of the machine. What does correlate to age, hours and distance though is price. Those parameters will determine a range of value which can be narrowed down by actual condition.

    So knowing the above, you can determine a range of what you can afford. Once you know that, now you can review the market data and be able to see the advertised machine prices and winnow out the machines with prices that just don't make sense. You have a selection process now and can pick the machines within a price range. When you start looking at them, you will begin to form expectations of condition that correspond to age and usage. I hope that makes sense.
     
    DMiller, redneckracin and kshansen like this.
  9. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Messages:
    8,297
    Occupation:
    Retired Mechanic in Stone Quarry
    Location:
    Central New York, USA
    This is one of those tough questions with no real good answer!

    Not saying the above posters are not right in what they have said but there are so many variables trying to make one answer fit all situations is not possible.

    One thing I would want to know is what is your skill level on maintaining and repairing equipment?

    Next if you are going to have someone else handle that work, do you have someone lined up who will be doing it?

    If you have someone who will be handling that end of the business I would defer to them to make the evaluation of any possible machines.

    If your go to repair guy is a die-hard Cat guy I would not want to stick him with having to repair and maintain say a JCB, or the other way around.

    Guess what I might be saying is hours are only one of the things to look at. I'd be more interested in support from manufacturers. For example if I needed say a skid-steer loader and had to choose between a high hour Case 1845C and a low hour machine with only one dealer around 75 miles away I would go for the Case. But then I'm partial to them as I spent many years keeping some of those running under very bad conditions in a stone quarry.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  10. geminijo

    geminijo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2018
    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    minnesota
    You may also want to consider how available parts/service are in your area because no matter what used machine you get it will eventually need some repair.Many repairs can be done by the average person with help from the good folks on HEF and parts for many repairs can be purchased on line, so geographic location is less important in cases like that.But in the unfortunate event you need to have your machine worked on by a shop it would be nice if that shop was as local as possible.In my case I have a large John Deere shop in town and I have ordered a few parts from them that were not readily available on line and once you develop a relationship with a local dealer they may be more willing to share info over the phone when you're looking for repair advice.
     
    DMiller and kshansen like this.
  11. chas357

    chas357 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2019
    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    dushore pa
    one thing more when unsure about the condition of a BH take your friendly dirt contractor with you for the price of a steak dinner he could tell you in 10 minutes more about the BH than you could working on it all winter long.ask me I know
     
    Vetech63, kshansen and DMiller like this.
  12. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    Tinkerer,
    Thanks for the response. When I actually begin physically looking at the various pieces of equipment I will be sure to ask if maintenance records are available...even dealers. I just assumed they wouldnt have that info.
     
  13. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    John C.,

    Thanks for the reply. I do have a set amount of money that I am looking to spend. However, as I am looking in my "price range" I am seeing machines with as little as 3k hours, and at the same price point some with as many as 10k hours. My initial question was asked because I was wondering if I could just set a cutoff (say 5k hours) and look at units only with less than that. Knowing a little about mechanical things, I would assume that after a certain amount of time, even with the best of care metal will fatigue, pins will wear, transmissions will fail, etc. I also do understand that as I actually get closer to the actual purchase, there is no substitute for physically inspecting the actual machine. At this point I am trying to narrow down the machines that I do actually visit. None of the units I am seeing are real close to me, so, eliminating a 10 hour drive because a machine has too many hours may be helpful in my search...I hope that makes sense.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  14. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    kshansen,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I am mechanically inclined and actually maintained equipment, including backhoes for many years for a local gas and electric utility. So, that being said, I will be the one doing the repairs and maintenance on the tractor once I get it. Additionally, I am currently focused on mostly John Deere and New Holland because there are dealerships for both within a half hour. I do agree, having a dealer close by to answer questions or purchase parts is important to me. I have been dealing with the New Holland dealer for many years, and they have not had a bit of problem giving me advice and saving me $. I am told the local Deere dealer is also good like that, but I do not have experience there, just word of mouth.
     
    kshansen and DMiller like this.
  15. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    geminijo,

    Thanks for the post. A I shared with kshansen, I am mostly focused on John Deere and New Holland because of the close proximity to me. I really do not have any brand loyalty, although I currently own multiple New Holland CUTs that have always served me well.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  16. Swetz

    Swetz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    272
    Occupation:
    Electric & Gas Company
    Location:
    NJ/PA
    chas357,
    Thanks for the post. The only flaw with your suggestion is that my local contractor, and friend is a Deere head...I mean, in his mind if it aint a Deere, it aint worth buying. I want to be more open minded and find the best value for the tasks I have, not just buy something because of brand.
     
    DMiller likes this.
  17. geminijo

    geminijo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2018
    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    minnesota
    Chas 357,That's exactly what I ended up doing and possibly avoided problems with a Ford 555 with a non functioning hour meter that had "around 1800 hrs." on it but looked very suspicious and a little beat up.I ended up with a Deere 310C that I purchased from a county shop on the Minnesota state auction site.It had a complete service record log along with all the PM events like fluid/filters plus a complete shop manual.It had 4970hrs when I got it and I ended up having to rebuild the shuttle at a little over 5050 hrs:mad:
     
    DMiller likes this.
  18. jimg984

    jimg984 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Location:
    ronda north carolina
    sorry you mised the 555Ford deal,,,what glitters is not always gold,,,loving my 555 ford I'm just a old ford guy,,, only use it about 75 hours light work good luck
     
  19. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Messages:
    8,297
    Occupation:
    Retired Mechanic in Stone Quarry
    Location:
    Central New York, USA
    That's another point I'm not sure anyone has mentioned, not the "Ford" part but the amount of use one is planning for any machine they are looking to buy.

    What jimg984 is doing in that "75 hours", assuming he meant a year, might be how much someone else will be looking at before the end of this month! That could make a major difference in determining the machine to buy.

    I guess my opinion would be that hours are not as big a factor as to how a machine has been cared for over its life. I know the things that run up a big red flag for me are those like bent up sheet metal and broken glass. Even things like wiper blades with torn rubbers tell me someone has not cared for the machine. And the day to day care one puts into a machine can be many time more important that the numbers on some meter in the dash!
     
    aighead, geminijo and highwayghost like this.
  20. highwayghost

    highwayghost Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2019
    Messages:
    323
    Occupation:
    Emissions Analyst
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I couldn't agree more! :p If they will not spend the time and money on the obvious little things, the details, the pile of things that make something a POS, it makes you wonder how much of the important things did they not bother with too! Did they just use it or did they have some 'Pride in Ownership'?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020