What to look for in used equipment

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by steviepowers, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. steviepowers

    steviepowers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Just getting started. Want to buy used, but not looking for cheap, want quality with economy. What are good quality brands? how many operating hours are too many? What are things to look for to determine
    maintenance / abuse? I personally want a 36" walk behind with hydro drive. Is the money spent on hydro worth the benefits? What are the the major benefits. Sorry 'bout all the questions, just want to do things well.
    Thank you.
  2. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    used equiptment is like a used car, All the issues come in to play,

    it's just a gamble.

    I bought a used truck 14 years ago and I'm still driving it.

    The owner was the key selling point, he was a teacher who was retireing.

    He bought the truck NEW and put a matching toppen on it for his hobby, He would ride bicycles on the weekends.

    He just needed a larger truck so he sold this one.

    It was keep in the garage and just driven to school and back then to bike rallys on the weekend......

    You'll get that feeling when buying used,

    You know what to look for.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes for you..
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I recommend whatever you buy used, always test it thoroughly first. This is one of the reasons even thou ebay has a lot of good used stuff, I prefer to buy my used stuff local so I can test it before I buy it.

    Start it up, run it, and don't be afraid to walk away. Overall, you have to know if you can work with this equipment AND is there something major wrong with it? I mean, is it falling apart?

    As a general rule for equipment:
    1-2 years old = 30 percent off the new price (so a 1-year old mower that cost 3 grand new would cost about 2g used).
    4-5 years old = about half the price of new.
    6-8 years old = about 1/3 the price of new.

    It helps to find out what it cost new, you can usually get an idea online or run to a dealer, it will take time but over the years you will then become familiar with prices.

    Far as wear and tear, it all depends... Some school buys a commercial mower to cut their own fields, they sell it 8 or 10 years later and it may still be a very good mower... Meanwhile, some Lco buys a commercial mower to cut 800 yards/year and 4-5 years later the mower is about in pieces. So, it depends.

    I've seen a 4-year old mower that was worthless, and I once acquired a 17-year old Honda rider that was almost brand-new (I mean it looked like a 1 or 2 year old, always garage kept, almost never used, the paint was hardly scratched).
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,362

    I know Scags so I would recommend their 36" hydro. You can't tell hours but you can look for the following:
    1. Look carefully for leaking oil from the wheel motors or the hydro pumps.
    2. Take the belt off and check the spindles to be sure bearing are good
    3. Check the engine on a cold start and hot starts

    Remember you can get a engine for $600 and clutch for $180 so those are your other big risk items.
  5. steviepowers

    steviepowers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Thank you all so much. All of that info helps me in my decision making. If anyone has any further indicators of poor maintenance or abuse, I would really appreciate the wisdom.
  6. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Messages: 1,796

    Have you checked out Better outdoor's Quick 36? I keep hearing great things about them. Do a search and you'll find a few that love them. I only found one guy that had problems and after reading Gary's comments I see why the guy had problems. They may be just what you'r elooking for to get started and new instead of used. Just a thought.
  7. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    look for smoke or hard starting when you fire it up,may be a signal of valve failure in your future. Stress cracks where deck meets base power unit, worn belts, leaking hoses, dirty plugs and airfilters may give an indication of the maintenance importance placed on the machine by the previous owner. bent front wheels or casters, dented up decks and anything held together with wire or ducttape shows you how well a machine was cared for. I agree with the previous post (paraphrasing) It's not the age, it's the miles.

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