What to Look for When Buying a Used Backhoe

Before you buy a used backhoe, make sure it loads and digs as it should and has some life left in it.  

If you're in the market for a used backhoe, you already know how handy these pint-sized excavators can be. Buying used can save you big — if you buy smart.

Loader arms

Once that's out of the way, one of the first things to look at is the mechanism that connects the loader arms. That torque tube takes a lot of punishment due to the bending and twisting of the arms, so look for cracks or evidence of repair work, like plating and re-welding.

One way to tell if the loader arms are damaged is to pull the backhoe onto a flat surface, like a concrete pad, and set the bucket on the ground. If it doesn't lie flat, the loader arms could be bent out of shape.

Boom, stick and bucket

Next up is an examination of the boom, along with the hydraulic cylinder, or stick, and bucket for signs of anything more serious than a few scratches or dings. The bucket shouldn’t be missing any teeth or bolts, and the cutting edge shouldn’t show signs of excessive wear. Also check all the hydraulic cylinders for leaks and damage.

Another way to check for damage to the boom is to start the engine, raise the loader arms, then turn the engine off, noting any boom drift. In addition, take the backhoe thorough all of its functions. For example, check the boom for slack by extending it as far as it can go and swinging it back and forth.

Engine and more

Once the backhoe functions check out, it's time inspect all the systems and features, including engine, brakes, steering and body. Look under the hood for any loose belts, obvious leaks and signs of poor maintenance, such as dirty filters. (When buying any piece of used equipment, it’s smart to ask for the maintenance log.) Rev the engine and listen for any unusual sounds. Also look for smoke. Make sure the temperature reading is normal. Drive around if you can to test the brakes.

If the machine meets the challenge of a rigorous inspection, it just might be one that will help your company tackle the excavating jobs only a reliable backhoe can handle.