Wise To Be Wary Of Used Equipment Sold At Auction

At first glance, heavy-equipment auctions look like great places to pick up a bargain. But in practice, according to experienced dealers, brokers, and private purchasers, they too frequently offer a motley selection of tired or problem equipment.

Perhaps the biggest reason to avoid auctions is that no one stands behind the sale. Sure you get a clean title, but you take ownership of the equipment “as is,” with unseen problems that could range from hidden pockets of rust to weak hydraulics or a piston rod primed to let go within the next few hours of operation. Few farmers or construction contractors have the know-how (or the willingness to hire experts) to accurately evaluate equipment at auction, cost out any needed repairs, and reckon a fair market price.

What’s more, on top of buying and refurbishing auction equipment, purchasers must also arrange and pay for delivery. Without the right contacts and experience, transporting heavy equipment from auction sites to work sites can eat up time and money. Nor do buyers have access to quality financing at an auction.

It’s no surprise, then, that so many farmers, construction contractors, equipment dealers and brokers are wary of used-equipment auctions. They learned very quickly that every auction purchase can be an expensive learning experience. And even if they like what they bought, they generally can’t go back to that same seller for another good piece of equipment.

“I've bought four different pieces of used equipment,” says Gary Miller, a life-long corn, soybeans, and cattle farmer in Astoria, IL, who's now 65 years old. “The first was a D7G tractor. I talked about it with a well recommended equipment trader, Armadillo Tractor. I told him I wanted something that wouldn't need a lot of extra work once I got it. He lined up a tractor for me at a good price. I wired him the money, and that tractor was delivered to me at no extra charge. It came off the truck and I put it right into the field. Since then, I’ve gone back to Armadillo to buy a D6D, a D4H, and a D6H. All four transactions have been superb, and I've had very little downtime with any of them.”

The key to this kind of reliability in used equipment is proper sourcing. Auctions front for sellers of every kind and category. Boutique equipment traders, however, are able to offer only the cream of the used equipment market.

“You buy a tractor at an auction,” says Mark Gustin, the owner of Armadillo Tractor, “and you don't really know what you bought. Even an expert like me can get burnt. That’s why I stick with low-hour equipment from people I know. Then I go over the equipment to refurbish and even repaint it.”

While auctioned equipment is notorious for unseen headaches, properly sourced and reconditioned equipment can look and feel “nearly new.” “One time,” says Bill Boyle, Used Equipment Manager at Holt Cat Caterpillar in San Antonio, TX, “we sold a used machine that turned out to be not quite right, so we took it back and then sent it to Armadillo for repair. When they were done with it, the very same buyer liked it so much he bought it from us again.”

For more information, contact Mark Gustin at Armadillo Tractor Inc. by calling (936) 931-5300 or e-mail him at sales@armadillotractor.com.