Hello…goodbye. Think of selling when buying.

Hello…goodbye. Think of selling when buying.

January 22, 2019 1 By Ray Bohacz

On every farm there will be a time when you either sell a piece of equipment or become the purchaser of a preowned machine. Sometimes you say hello and other times you say goodbye.

When you are selling or trading-in you want to get the most for the unit. Though price certainly comes into play during the purchase of a late-model preowned machine, the more dominant concern is the quality and the hope of reliable service. The seller needs to instill confidence in the buyer.

The following protocols apply to any equipment, gas or diesel, that can be found on the farm.


Think of resale the day you bring it home


The day it rolls off the trailer and touches the soil of your farm for the first time is when you need to begin thinking about resale value, regardless if it is going to be three years or thirty years in the future.

The first step is to invest less than one dollar. Get a notebook and dedicate it to that machine. Your first entry should be the delivery date and time, clock hours from the factory, the name of the dealer and the cost.

This may seem trite, but it is the foundation of the machine’s history with you. The notebook establishes pride in ownership, an intangible that pays huge dividends when selling.

Subsequently, keep records in the book for each service or repair, the date, hour meter reading, what task was performed, and the brand of parts or lubricants used.

Make a schedule to wash the entire machine and twice a year give it a good wax job. Many believe washing is only for esthetic appeal but there is a mechanical side to cleanliness.

When dust and dirt are left in place for long periods of time it works into moving parts and acts as an abrasive, creating excessive wear and premature failure. You do not need to detail the equipment as if it were going to a show, but scheduled cleaning is just as important as oil changes.

By using a good wax and preferably one with a high level of ultra violet (UV) protection, the unit will not only look good, but it will be protected from rust and deterioration.

With modern engines and equipment, it is always best to use factory parts and filters and in most farm machines, the original lubricants and hydraulic oil. It may be a few dollars more, if even that, but these parts and formulations are exactly what the engineers that designed the equipment want.

Machinery is very complex with a variety of materials used in seals, gaskets, bearings and other components. Why gamble with an issue down the road by using products that are from a different source?

Also, if the machine has an extended warranty that can be transferred to the second owner, your notebook and the use of factory products will be of interest to the buyer and the provider of the warranty, adding resale value.

An important procedure to include is fluid analysis in your preventative maintenance program. Analyze the engine oil and coolant, hydraulic oil and transmission fluid at the minimum of a yearly basis and twice a year on equipment employed year-round. This establishes the internal history of the key components.

Every laboratory provides a printed copy for your files. Testing is approximately $30 per sample. To analyze the four fluids would be an investment of around $120.00.

Fluid analysis is an excellent predictor of a potential problem area and can help if a warranty issue is being challenged.


Look at your equipment through these eyes


It is clean and routinely waxed, everything about the unit from day one is recorded in a notebook along with fluid analysis reports. All service and repair parts are from the factory and were performed on schedule.

Now be honest, wouldn’t this be a machine that would sell quickly at a price above average?

And as an aside, by implementing these simple procedures the equipment will be more reliable and economical to operate while still under your ownership.


An informed buyer


When in the market for preowned equipment begin by speaking with the seller so that you can glean as much of the history as possible. If you are still interested, spend a good deal of time looking everything over, not just a cursory glance. Ask if there are any maintenance records that you can reference. Check to see if the grease cups are full and hydraulic line covers are in place. Often areas that seem inconsequential such as these speak the loudest about the owner’s mindset for maintenance.

Look for signs of fluid leaks on the engine and other areas. On larger diesels check the crankcase ventilation tube and the area around it for excessive oil fumes. This is a strong indicator of worn piston rings and a glazed cylinder wall.

Pull out the air filter and check what it looks like and the brand used. If it is extremely dirty or an off-brand that is not a good sign.

Check the tire pressures as another telltale of the owner’s thought process. A fastidious owner will maintain the proper tire pressure for wear and to limit soil compaction.

Pull all dipsticks and inspect and smell the fluid.

Remove the engine oil fill cap to check for sludge (lack of oil changes or cheap oil). If any white substance is present, there is either a coolant leak into the oil or a nonfunctioning crankcase breather. Both are not good signs.

Start the engine and listen for any sounds, how it runs cold, and if it goes into gear with a hydrostatic or automatic transmission.

Check the exhaust for excessive smoke and note the color.

Operate all systems if applicable such as hydraulics, PTO, etc.

Drive the unit to see how it responds.

If you are satisfied to this point, then make an investment in fluid testing.

Using an extraction pump pull samples from the radiator, engine oil, transmission and hydraulic system. The only caveat being for the test to be valid, the fluids need to have seen service. Hopefully, you can glean when the last service was performed by the records supplied to you or notations on the machine.

If the seller will not let you pull samples and have them checked then I would walk away.

On a diesel with wet cylinder liners the coolant test is extremely important. The laboratory will include elemental analysis. If a good deal of iron is found in the coolant that indicates cylinder liner cavitation erosion or less likely, electrolysis. In either case the engine is on the way out and you need to know that.

Do not be averse to spend the $100.00 on the fluid analysis for a perspective purchase that has passed muster to that point. Would you buy a farm field without a soil test? Then why do so many buy a piece of preowned equipment, no matter how low the hours, without fluid testing? You would be surprised what some people can do to an engine or transmission in a few hundred hours.

The same logic and procedures can be employed to not only farm equipment, but trucks, cars, UTVs, etc.

Make all your machines something that everyone would want to purchase.

When you are investing in preowned, as President Regan used to say, “Trust but verify”.

The markets and weather hold enough surprises for us – we do not need to go and buy any more.