How to Evaluate Used Equipment Before Buying: Researching the Dealer

Used equipment – there are some ”Big-As-F” Reasons to Buy and we’ve spent the past few weeks discussing Tips for Making a Purchase. The most important step in buying any older machinery is to learn as much as you can about the equipment, its past, and the owner/dealer/seller. Recently, we covered important considerations for Inspecting the Machine and Learning the History. Today, we’ll continue to look at How to Evaluate Used Equipment Before Buying by discussing what goes into Researching the Dealer!!

Learning about the dealer – and, if the dealer is selling on behalf of someone else, the original owner – is important supplemental information for establishing both the history of used equipment and the current state of the machine. Knowing an owner/dealer’s experience and reputation helps you confirm equipment quality and provides a greater degree of confidence in the purchase. Here are some tips for researching a used equipment dealer:

  • Check online. A few basic Google searches can get you started with reviews, testimonials, and potentially even business reports of the owner or dealer.
  • Ask around. Talk to other businesses or individuals who have made similar purchases from the owner/dealer. This will help you get an impression of what it is like to conduct a transaction with the seller. It also lets you know if equipment the dealer sells lives up what they describe or promise before the sale.
  • Request a background check. An independently conducted check can give you greater clarity on who you’re dealing with and how they run their business. It’s not rude and dealers should be accustomed to it.
  • Look for consistency. Meet the owner/dealer and inspect the machine. If anything you see or hear doesn’t match up with the equipment ads or the information you’ve already researched, it may indicate a less-than-ethical sale. Don’t throw around wild accusations – mistakes happen, things get misunderstood – but do ask lots of questions about anything that doesn’t seem to add up.
  • Confirm ownership. You don’t want to buy stolen or otherwise illicit equipment (an orange jumpsuit looks good on no one), so at least ask to see the original invoice that proves ownership. For extra confirmation that a machine isn’t stolen, feel free to check the PIN with the local police station or through equipment-check services from organizations like the National Equipment Register.
    • Note: Some people may try to sell a machine before they have finished paying off their original purchase. If the person you are buying from still owes a bank money for the equipment, they may not be the real owner – it’s probably the bank – and that person cannot officially transfer ownership to you. If there’s a lien on a piece of equipment, the title will likely list the bank, and you should only take up the purchase with that institution. Trust us, all kinds of legal and financial headaches will follow if you don’t keep things aboveboard.

Remember, many owners and dealers belong to professional organizations, so that’s another outlet for checking their background or asking about their reputation. It can also provide more peace of mind if their membership in the organization included an agreement or oath of ethics. Knowing you can rely on the seller of used equipment, as well as thoroughly inspecting the machine and learning the equipment history, can help you trust that you’re making the right purchase!! And of course, you can head over to for all your new and used equipment needs!!

What do you most want to know about an owner/dealer before buying from them?? Let us know in the comments below!!


Ethan Smith HeadshotAbout the Author

Ethan Smith

Ethan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.

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