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The first decision you will need to make when choosing a used backhoe is the size and function you need for the model you purchase. Backhoes come in a variety of sizes appropriate for various applications, and the tool attachments can vary as well; determine how you are most likely to use the used backhoe to get a better understanding of what size and functions you will need. Consider, too, your budget for purchasing the unit. Buying a backhoe used will certainly save you money in terms of up-front costs, but remember repairs and maintenance will likely be needed, so be sure to allot money for these incidences.
Whenever possible, choose a brand name used backhoe. If repairs should be necessary, buying a well-known brand name will ensure you will be able to get ahold of parts fairly easily. Sometimes the brand names will even offer an extended warranty, so be sure to ask the seller if a warranty is still active on the used backhoe. Do as much research as possible about the different models you are considering, including common maintenance issues or recalls. Ask the seller for documentation about any repairs that have been done to the used backhoe.
Test drive the used backhoe before purchasing. Be sure to cold-start the unit and pay special attention to the ease with which the unit starts. Take note of how the engine runs, if it has any hitches, or if it otherwise sounds as though engine maintenance may be necessary. Inspect the engine and any fluids, as well as the suspension units of the used backhoe. Drive the backhoe over varied terrain if possible, and use the boom and dipper extensively to ensure they are easy to use, functional, and otherwise in acceptable condition for regular use. If the backhoe features outriggers, be sure to test the functionality of these as well. The outriggers add stability during heavy use, and it is important that they work properly for optimal safety.
Ask the seller which attachments are included with the purchase of the backhoe. The most common attachment is the bucket loader, though many other attachments are available for use on a backhoe. More attachments bring more versatility, so be sure to ask about any added equipment that will make your backhoe purchase more worthwhile. Do not be afraid to negotiate for a lower price if you observe any obvious damage, or if no attachments are included with the purchase.