5 Tips & What to Look For When Buying a Used Telehandler

5 Tips & What to Look For When Buying a Used Telehandler
5 Tips & What to Look For When Buying a Used Telehandler
Author: Small Business Expert | April 1, 2021 | Topic: Used Equipment

5 Tips and What To Look for When Buying a Used Telehandler

When you're in the market for a used telehandler, there are many options to choose from. To get the best telehandler for your company's needs, you can consider a few factors and inspect the equipment before you make a purchase. By taking time to review your needs and the condition of the telehandler, you're more likely to receive a cost-effective, efficient machine.

Before shopping for a used telehandler, review the main things to look for when buying a used telehandler and the primary inspection tips to take into account.

What to Consider When Buying a Used Telehandler

Knowing what to look for when buying a used telehandler is critical to choosing the right one for your projects. Evaluating your project's requirements, ensuring a telehandler has the right boom design and double-checking the specs can all help you find the right telehandler for your crew. Learn more about the things to check before buying a used telehandler below:

What to Consider When Buying a Used Telehandler


  • Evaluate your needs: It's important to first evaluate your needs before you search for a machine. The best telehandler will have enough capacity and reach to meet your usual project requirements. While the largest telehandler might be the most tempting, it's a good idea to stick to a telehandler in a size that fits your most common projects.
  • Check the telehandler's use: A telehandler with lots of hours on it might experience maintenance issues and need more frequent repairs than a machine with lower hours. Before you buy a telehandler, look at the equipment's history to see the hours logged on the machine. If you only need a telehandler for a short period of time, an option with more hours may be suitable.
  • Pick the right boom design: Telehandler booms usually come in two main profiles — high and low. Choosing the right profile depends on your regular work requirements. Typically, high profile booms are better at pick-and-place tasks, while low-profile booms are suited for loader work and ground engagement tasks.
  • Consider attachment compatibility: You may want to add attachments to your telehandler to increase its capabilities. Ensuring the telehandler you purchase is compatible with attachments you own or that you plan to buy can help you start a job faster and protect your telehandler from damage from incompatible attachments. Keep in mind attachments are often compatible only with telehandlers from the same brand.
  • Account for the telehandler's specs: It's a great idea to establish the specs you need from your machinery. Telehandlers differ in the height they reach, their carrying capacity and attachment capabilities. By determining the criteria a telehandler needs to meet, you're more likely to pick the best telehandler possible.

5 Inspection Tips for Used Telehandlers

After you identify a telehandler that meets your needs, you can perform an inspection on it to ensure everything is in working order. Following inspection tips for used telehandlers can help you spot potential mechanical and structural issues that could cost you in repair and maintenance expenses down the road. Below are the top five used telehandler inspection tips:


1. Inspect the Mechanical Systems

Before you purchase a telehandler, it's crucial you perform a mechanical inspection. Checking the mechanical system is especially important because problems with this part of the telehandler can be costly to repair. Since a cursory inspection usually isn't enough to detect defects or damage in the system, it's crucial you take the time to do an in-depth review of the various mechanical system parts.

The following are key inspection tips for mechanical systems:

  • Look for leaks: Start by checking for engine leakage, as this is major evidence the telehandler hasn't been properly cared for. Inspect the gaskets, seals and valves to ensure there are no cracks or damage. Additionally, look at the ground for any signs of fluid leaking.
  • Examine the hydraulic system: Next, look at the hydraulic system to ensure there's no leakage. Run the telehandler, listening for any strange noises while you operate it.
  • Review the meter: Inspect the hour meter, seeing if it's working properly and adequately sealed. Check if there are any signs of tampering and record the usage showing on the meter.
  • Inspect fluids: A telehandler's steering, braking and engine fluids should be in good condition. Inspect them and assess whether they need replacement.
  • Check braking and steering systems: Finally, it's crucial the braking and steering systems are functioning properly. Run the machine and see if the brakes, including the parking and service brakes, function in an efficient manner. Additionally, steer the machine, ensuring the steering is responsive.


2. Check the Structural Systems

Alongside inspecting the mechanical system, you may want to conduct a structural system inspection. Like mechanical system damage, any structural system damage may not be obvious at first glance. A close inspection of these systems safeguards you from purchasing a telehandler in poor condition.

Below are some tips for properly checking a used telehandler's structural systems:

  • Review the chassis, frame, mast and boom for cracks: Start your structural inspection by looking for cracks or other signs of damage on the telehandler's frame, mast, boom and chassis. Damage to these parts can reduce the effectiveness of the machine and increase the chances it breaks down.
  • Run the boom and mast: Put the boom and mast through their normal function to see if they're operating properly, without any shuttering or binding during retraction. You should also check if their metal is bent, as bent metal could be a major sign of damage.
  • Check for previous boom structural repairs: While a previous owner will often inform you if they've conducted any repairs on the boom's structure, you should still double-check. Past repairs of a boom can be a sign that the machine's integrity is compromised and it might not be able to lift heavier loads. Signs of welding, shuttering or binding during retraction are some of the red flags indicating previous repairs.
  • Ensure attachments are compatible: Before you purchase a telehandler, check what attachments the previous owner has been using on the telehandler. When a telehandler is outfitted with incompatible attachments, like those that are too small or large and those that don't fit, it's more likely the equipment has experienced wear, accelerating the need for major repairs. Since incompatible attachments can place more stress on telehandlers, you may want to avoid machinery that has been used extensively with the wrong attachments.


3. View the Machine's Exterior

Though there are many warning signs that aren't immediately obvious, you can spot some red flags while doing a quick check of the overall machine's appearance. If the machine looks like it's in bad condition, it likely is. Check out the following exterior inspection tips:

  • Review plastic and glass partitions: While viewing the exterior, see if the plastic and glass partitions have any cracks in them. You need your operator to be safe in the cab, so ensuring the glass or plastic is secure is a must.
  • Inspect the tires: Check the tires for any punctures or damage to the surface. Look at the tread, as a worn tread will indicate you'll need to replace the tires soon. You may also want to verify the sidewall's condition, ensuring there's no damage inside or outside. The tires should be from a trusted manufacturer and fit properly.
  • See how clean the machine is: A reputable seller will likely take the time to clean their machinery before you view it. If the equipment is covered in dirt or grime, it may be a sign that the previous owner hasn't taken good care of it.
  • Check for obvious damages: Paint cracks or dents on the exterior can be other evidence a telehandler hasn't been properly maintained. Any panels, such as engine panels, should also be undamaged.


4. Look at the Cab and Operate the Telehandler

After viewing the exterior of the machine, step into the cab to look at the interior. Check if the cab seating is free from damage and clean. Cuts or stains on the rubber, fabric or leather of the seating can be warning signs.

Next, verify the controls are in good condition. Avoid purchasing a telehandler with duct tape on the controls or other signs the controls aren't in their original condition. Look under the dash to ensure there aren't any wires hanging under it. Finally, run the telehandler and use the controls, checking if they all work properly.


5. Review Maintenance Documents and History

Before you finish your inspection, check if the previous owner has complete maintenance records. These records can let you know if the telehandler has had any major repairs that could harm the machine's longevity or ability to complete certain tasks. The telehandler's maintenance history also reveals if the previous owner kept up with routine maintenance and repair tasks.

As you look at the documents, note how much time passed between service dates. Long waits between service times can reveal improper maintenance practices. You may want to check the machine's owner's manual to cross-reference if the previous owner has conducted the right types of repairs and followed the recommended service intervals. When a previous owner doesn't have a complete maintenance history for their telehandler, you may want to look for a different option.

Why Buy a Used Telehandler From Cat Used?

Cat Used offers Cat® machinery with trusted benefits. Before our dealers offer used telehandlers to clients, the machinery is inspected, appraised, cleaned and filled with fluids. With this rigorous preparation process, Cat Used clients can feel confident they're purchasing high-quality machinery for their fleet.

Why Buy a Used Telehandler from Cat Used?


Learn more about the primary benefits of buying a used telehandler from Cat Used below:

  • Greater value: Used telehandlers come with excellent value. You get lower upfront costs because you're purchasing used, and you also receive the reliability and rebuildability of Cat machines. As a result, you can expect your investment to pay off. If you want to sell the machine down the road, you can likely recoup a portion of your investment due to the Caterpillar reputation of producing reliable machines.
  • Long-term reliability: While all used equipment usually comes with the advantage of a lower cost, Cat Used telehandlers also offer exceptional reliability. Cat equipment is built to last, and the prevalence of Cat equipment on the used market proves it. This durability means your company can get more productivity out of a telehandler before you replace it.
  • Trusted maintenance support: Though Cat equipment is built to last, any telehandler will need repairs or replacement parts at some time. Your local dealer can help you identify areas that need maintenance and supply parts that are perfect for your telehandler's needs. As a result, you can expect your telehandler to last longer, with all its maintenance taken care of optimally.
  • Extensive inventory: When you turn to Cat Used, you can expect to find a wide variety of telehandlers. If you want more than a telehandler, our dealers' extensive machinery offerings mean you can rely on us as a one-stop shop for machinery.
  • Cat Certified Used options: Another benefit of buying from Cat Used is your ability to select Cat Certified Used telehandlers. These telehandlers are the gold standard in used machinery, as they've been through a rigorous qualification process. These late-model, low-hour, warranty-backed telehandlers undergo an in-depth inspection, perform as good as new, and deliver higher resale value when you're ready to move on to your next piece of equipment.
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Choose Cat Used for Your Next Telehandler

After reviewing our used telehandler buying guide and identifying the main tips for buying a used telehandler, turn to your local Cat Used dealer for your next telehandler. The varied inventory of Cat telehandlers provides an option for any situation. Our dealers extend all of our clients high-quality support, whether they're buying used or new. You can trust your dealer's team to help you select the right telehandler and get the most value out of it over time.

Browse the inventory of used telehandlers on Cat Used today. If you have any questions, find and contact a Cat dealer in your area to learn more about a piece of equipment for sale. When a piece of equipment isn't available, you can also sign up for email alerts to know when it hits the market.

Choose Cat Used for Your Next Telehandler

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Choose Cat Used for Your Next Telehandler
Choose Cat Used for Your Next Telehandler