Used Bulldozer Buying Guide
Few machines are more iconic to a construction site than the hard-working, no-nonsense, dependable dirt-moving bulldozer. And, if you’re searching for a used dozer, you’ll quickly discover the market for used bulldozers often offers up a great inventory to choose from – but finding the right dozer for you can be easier said than done.
To help with your search, we’ve put together this simple bulldozer buying guide to help you identify the perfect bulldozer for your business with simple tips on what to look for and what questions to ask yourself and the seller.
What size and type of bulldozer do I need?
Whether you’re searching for a used dozer to round out your fleet, you’re going to add a bulldozer to your team to amp up your offerings, or even if you’re after a replacement dozer for one you have, now is the time to ask yourself what types of jobs you’ll be doing with this new dozer.
Ensuring the dozer will appropriately match the general size of the work you do will lead to efficiencies in your work and help ensure you don’t have a dozer too big or too small for many of your jobs. Beyond size, you’ll also want to narrow your search to fit the appropriate blade type and to ensure any other attachments fit your size and type of work.
The size of your dozer will also affect how it’s transported from job site to job site, its ability to keep up with the demands of other equipment on the site, and how maneuverable it is on the site, so take a minute to layout how the dozer will work as a member of the team and not as a solo working unit.
Learn more about bulldozer blades in our Bulldozer Blade Buying Guide.
Who makes the best bulldozers?
When it comes to determining what bulldozer manufacturer consistently makes the best bulldozers, often it’s a matter of personal preference – and disagreeing with a loyal customer base can be the equivalent to wearing the wrong cap to a baseball game. That being said some bulldozer manufacturers have developed a reputation in delivering consistently high-quality dozers.
Generally the top brands in bulldozers are considered to be:
What year bulldozer should I buy?
When it comes to buying construction equipment, it generally goes that everyone likes new or nearly new except whomever is paying the bill. For a used bulldozer, you’ll want to balance price with how long you can expect to use the machine and make your investment back.
You’ll also want to think smartly about the availability and cost of replacement parts. An older machine might be entering a market where replacement used parts have already gone onto other machines, but a too recent model might also suffer from a lack of inventory for replacement parts, especially given current worldwide shipping and inventory issues.
What bulldozer parts to inspect before buying a used dozer?
When you’re inspecting a bulldozer (in person or online), it’s important to take a close look at some of the important components on the machine. While not always a dealbreaker, knowing the conditions of these parts will help you evaluate the suitability of the dozer for your needs.
The blade on the dozer should be of an appropriate style for your work (or plan on the cost to change). It’s also important to note that while a complex blade can add new dimensions to your work, it also introduces new points for wear and repair.
Beyond style, it’s important to look for welds or overwearing in the blade. A good weld can last, but it should be noted. And if cutting surfaces are worn thin, you’ll want to plan for improvements.
You’ll also want to examine the back of the machine and determine the condition of winches or rippers.
The undercarriage on a used bulldozer can often be one of the most costly areas to repair or replace so extra care should be taken to ensure it is suitable for your needs. In inspecting the undercarriage:
- Look for warped or overworn rollers and the same for the front idler.
- Check the teeth in the sprocket for heavy wear.
- Visually check the level of wear on the cleats as this is a clear indication of the remaining life of the track.
Cylinders, Hydraulic System Leaks, and Fluid Levels
- Watch for leaks in hydraulic lines.
- Check the chrome on cylinders and look for leaks around seals.
- Cylinders can often be rebuilt, but you should take this into account in your search.
- Examine the final drives for leaks in hydraulic connections and for leaks in gear oil.
- Check all fluid levels to ensure they’ve been properly maintained.
- While the current fluid level of the machine won’t always indicate the levels under which it was run, low levels during inspection often indicate a leak or a simple lack of maintenance before the inspection.
- Take a look at fluid for murkiness or darkness to spot signs of contamination.
The Cab and Electronics
The cab can be an often skipped point of evaluation, but given the advancements in cabs and technology, a good look at the cab can reveal needed repairs on the horizon. In inspecting the cab:
- Look at gauges and electronics to ensure they work.
- Watch for general wear and tear that indicates a part won’t last long.
- Notice any added tech features that are included and would be of use on your jobs.
How much should I pay for a used bulldozer?
Even before inspection, you might know if the dozer is right for you and your work, and after inspection you should be closer to determining if the dozer is priced right for you. Given increased demand, the used bulldozer market can be competitive and understanding what to pay can seem complex. To find the perfect dozer, you might need to do a little math.
Being able to spot issues on the dozer can help in your negotiations and often a dozer might be discounted due to easily fixable issues (or even worries that issues will develop). If you have time and resources, plan for the costs of parts and repairs and determine if a lower cost should be negotiated. If the machine will need work, you can always weigh the cost and time of that work to see if it is dwarfed by the savings in the machine.
What should I look for when buying a bulldozer online?
When you’re searching for a used bulldozer online, you should always consider the seller. A responsive seller with an established history is a good indication that they are committed to working with customers and delivering a good product. And you should never hesitate to ask for pictures (or even video) to ensure you both agree on the condition of the machine and its component parts.
Often the history of the machine — what it's done and how it's been taken care of — is written in the condition of the machine and its parts, and a reputable seller will be glad to show they’re accurately representing the machine.
Hopefully, these short dozer buying tips will help you in your search.
At H&R, we’re dedicated to a rigorous inspection and evaluation process and that starts the second we interact with a machine. For machines we resell, that inspection process helps us ensure our customers purchase a machine that will meet their needs.
The bulk of the heavy construction equipment we source at H&R is headed to salvage, but being thoughtful in how we analyze the dozers we buy helps ensure the parts we'll salvage are the parts our customers need.
As always, if you’re searching for replacement parts for your dozer (or other heavy construction equipment) our Parts Specialists are here to help. As a leader in salvaging bulldozers, our inventory of available parts is hard to match and with special tools and connections our Parts Specialists are always happy to search our vast, connected parts network, too. Just drop them a line.