Adding resale value to your equipment

Start by keeping a notebook on each machine to record its history.

On every farm, there will be a time when you either sell a piece of equipment or buy a preowned machine. 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. 

Think of resale from day one

The day it rolls off the trailer and touches the soil of your farm is the day you need to begin thinking about resale value, regardless of whether that happens three or 30 years in the future.

The first step is to invest less than $1 in a notebook dedicated to that machine. Your first entry in the notebook should be the delivery date and time, tach hours, the name of the dealer or other seller you got it from, and its cost. This may seem trite, but this establishes the foundation of the machine’s history. And the notebook establishes pride in ownership, which is an intangible that pays huge dividends when selling the equipment in the future. 

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

Wash it twice a year

Make a schedule to wash the entire machine twice a year, and give it a good wax job while you’re at it. Many believe washing is only for aesthetic appeal. Yet there is a mechanical side to cleanliness: When dust and dirt are left in place for long periods of time, they work into moving parts and act as an abrasive, reating 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, preferably one with a high level of ultraviolet protection, the unit will not only look good but also have protection from rust and deterioration.

Go with OEM replacement parts

It’s always best to use factory parts and filters and, in most machines, the original lubricants and hydraulic oil equipment. OEM supplies may cost a few dollars more, if that. These parts and formulations are exactly what the engineers who 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?

If the machine has an extended warranty that can be transferred to the second owner, your notebook and the use of OEM products will be of particular interest to the buyer – it all adds to the resale value.

Fluid analysis

An important procedure to include is fluid analysis in your preventive maintenance program. Analyze the engine oil and coolant, hydraulic oil, and transmission fluid on a yearly basis (at a minimum) and twice a year on equipment that is worked year-round. 

Testing is approximately $25 per sample. Analyzing the four fluids takes an investment of around $100.

Fluid analysis establishes the internal history of the key components, is an excellent predictor of a potential problem area, and can help if a warranty issue is being challenged.

The analysis reports (received from the test company go in the notebook along with fluid analysis reports. These records, along with regular maintenance, help a machine sell quickly at a price above average. As an aside, by implementing these simple procedures, the equipment will be more reliable and economical to operate while still under your ownership.

When buying used equipment

When in the market for preowned equipment, begin by speaking with the seller so 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 giving it a cursory glance.

Ask if there are any maintenance records you can reference.

Check to see if the machine has been greased and hydraulic line covers are in place. Often, areas that seem inconsequential tell the loudest story about the owner’s mind-set for maintenance.

Look for signs of fluid leaks on the engine and in 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 is an off-brand, that is not a good sign.

Check the tire pressures as another telltale sign 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 (caused by a 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.

Start the engine and listen for any unusual sounds, how it runs cold, and if it goes into gear smoothly. 

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. 

Remember: For the test to be valid, the fluids need to have seen service. Hopefully, you can glean the date the last service was performed by the records supplied to you or notations on the machine. If the seller won’t let you pull samples and have them checked, walk away.

Coolant condition

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 spending $100 on fluid tests for a prospective purchase.

Would you buy a farm field without a soil test? Then why would you want to 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 of use.

The same logic and procedures can be employed for all equipment, trucks, cars, UTVs, etc. Maintain your machines in such a way that everyone would want to purchase them.

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