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6 Tips for Buying Used Tech
For nearly a decade, Jonathan Bickel has been buying, selling, and consigning precision ag equipment. Based in Indiana, the used precision ag specialist offers six tips to consider before purchasing used ag technology.
1. Inspect The Screen.
If you’re in the market for a used monitor, one of the first things you should look at is screen condition.
“Display screens do wear out,” says Bickel, who owns Used Precision Ag Solutions (usedprecisionag.com). “Screens tend to last five to six years depending on use. When I buy an older monitor, I budget in replacing screens.”
Replacing a screen, he says, can range from $300 to $1,000. Remember also that some screens may no longer be made, which can make finding a replacement difficult. This holds true for less-popular screens, as well.
2. Know Which Unlocks Are Included.
When purchasing a used display and even some of the auto steer controllers, many will contain unlock codes to activate certain features or accuracy upgrades.
“You need to know exactly which unlocks you are getting with a used display to know if you are paying a fair price,” he says. “For example, if you buy an Ag Leader display thinking it has a multiproduct unlock code and it doesn’t, it’s going to cost you an additional $750 to add that unlock.”
It’s also important to know which unlocks you want, because it can cost a lot more to add them to a used display than if you buy a display that already includes them.
“For example, say I buy a used Trimble FMX display on WAAS for $3,000,” Bickel says. “If I want to have it unlocked to access RTK and GLONASS, it will cost me an additional $5,000. If I bought that same display with those unlocks already on them, I would pay around $5,500, which makes those unlocks worth about half of their original value.”
3. Test Things Out.
If you buy an item and are not going to use it for six months, you should still test it to make sure it’s what you need and that it works.
“It will be a lot easier to return an item and get a refund if you do it within a week of purchase rather than six months down the road when you can’t find the number of the person you bought it from,” Bickel says.
In most instances, new may become your only alternative. Remember, you were trying to save money.
4. Take A Picture.
Try to get pictures of any used precision ag technology items you are interested in buying. These images are a great indication of how well the current owners take care of their equipment and, ultimately, the technology.
“If a machine is covered in dirt and is weather checked, you can surmise that it rarely gets washed or is stored outside,” Bickel says. “It says a lot about how the electronics are treated, as well.”
5. Check Updates/Firmware.
When you buy a used piece of precision ag technology, one of the first things you will need to do is make sure the firmware or software is up to date. Most companies have firmware updates annually, and they are free.
“Some items are easy to update and can be downloaded from the company’s website and easily installed,” he says. “Some updates are not so easy to update and may need to be done by a dealer.”
6. Do The Research.
You need to know the retail price of the item you are looking to purchase so you don’t overpay.
“The whole reason you are buying used is to save money,” Bickel says. “There is more to a purchase than just buying the main component. Cabling can be a nightmare without the proper research.”