Purchasing a Used Sweeper (a two part series)

This two part series will offer experience from industry experts on buying used sweepers. Part one educates the reader on what to look for when buying a used sweeper. Part two in next month’s edition will discuss other factors to consider including the original manufacturer, access to OEM parts, typical deal killers, and tips on maintaining a used sweeper.

Why Should You Buy a Used Sweeper?
Most contractors, especially those starting out in the sweeping business, will consider buying a used sweeper for one obvious reason; it’s less expensive than a new sweeper. However, buying a used sweeper has financial benefits beyond a lower purchase price. Another benefit is avoiding significant depreciation. Most sweepers lose 20 to 40 percent of their value within a year of being purchased. After that, depreciation schedules tend to be linear. For depreciation purposes, many types of sweepers have a useful life span of five years. However, sweepers can be used well beyond that point, especially if they are properly maintained.
Shopping for a quality used sweeper can be a time-consuming process, but in the end it can be very rewarding. The savvy buyer should always remember to examine, check, and inspect.

Examine the Seller’s Reputation
The reputation of the seller very important. A reputable seller stands behind the products they sell. Transparency in the sweeper’s history including any previous owners and service records brings a valuable peace of mind to the market. Reputable sellers will also add value by backing up everything they sell with some level of warranty support.

Questions to ask yourself:
– What kind of reputation does the seller have? Ask around and check social media like industry Facebook groups. People freely talk about their experiences online, both positive and negative.
– Is the seller accurately representing the current condition in their sales listing? If you’ve never purchased a piece of equipment from this seller, you’re going to want to check out the sweeper for yourself.
– Is the list price fair? Do a little research and see what similar sweepers have sold for in your area.
Inquire about the sweeper’s former owner if buying from an equipment dealer. Don’t be afraid to ask around the sweeping industry. The reputation of who previously owned the equipment carries much weight in assuring a prospective buyer that the machine was properly operated, cared for, and serviced.

Check the Sweeper’s History
Before investing in a used sweeper, make sure there are no liens against it and that it’s not stolen. If you’re working with a reputable seller this part of the process should be easy because they will already have completed all the necessary steps.
What to look for:
– Check the title – If there is a lien on the equipment, you will need assurance that the lien will be released. Are you willing to take the risk? This goes back to finding out if the seller is reputable. Be sure to do your homework!
– Make sure the sweeper isn’t stolen – Write down the truck’s serial number and call the police department or check with a service like the National Equipment Register’s IRONcheck. (If the seller has clear title in hand, there is little likelihood the sweeper is stolen.)
– Good service history – A sweeper that’s regularly serviced and well maintained will have a longer lifespan. A good preventative maintenance schedule identifies wear and tear early, preventing it from causing major damage. Regular maintenance records are also an indicator that the previous owner took good care of the sweeper, which makes future problems less likely. The previous owner should have copies of maintenance reports and records of when major services were completed.
– Beware of recent repairs – Sometimes repairs are necessary and can add value to the equipment. If there is evidence of major repairs shortly before the sale, it can be a sign that the equipment wasn’t cared for appropriately.

Inspect the Sweeper
Some parts of a sweeper are easier to repair than others. However, there are other parts that are more expensive and time-consuming to repair or replace. Failure of a worn component can cause considerable downtime. Therefore, a thorough inspection is absolutely necessary. Sweepers are no different than any other mechanical machine. They can show obvious signs of wear and poor maintenance if the buyer knows what to inspect. Vibration, noise, or sudden temperature increases can be the result of poor alignment, poor operating technique or inadequate use of lubrication.
Pay particular attention to the following areas:
– Hopper – Check the hopper walls and doors for holes, thickness, signs of excessive corrosion. Be sure to check floor and bottom. If inspecting in person have a flashlight and raise hopper for better visibility.
– Seals – Check all door seals. Does it appear that they have been replaced regularly or are they dry-rotted? Worse yet, are they missing?
– Engine and transmission – Does the engine smoke when it starts? Does it start smoothly?
– Chassis – Is there extensive wear on bearings, mounts, or spring coils? Does the truck start and stop appropriately?
– Hydraulics – Are there signs of damage? Are the hoses hard and brittle? Does the cover crack when flexed or are there any signs of being dried out and charred? Are there any leaks around the hose connections, valves or cylinders?
– Electrical – Check the electrical system, wiring, and switches. Check for splices, electrical tape, butt connectors and condition of wire sheathing. This can indicate there is the potential for electrical issues. Open the console and look inside for the same.
– Battery – Check the battery date, terminal condition, etc.
– Auxiliary Engine – Is it original? If not, when was it replaced?
– Engine Oil – Check engine oil condition, look for antifreeze or other contamination.
– Hydraulic Oil – Check the hydraulic oil condition. It should not be milky. Look for signs of being burnt. Pull the strainer and look for any metal pieces.
– Filters – Check the filters. Do they need to be replaced? Check both the indicators and the actual filters. Take care with air filter and wipe out housing prior to reseating the filter.
– Check all normal wear parts – fan blades, fan housing, back plate, head flaps, skids, fan seal, intake seal, screens, shaft, dust deflector, etc. While these parts are easy to replace, they can quickly add up and be a factor.
If you’re comfortable with sweeper repairs, you may be able to inspect the equipment yourself. If not, hire a mechanic or a technician to conduct an inspection. If you are unable to perform and inspect in person, obtain as much visual information as you can to make the purchasing decision as easy as possible. This information should include photos 360 degrees around the outside of the unit. Also ask for photos inside the cab, inside the hopper, engine, fan housing, sweeping deck and photos of the odometer and hour meters. Better yet, ask for a video with audio of the sweeper actually sweeping. Not only will you see how it performs, you will also be able to hear the engine to determine if there are issues.

For over forty-five years in the sweeping business, Schwarze Industries has been committed to providing an exceptional level of customer support. Schwarze offers one of the most comprehensive sweeper lines in the sweeping business. For additional information visit the Schwarze® website at www.schwarze.com

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