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Buying a New vs. Used Bulldozer

When it comes to a major purchase, the question of whether to buy new or used is a common one. Each option has pros and cons, but with even used bulldozers costing anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, the implications of this choice are far-reaching.

As always, research and preparation are your friends. Make a list of the types of features you want and need in a bulldozer. In addition, consider your typical job site, as this plays a large role in determining the size of machine and types of attachments you'll need. Check out some of our other articles on bulldozers to help you answer these questions.

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Advantages of Buying New

Buying new typically costs substantially more, but it comes with some hard-to-beat perks. If you mentally tick off multiple items from this list, you may want to add more weight to the "new" column.

Advantages include:

  • The warranty includes maintenance (the top reason many people choose new)
  • Greater safety features, since new models are compliant with all of the latest OSHA requirements
  • Greater reliability and therefore reduced downtime due to maintenance
  • Take advantage of tax and finance opportunities, such as the Section 179 deduction (discuss with your accountant for full details)
  • Want the latest technology and even plan to make a yearly trade to always have the newest tech

Advantages of Buying Used

Buying used also carries a variety of benefits, especially if you take the time to find the best used model available. The most common reason, of course, is financial. Typically, you save in the neighborhood of 40 percent when compared to new model pricing (and sometimes more). Other benefits include:

  • Easier to negotiate on used equipment
  • If you require a bulldozer only occasionally, purchasing a used machine makes sense
  • They make great backup machines when your need increases or your new bulldozer requires maintenance
  • Used machines with numerous extra features and add-ons cost about the same as a barebones new model

Disadvantages to Buying New

The main disadvantage of buying new is the cost. A new bulldozer starts in the $150,000 range, and that's for a small CAT model with no extra features. You can spend eight to 10 times that amount for a large model with all the bells and whistles.

Disadvantages to Buying Used

Unfortunately, there are a lot more disadvantages to buying used than there are to buying new. It'd be so much easier if it only came down to price.

One of the disadvantages is safety. This includes both official safety concerns, i.e. OSHA compliance, and practical safety matters. If you work a jobsite, you're already familiar with the fact that OSHA updates its guidelines every year. Heavy equipment manufacturers stay on top of these changes, ensuring that their bulldozers and other machines meet OSHA requirements. It's possible that any used machine you purchase does not, especially if it's more than a few years old. You also need to worry about practical safety matters. Plenty of operators are familiar with "off-book" modifications (even though OSHA forbids them). The reason these mods are a no-no is that they often negatively impact safe operation. Standard wear and tear also may make the machine less safe, particularly if it has significant operator hours.

The Bottom Line

In the end, only you know if you really must have a new model or if a used machine will meet your needs. For some, the peace of mind that a new unit brings is worth the extra cost. For others, lack of resources or even minimal job requirements make buying new prohibitive.

If you do choose to purchase a used bulldozer, consider the following:

  • Choose a well-known brand such as Caterpillar. Top manufacturers earn their reputations, meaning their machines typically have a longer lifespan, making them good choices for used equipment. It's also easier to find replacement parts for these manufacturers.
  • Look carefully at the dealer as well. You want someone who has been in business for long enough that you can be sure that, if something goes wrong, that dealer will still be around to take care of your problem.
  • Review contracts carefully before signing anything to ensure you understand exactly what that cost includes. If one quote includes maintenance and delivery and another doesn't, that is not a fair comparison.

In the end, though, if you know the machine will get regular use, investing in a new bulldozer is your best bet. You just can't beat the warranty and reliability of new when you're looking at a piece of equipment you plan to use every day.

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