Preparing Machinery For Sale

Getting Machinery Ready For Sale

We don’t recommend doing major repairs or paint jobs, but it pays to clean, clean, clean

Above all, be honest about the condition of your machinery. . .



Auctioneer Silas Deane and his team has sold lots of machinery over the past 31 years. They have seen lots of good auction preparations and seen some costly mistakes. 


Without good advice, good intentions can cost you when selling machinery. Investing in a new paint job or engine over­haul to improve the salability of machinery rarely pays, say most auctioneers. “As a rule, you won’t recoup the expense of an overhaul or major transmission job, for example,” says Silas Deane of Alliance Real Estate and Auctions of Owensboro, Ky. “If you have to do major work, the only sure way to come out is to run the machinery a couple years to justify the investment and then sell it.”


        Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. “Let’s say you had a nice, low-hour machine with a bad clutch,” says long-time auctioneerBrad Cecil of Alliance, “In this case, with that repair I would say you’ll be OK.   But  overhauling an engine to get it sold is risky.”


Paint jobs rarely pay

The same can generally be said about repainting machinery. A complete paint job just doesn’t pay off, unless you have done a complete rebuild and have a machine as good as the paint is. “Actually, it can reduce a machine’s value,” warns Deane.

Paint jobs often cause potential buy­ers to suspect that the seller is trying to cover something up, explains Cecil. “Touching up dings or dents or even repainting wheels is fine. Anymore than that is risky.”


It’s important to keep machinery as original as possible. “Doing so reas­sures prospective buyers. They know what they are getting,” Deane explains. “After a few years, I had to replace the grill on my old farm tractor. I fashioned a homemade one that works fine, but it will really hurt the resale value. Before I sell it I will invest in a new grill so that it looks original”.  “This is especially true of antique machinery, which many collectors prefer in its original condition.”


There is much you can do, however, to improve the appeal of your machin­ery.

  1. Clean machinery completely. This includes a wash job that removes all dirt and grime. Waxing and buffing to improve paint luster is a must on high dollar machines. If there is a cab, detail it since a clean cab leaves a great first impression. This includes washing windows.
  2. Make sure the battery works. “Like cleaning, this is an absolute must,” says Wedding. “It must be able to start, turning over with strength, on sale day.” “It amazes me how many people skimp on batteries and the machine just won’t start on sale day.
  3. Check all fluids and fill to full lev­els. Change engine or hydraulic fluid if existing oil is dirty.
  4. Inflate all tires. Repair or replace tires that don’t hold air, even slow leaks. But avoid buy­ing expensive tires, like new tractor tires, it rarely pays off. “I’d maybe replace the front tires if they really look bad”,said  Wedding.
  5. Check lights to see that they work.
  6. Providing repair and service records reassures potential buyers. Have manuals, repair records, work orders, invoices, etc. available for inspec­tion. “This does much to give buyers peace of mind,” adds Deane.


            Above all, be honest…

            Be honest about the condition of your machinery. “I really can’t stress this enough,” says Deane “I’ve seen machinery and vehicles with major problems still sell well simply because the owner explained how the machine had been used and what was wrong with it.”


Story Credit to Dave Mowitz - Machinery Editor Successful Farming, January 2005