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Home / JJE Articles Page 3 / Looking for a used street sweeper? Take a closer look

Looking for a used street sweeper? Take a closer look.
Chris Vanderhof- Manager, Q-Equips

Question - Why is a 2005 Eagle listed at $80,000 from a local dealer when I recently watched one sell at an auction for $40,000? Then I find another one listed in the classifieds for $60,000 from a broker?

Answer - They are not the same sweeper.

Even though you think you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to comparing used street sweepers with regards to miles, hours and vintage, there is a lot more to consider.

Whether you are an established sweeping contractor or a construction company looking to add a sweeper to your arsenal of equipment, you must first look at your application. With several different types of sweepers currently in production, it is essential that you determine which would work best for your sweeping needs. Many people have made the mistake of purchasing a street sweeper without paying any consideration to what materials they will be picking up.  The reason there are different configurations of street sweepers is for different applications.

Once you have determined what type of sweeper will best suit your needs, now you are ready to go shopping.

The all-mighty dollar is always a driving factor when you make any purchase but the main focus should be on value. Referring back to the opening question of “Why do prices vary so much for what appears to be comparable sweepers?”  It’s what you can’t see that makes all the difference. Street sweepers may be one of the most maintenance intensive pieces of equipment you own.  There are a lot of mechanical parts and wear items and if they are not properly maintained, they could cost you a lot in downtime and repairs. There are a lot of sweeper owners that neglect the maintenance side of their street sweepers. If the sweeper is running fine then they do not feel the need to invest in maintenance. This will definitely save the current owner a few dollars but could become your issue after purchasing one of the street sweepers.

Many sweeper buyers pay too much attention to the cosmetics of the sweeper. There are some resellers that take advantage of this by advertising their sweepers as “refurbished” or “rebuilt” when all they have done is repainted the unit and added some new wear parts. As the saying goes "You can put lipstick on a pig"...

Does the unit look like a great sweeper? Absolutely. 

Does it perform like a great sweeper? Possibly.

Will it still be a great sweeper three or four years down the road? Maybe.

Let’s review our three price point examples for a 2005 Eagle.

The Price Point Review

$40,000 from a local auction house may be a great deal or a great big lemon. You can find municipal surplus, financial repossessions and contractor units at auction. With a wide variety of vendors you will also receive variable consistency with condition. Your low purchase price point could be blown out of the water after you get the unit home and get a closer look. Some makes and models have an unstable history or may even be obsolete making it difficult (and sometimes very expensive) to locate parts.  Sometimes the low price point at an auction can be attractive but without doing your homework you could end up making a poor investment.

This brings us to our $60,000 price tag for our 2005 Eagle sweeper.  What happened to the last unit that you decided not to buy at the auction? You may be looking right at it with a fresh paint job and some new brooms and not even know it. There are a lot of dealers and brokers in the marketplace today who pick-up inventory at auctions. Some of which do a great job at remarketing them at fair prices and adding value to be passed on to the end user. Unfortunately there are many dealers and brokers who are simply flipping equipment to make a quick buck. We hear stories all the time of that sweeper that looked to be in perfect condition and was a great price and they just couldn’t pass it up.

It is important to have confidence in where you are purchasing your street sweeper from. If your sales person can’t answer simple questions about the machine, there is a good chance the technician that completed the “rebuild” or “refurbishment” doesn’t know either.

Finally we get to our $80,000 price point.  Now that we have seen the rest and done our homework this should be our best investment, right?

Hopefully.

There is a good chance that you have found the best value when you purchase a unit from a dealer that has experience with street sweepers. They should be able to provide you with some insight on the unit’s history as well as what mechanical work has been completed. They may also offer training and manuals that will provide you with some extra value for your money. Most reputable dealers will also provide you with some form of assurance with regards to the sweeper’s performance after the purchase.

In these cases the initial purchase price may seem higher than other options going in, but lowering your life-cycle costs over the course of ownership is a solid investment. We would encourage you to do your homework in this case to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable company.

As with every part of your business there are risks and rewards. As a business manager you make risk / reward decisions on a daily basis. You can minimize those risks by doing your homework and making your next sweeper purchase from a reputable dealer.