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Buying a Backhoe – 4 Tips & Things to Know

August 22, 2022

Buying a Backhoe – 4 Tips & Things to Know


A backhoe gets its name from the way the digging bucket pulls the dirt backwards, instead of pushing the dirt forward like a traditional shovel. Backhoe loaders will make the work much easier by combining two popular functions, digging and moving saving construction companies time and money. Buying a backhoe is an important task that can take in consideration of many factors.  We have compiled a list of the top four tips and things to know before buying your next backhoe.

1. What Should I Look for When Buying a Backhoe?

When determining what backhoe to buy you must first ask yourself what will you need the machine for? Knowing the requirements of the job you will be performing is essential before you buy a backhoe or any other piece of construction equipment.

Consider the Size and Power you Need

Backhoe Loaders can be separated into 2 types: Center Mount and Side Shift.  Both are great in overall performance, but differ in maneuverability and stability. You must also consider if you need 2WD or 4WD. 2WD is mostly used in landscape and mulching jobs, while a 4WD is needed for an unstable work area or when you want extra stability for carrying heavy bucket loads.

Backhoe sizes

Center Mount Backhoes, aka Center Pivot, mount the backhoe in the center of the rear so it cannot move. Stabilizers have a wider stance than the Side Shift allowing additional height along with a stronger center of gravity. Center Mount Backhoes with this wider stance gives these backhoe loaders the stability advantage needed when working on uneven, steep terrain or moving heavy loads.

Side Shift Backhoes on the other hand are not fixed in the center. This allows them to move from side to side and extend vertically. Their stabilizers extend straight down from the sides instead of creating the wide stance. Tight maneuvering in small spaces is a huge advantage to side shift backhoe loaders.

Hydraulics & Attachments
The hydraulic system drives the machine’s lifting strength and responsiveness, enabling the machine to work faster throughout the work cycle. Consider the attachments you plan on working with, and understand the hydraulic flows required for each. Equipping your backhoe with the right attachments will give you versatility to get the most out of your investment. Also, be sure to ask about the machine’s coupler options. This will often help determine the scope and variety of attachments you can use with the machine.

Transportation & Access
When purchasing a new machine, transportation is always an important consideration. You need to consider what trailer size is needed for transport and if you will need any attachments to complete the job. If you do not plan to purchase your own trailer, VeriTread can connect you with the best carrier with the right equipment to transport your new backhoe to the job site.

Many backhoe loaders offer a standard control system similar to an excavator. Using ISO (International Standards Organization) the right hand controls the stick and bucket motion, while the left hand controls the swing and the boom. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineering) are the opposite. Most operators have a strong preference between an ISO (aka John Deere Controls) or SAE (aka Cat Controls) pattern.

Tires & Treads
Many brands of backhoes have different sized tires on the front vs rear. Backhoe tire sizes range from 11 to 21. A common front tire size is 12-16.5 with a rear tire size of 19.5L-24. 19.5L refers to 19.5 inches in width with the L meaning Low Section Width. The 24 refers to the inner opening of the tire where the rim will be placed. Depending on what jobs you are using your backhoe for, it’s often the front tires wear out more quickly than the rear tires or vise versa. The wear on the front and back are usually not equal in timing.

Tread pattern is another important factor when choosing tires for your backhoe. First you must determine the jobs you will be using the backhoe for. Then select the best tread patter for the majority of usage. I3 is a specialty patter with good flotation. F3 is a steer tire used mostly on roads. R4 is a good tread for general use and loose material. L4/L5 are best used on asphalt. Radial tires are for asphalt use vs bias. Radial tires are made up of radial cords in the sidewall giving it springlike flexibility and comfort during the ride.

2. What Is the Average Price of a Backhoe?

backhoe loader

Backhoe prices vary based on several factors including size, brand, and performance. A backhoe can range between $15,000 to $80,000 and even higher. Whether the backhoe comes equipped with attachments also influences the cost. You will need to determine what you will be using the backhoe for and what your budget will be before looking to buy a backhoe. You can easily customize your backhoe to the exact application needed. There are several manufacturers ready to build your backhoe loader. Visit Case, Caterpillar, John Deere, JCB, Komatsu, or your favorite dealership to get started.

3. Should I Buy a New or Used Backhoe?


While most brand new backhoes can range from $15,000 to $80,000+, many look to buy a used backhoe. Used backhoe loaders can be discounted from 25 – 50% making them an attractive solution to your budget needs. Many factors determine the cost of used backhoes like the current hours on the odometer. The bucket type on the loader backhoe. A 4 in 1 bucket is a much more expensive attachment than a standard bucket. You’ll also have to take into consideration if the Cab is Enclosed with Heat/AC or OROPS. You will want to have a full inspection completed before considering the purchase. This will be performed by a licensed mechanic who will look over the entire machine as well as any attachments to give you a guide of the current wear and tear.

You can use this inspection to estimate the life span left on the used machine. You’ll also want to consider the maintenance of a used backhoe as those tend to increase as the machine ages. Backhoe Loaders can hold their value well, so you should think about if this is a machine you are going to keep around for a while. If it is, consider buying new.  If you still think a used model is best a quick Google search of “used backhoe for sale” and give you a good starting point for your next purchase.

Renting a backhoe is another great option to complete your project, especially if it is only needed for a short time. Rental costs will fluctuate and can be based on things like location, how many days you are renting it, attachments you are also renting, etc.

4. What to Look for When Buying a Used Backhoe.

These 5 tips can help determine the value of a used backhoe.

  • Play or Movement
  • Cracks, Bends, or Dents
  • Leaks
  • Inaccurate or Broken Hours Meter
  • Worn Cable and Welds

When looking to buy a used loader backhoe you should always check the brake pedals and seat to compare the wear to the odometer, Engine for leaks, and the Belts and Tires for wear. There are several Hydraulic Cylinders on a Loader Backhoe. Make sure to check each one. Look at the seals for leaks and test the play in the pins and bushings. Tie rod ends and steering cylinders also need to be checked before considering the purchase. The cosmetics of the machine can give you insight of how well the machine has been maintained as well as how rough the previous user was on the machine. Look for low hours, one owner, great shape and a great price!

Why Choose VeriTread?

wheel loader on trailer logo
Once you’ve purchased your backhoe look to us for all of your transportation needs. VeriTread is your go to solution for hauling a backhoe loader. We can have your backhoe delivered to any destination in North America in a safe and timely manner. We are experts with connecting you with a transport provider that can handle all the paperwork, select the right trailer and driver, and chart the most efficient route.

VeriTread moves thousands of machines every year and can quickly generate a reliable estimate on the go. Our extensive specs and dimensions database of 60,000+ items, ensures you spend less time researching and more time putting your equipment to work. The VeriTread Shipper quote process is the simplest way to receive competitive quotes from vetted transport providers. Follow these easy steps and you will receive a quote in under one minute:

  • Select Ready To Ship from the Freight Options Page
  • Enter a Manufacturer & Model
  • Verify or Edit Your Machine Dimensions
  • Enter Pickup & Drop Off Locations
  • Your Quote is Ready!

We believe our suite of innovative decision tools empower our customer to make smarter and more informed transportation decisions, reducing overall uncertainty, and saving you time and money. If you have questions contact us at (800) 880-0468 or (863) 226-0903 and let our team of experts help you with your transport needs.