By Rick Smith

Sometimes when a new paver is in the budget, new might not be the best option. While a new machine has many benefits such as warranty and depreciation, used machines carry a high return on investment. This month we will discuss the visual items that could help you avoid buying someone else’s headache.

Recently a contractor came to me and asked about buying a used paver. He operated a small family business mostly doing pavement maintenance. He would have a small paving job or two every week and did not own a paver and was subbing out that work. He wanted to get his own paver, but the cost of a new paver was prohibitive due to the small volume of work he had. His option was to purchase a used paver but wanted some help picking one out. Here are some of the items we covered that are visually accessible and can tell you a lot about the paver you are looking at.

Let’s start with the undercarriage. Look at the drive sprocket. Are the teeth rounded or are they sharp? Sharp sprocket teeth are a sure sign of worn out sprocket. How about the links on the grousers? Are they worn down from the drive sprocket? Now are you looking at steel grousers or poly pads on steel? What kind of shape are the poly pads in? Are they all torn up and missing pieces? While your inspecting the undercarriage can you see the drive motors? Can you see any leaking seals or remnants of such? Track rollers are also a sure sign of wear. Have they worn down enough that they are cutting into the pins of the track chain? All good points to consider.

Next let’s go under the hood and look at the power pack and hydraulics. Can you see any breaks in the wiring harness? Are there any sign of leaks on the engine pan or heads? How does the radiator look? Is there any sign of debris in the unit? Check the muffler for any corrosion. Look at the hydraulic pumps for signs of leaky seals. Make sure there are no frayed hoses and no leaky fittings.

Let’s go next to the screed. How do the screed plates look are the tail edges sharp? This is a telltale sign that more work is needed. Those plates need to be replaced. If the screed plates look bad, check out the augers. Are the edges sharp? It is hard to tell about the auger bearings without running the paver, but if the grease fittings are covered with asphalt, the bearings are probably shot. If you can start the paver, make sure the screed heats. If you can run the screed extensions out, grab the end gate and see if the extension will wobble up and down. If it does, you will need to repair it. Now look at the flight screws, are the threads worn? Are the bearings loose? If either of these conditions exist it, will cause the screed to undulate front and back while paving, causing ripples in the mat profile. Check the tow arms and make sure they are straight. Look at the tow point cylinder and make sure they are not leaking. Along with that, check the screed lift cylinders, screed extension cylinders and hopper cylinders. Inspect the catwalk.. If it is bent up, you will want to check the screed frame as the machine may have backed into a hard surface.

Now go to the hopper to look at the floorplate see if the chains have dug into the floor. Also, the conveyor drive sprockets should not be sharp. Do the bars look in good shape? Are the wings and flashing good? A quick eye test here can save thousands.

Now that you have completed you inspection. Is this the machine you want to purchase? If not, don’t fret. The used market is rich with pavers and other equipment, but beware, if the price seems too goo to be true, it just might be.

Rick Smith is a territory manager at ST Engineering LeeBoy, Inc.  You can contact him at