Producers looking to get the most out of their equipment at trade-in time can often be rewarded by paying attention to regular maintenance and equipment upkeep.

“The level of care in equipment can have a huge payback,” says Rick Vacha, territory manager, agricultural division, for Richie Brothers Auctioneers. “You can tell machines that have been taken care of, and the market is willing to pay more for those machines.”

It’s difficult to pin down the exact payback for maintenance, because the resale market can vary depending on the time of year, how much used equipment is on the market, or area of the country.

“The older the machine, the more fluctuation in price,” Vacha says. For instance, the value of a 1995 tractor can vary as much as 50 percent, while the value of a late-model piece of equipment might only vary a few percentage points. And that variation in price comes down to how well that equipment has been taken care of by the owner, something that shows up in both the outside appearance and the internal workings of the machinery.

Vacha offers some sage advice on what you can do to help ensure you get the highest value from your equipment at trade-in time.

  • Keep it clean. Buyers in the used equipment market are looking for equipment that looks new. And that means an outside that’s been washed regularly. “A bright paint job makes a huge first impression,” Vacha says. “Spending time waxing equipment every other year can mean a better appearance when it’s time to trade.” It also means daily or weekly cleaning to keep up the appearance. “And the older the equipment, the more critical the appearance can influence trade-in value,” Vacha says.
  • Keep good records. You can squeeze out more value if you can document every oil change in a log book. “Producers usually do a good job of keeping up with regular maintenance schedules,” Vacha says. “But when it comes to trade in time, if you can produce a detailed log of everything you’ve done to a particular piece of equipment, those records can bring a premium.”
  • Store it right. Water in the grain tank? Leaving a planter covered in mud for the summer? Storing equipment outside? Sometimes, storing equipment in less-than-optimal conditions is unavoidable. But to get the best price at resale, Vacha says people will pay more if equipment shows that care was given throughout the year. “Equipment put up and stored inside will usually get more than equipment stored outside,” Vacha says. “Bright paint can’t be faked.”
  • Maintain it right. Ensure oil changes are done at recommended intervals; belts and hoses are replaced as needed; tires are in good condition; and filters are changed. “And if something needs attention, make sure the repairs are complete and done right,” Vacha says. “Temporary repairs show up at trade-in time, and can immediately reduce the price you get.”

It’s no guarantee that following these recommendations will bring the highest resale value, but Vacha says keeping equipment looking like new, and running like new, can help ensure you are in the best position to capture the best resale value possible.