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Quick Guide to Mini Excavators


Mini excavators are power-driven vehicles used in construction and other industries to dig trenches, holes, and foundations. They’re also used to move or carry heavy materials, and to carry out demolition activities. As such, excavators are considered “must-haves” for any construction-related business.

 Excavators, which are often used in conjunction with bulldozers and loaders, have many additional functions, including but not limited to:


  • River dredging
  • Mining
  • Forestry work
  • Driving piles
  • Material handling
  • Utility work, and
  • Brush cutting


Here, we will be discussing mini-excavators, which typically weigh between two and six tons, and are also known as compact excavators. Before purchasing a mini-excavator for your business, there are a number of factors to consider, based on the type of product or service you provide and the size you require. Price, quality, and durability are several keys to note so that your company can purchase the best product at the best price.

Keep in mind when looking to save expenses that this machinery uses less fuel than full-size excavators and can be hauled in lighter, more fuel-efficient trucks to keep hourly costs lower.


Components of a Mini-Excavator

· Steel or rubber tracks that move the excavator around the work site.


· A diesel engine, which provides propulsion power for the tracks and which powers the hydraulic systems responsible for digging.


· The bucket attachment—a scoop with teeth for digging into dirt or gravel.


· A boom, the arm that holds the attachment and which provides the digging power.


· A cab, where the operator sits, and which can pivot 360 degrees on top of the tracks.


Important Questions to Ask

· What is the best machine for my company? Mini-excavators come in a number of sizes, so determine the scope of your project and what will work best for you.


· How deep do I need to dig? The most popular mini-excavators have dig depths around ten feet.


· How wide a trench do I want to dig? Bucket sizes can range from 9 to 36 inches; however, the most popular are the 24-inch buckets, due to their application versatility.


· Can I try out the machinery? You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it, so the same applies here. Get the feel of a mini-excavator with an experienced individual on hand should you have any questions. Go through the operator’s manual and see if you have any questions before buying or renting the equipment.


Lease? Buy New? Buy Used?

 Construction businesses—and related fields—require a significant capital investment in equipment. Although the profits are great, you’ll want to make sure they justify the enormous expense involved in purchasing.

 There are several methods you can use to acquire a mini-excavator:

· Buy new

· Rent or lease

· Buy used equipment from local dealers, or

· Buy used equipment online—where you can probably get the best deals—and have the excavator delivered to your business


If you rent, keep in mind that you are not only renting the machine, but being charged for delivery, pickup, fuel costs, and the cost to insure. While you will spend more to buy, the equipment is then your property and your long-run costs are likely to decrease since you won’t be regularly renting. If renting, see what the warranty terms are. 

Due to economic concerns, many construction companies (and related industries) are buying used excavators, which are often priced at half the cost of brand new ones. While leasing or renting may seem like a viable alternative, the total costs will have to be covered by the price your client will eventually pay in order for you to make a profit.

So, a used mini-excavator can save you a huge amount of money if you find one that fits your needs and is in good condition. Before purchasing, however, in addition to answering the questions mentioned above, you’ll want to look at the overall visual condition of the machinery to make sure it is soot- and leak-free, and also be sure that the welds are originals—from the factory, if possible.

In addition, you should examine the quality of the stick and boom; and check the rollers, sprockets, undercarriage, and tracks for wear and tear. You might also wish to consult with a mechanic who services mini-excavators before purchasing one to make sure you’re not getting a lemon.

All in all, you can certainly purchase new construction equipment if you can afford it, but you’ll probably come to realize that buying a used excavator can be the most cost-effective solution for your business.


Choosing a Vendor

Finding a reputable seller or dealer is crucial. Check the maintenance records of the mini-excavator, see if an extended-service warranty is offered, and also look into the availability of spare parts. Inspect the vendor’s repair shop and also talk to their mechanics to see how well run the operation is. It’s extremely important to find a vendor you can trust. Since you might wish to expand your equipment holdings in the future, forming a solid working relationship can result in substantial savings in the future.

Depending on how much extra you wish to pay, you might also think about buying a preventive-maintenance plan. If you do decide to purchase such a plan, be clear on the exact type of service the dealer will provide.

Following are some questions you should ask when comparing mini-excavator vendors:

· How long have you been in business?

· Is there a guaranteed response time if there’s a breakdown on a job site?

· How many mechanics do you have on staff, and what is the nature of their training and experience?

· Will you come to our site if the machine breaks down or pick it up if it needs repairs?

· What is your policy on providing loaners and replacing parts?


And, naturally, you should get feedback and recommendations from other companies who’ve purchased mini-excavators. Check with businesses such as yours and try to get a sense of a vendor’s overall reputation and commitment to quality service.

Purchasing a mini-excavator—whether used or new—can represent a major investment for your company, so take the time and effort to compare vendors in order to make an informed decision.

Find mini-excavator vendors in your state by searching our Local State Directory.