The good news for people in the asphalt paving business is that most of the heavier used asphalt paving equipment can last almost forever if it is properly maintained. Most used paving equipment can basically be fixed and renewed for years of useful service.

  The interesting news is that it is imperative that any used paving equipment you consider must be safe for your workers and the environment. You might think a used asphalt paver’s performance is the first issue to consider, but in fact, safety is actually your primary concern.

  While a paver built in the 1970s may still pave, your question is whether an older paver has been retrofitted to minimize emissions – smoke, fumes, particulates, volatile organic compounds. Such standards have changed drastically since the 1970s.

  In fact, in 1997 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) strengthened the emissions standards for pavers manufactured after July 1, 1997, so this issue should only be of concern when considering the purchase of used paving equipment manufactured before this date.

  Once you have verified the safe operation of a used asphalt paver, then it’s time to turn to its performance issues.

  Ideally it takes a takes a team of three to examine a used asphalt paver for purchase – the person who’s going to operate it, the person who’s going to fix and maintain it and the person with the checkbook.

  Start with a walk-around, noting clues that might signal abuse. Is the instrument panel intact? Are seats torn? Is there excessive rusting? Are little pieces missing? These types of things may indicate rough treatment and/or poor maintenance.

  Another good clue is to check the oil. Is it clean, or how dirty is it? If you spot coolant on the dipstick, you’re looking at a unit with a blown head gasket – an expensive repair that should be acknowledged in the pricing.

  Look at the drive belts. Check the radiator and cooling system. Study the hoses for dryness or bulges. Pay attention where hoses hook up, look for splits or weakness at these points.

  Consider the drive system. Kick the tires or the tracks and note any replacement needs.

  Next, turn your attention to the hopper, as it is the rare used paving equipment that hasn’t been tapped, smacked or clobbered by the dump truck as it loads the asphalt into the hopper. Most importantly, make sure the hopper has not been knocked out of alignment with the rest of the machine. See if the hopper deck is still strong. One good way to check this is to tap carefully around on the deck with a hammer, listening for tinny sounds or brittle areas.

  Screed performance is vital to the productivity of any asphalt paver. A new screed is one-half inch thick. So, measure the screed at all four corners, front and rear. If you still have a quarter-inch of thickness, you have reasonable life left. But if the screed does not measure the same thickness on both sides, this sets off the alarm that the paver is out of alignment. The screed will be thinner on the front edge than the back, but if there is a large amount of difference, the previous operator was running heavy on the nose, and you’ll need to replace the plate to get decent results.

  Check the auger for bearing wear. Just grab it and see if the mounting is sturdy.  If there is play, that signals bearings need to be replaced. Examine the full length of the flight chain in the hopper’s floor.

  With the paver running, put it through all its functions, including burner controls. Listen for unusual noises and monitor the engine and the hydraulics for leaks.

  As always, when buying any used equipment, calculate the expenses you will incur to bring the machine up to your standards then do the math to calculate whether this paver meets your financial and performance needs for a time interval that makes sense to you.

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