May 25, 2023

Inflated used asking prices for wheel loaders

It seemed appropriate to follow up on the previous coverage of large horsepower loader tractors with a look at their big brother alternative: wheel loaders. The initial investigation into price trends on late-model loaders quickly established that they share a common characteristic with tractor loaders beyond both being loaders.

As is the case with ag equipment, the lack of manufacturing components and supplies has hampered the production of new construction equipment such as wheel loaders, which has led to buyers readily gobbling up late-model used loaders. That has led to inflated used asking prices or final bids that are sometimes double or triple, what they were three to four years ago.

A great example of this is a 2018 Deere Model 544K showing 1,312 hours and equipped with a 105-inch bucket that sold at a recent Steffes Group auction. The final bid for this wheel loader was $141,000.

That final bid was easily 30% to 40% higher than wheel loader bids experienced just a year ago. This inflationary spiral is repeatedly witnessed in the asking values of similar-size 2018 wheel loaders featured in the Pocket Guide. Note the Deere 644Ks listed there and their $114,900 to $324,995 asking price spread. The recent demand for new homes during the COVID-19 crisis helped fuel this price spiral.

The good news is the industry is beginning to see the prices for late-model used construction iron soften.

If you are in the market for a wheel loader and haven't bought a used one before, be ready for some hour shock. Unlike farm tractors, construction gear (skid steers, telehandlers, and wheel loaders in particular) is in almost constant use during the year. After settling on the general size loader you want, pay close attention to engine hours when shopping. It is not unusual, for example, to have a five-year-old loader that has racked up 10,000 to 12,000 hours.