How to navigate the used crane market

27 June 2023

When asked to express an opinion regarding the current state of the used crane equipment market – the answer is a single word: “depleted.” Right now, there is extremely high demand and a corresponding low supply with respect to many types of construction equipment, and this is especially true for cranes. The current demand for cranes and other construction equipment is being driven, in part, by increased infrastructure spending in the United States and supply chain disruptions that have made lead times for the delivery of new cranes significantly longer.

For a number of reasons, demand exceeds supply in terms of the crane market, which is why used cranes are so hot.

In addition to increased demand for new cranes, many fleet owners are not selling off used equipment as quickly as they have in the past, as their fleets are being fully utilized. Full utilization, together with other factors, has caused the used equipment market to be restricted and tight. People looking for cranes of all types are walking into a perfect storm.

The cranes that are in the highest demand right now are 300-ton class crawler cranes, 150 to 400-ton all-terrain cranes, and boom trucks of all capacities. Prices on used cranes across all categories and capacities have been holding steady. For context, cranes normally depreciate at a rate of five to six percent annually. Over the last two years, however, equipment has been holding its value as under current market conditions, the machine is worth more to the end user, and/or not as easily replaceable. Anyone that has looked at the market for used cars has experienced the same market forces at work with low supply leading to higher demand – and prices – for used vehicles.

There also appears to be an increase in crane manufacturer activity in the used crane space by, for example, offering to take trade-ins to incentivize the purchase of new cranes. This makes economic sense considering the current high demand for machinery, and the ability to readily recoup this cost through the sale of the crane taken on a trade-in. Some OEMs are purchasing a used crane, performing a factory refurbishment, and ultimately selling it through their dealer network, or offering to perform a factory refurbishment for the owner.

There is also a significant demand for cranes with Tier 3 engines, particularly in the international market – these are cranes produced prior to 2012 that do not require Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) or diesel particulate filters. While these cranes can still be used in most parts of the United States, many companies are moving to the newer Tier 4 or 5 engines.

In short, my observations of the market lead me to conclude that (1) if you have cranes that do not meet your needs, now is a good time to sell, and (2) if you need a crane immediately for pending projects, the used equipment market is a great option. I will add that it helps to be flexible – be open to similar cranes with the capabilities you need in older, well-maintained equipment from a reputable fleet owner.

Finding the right crane

Regardless of where you buy your used cranes, any buyer should take steps to make sure they are getting the best value. Some serious considerations should be:

Know the seller: If you don’t get a “comfortable” feeling from the selling party, you should be wary. I would also perform heightened due diligence if buying equipment that is being liquidated as part of a forced liquidation sale because such equipment may not have been subject to industry inspection protocols leading up to such liquidation. Related to the above, always check the crane’s ownership history. Take the time to check sales documents to ensure that the selling party is the rightful, legal owner of the equipment.

Insist on an inspection: You should be able to see and inspect the equipment you are considering. This includes a full function test.

Service history: Companies should preserve service history on cranes. Such recorded service history ensures that maintenance and repairs were done as required. If the maintenance has not been kept up with, there may be unseen wear and tear on the engine or hydraulics of the crane.

Operating history: Ask what kind of work in which the crane was involved. Continuous and heavy workloads can create more wear and tear than lighter, less frequent use.

Ownership history: What type of companies or individuals have owned the crane? Companies that own a fleet may have more resources to keep their used equipment maintained.

Accident history: Has the crane ever been involved in an accident or flood? These things can leave unseen damage that may require extensive repairs or shorten the service life of a crane.

At Maxim Crane Works, we are currently refreshing our fleet and adding new equipment to support our customers in the industries and geographies they serve. This ongoing initiative to buy new cranes and support equipment allows the company to make quality used cranes and support equipment available to buyers. This is accomplished through multiple disposition channels to include direct sales, dealers/brokers, trade-in and auction venues.

Maxim offers several options to purchase equipment, including direct sales and online auctions. Buyers interested in the available equipment can visit Maxim Marketplace (, the company’s digital used equipment platform to browse by crane type, location, model year, capacity, etc. There are more than 450 cranes from the Maxim fleet available for sale.

Alternatively, buyers can browse and bid on used equipment using the Maxim Marketplace Auction platform. In partnership with Krank (, Maxim has implemented a secure process by which buyers can bid directly on our equipment in a private environment. During the bidding process, buyers can set a price limit using an auto bid feature. Once registered with the site, buyers will also learn about similar pieces of equipment up for auction.

There is, of course, no crystal ball to show us when the supply of new cranes will return to the previous normal. Keep in mind that cranes have a true global market, and some crane manufacturers in Europe depend on steel produced in Ukraine. That supply is limited now because of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia; thus, manufacturing capacity is not the issue. Rather, cranes simply cannot be manufactured without the required steel. If the point is reached where supply catches up to demand and the market stabilizes, I expect to see a different used crane market altogether.


Maxim Fleet Sales Director David Tobón has more than 25 years of experience in the crane business, including leadership roles in operations and sales both domestically and internationally. He currently leads Maxim’s used equipment sales team.


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