Not a lot of Tier 4 units have come to the market yet because they are still in the typical 3- to 4-year ownership sweet spot. That being said, there also hasn’t been much clamoring from buyers looking for them.
Contractors are keeping their pre-Tier 4 units longer in part because of the feedback they are getting from what AMECO’s Rich Mullins calls the ”boots on the ground guys.”
“Company owners are getting pushback from their operators who don’t like what they perceive as the Tier 4 performance,” Mullins says. “Operators have been trained that if they see an alert or hear an alarm, they should shut the machine down. Understanding that with the Tier 4s you want to run them hard and run them hot so that the machine keeps burning out the emissions is still being learned.”
Another issue is that buyers are hearing horror stories from the trucking industry, according to Paul Hendrix. “In large part, we haven’t had the high number of problems seen in the trucking business, but because the Tier 4 engines don’t have much hands-on history, it isn’t seen as a proven technology.”
Heath Watton, Southeastern Equipment, says some buyers will pay more for a Tier 3 machine, put some reconditioning into it, and feel they have come out better than a newer machine. Iron Planet reports that one customer felt so strongly about avoiding Tier 4s he asked his dealer to refurbish his old pre-Tier 4 skid steer.
There is comfort in the well known. “We know the Cat or Deere or Volvo engines’ track record, and we know we can get maybe up to 13,000 hours from them,” Hendrix says. “It’s more a fear of the unknown. Buyers aren’t going to spend more money for a Tier 4 without that history. But, we’ll work through it.”