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What Should You Look For in a Used Road Roller?

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If you are considering buying a used road roller, or road compactor, you will need to select from a range of options. There are several different types of road roller: single and double drum, vibratory rollers, sheepsfoot/padfoot and pneumatic rollers. 

Road rollers are typically used at the last stage of road construction to compact and level asphalt, earth, gravel or clay, and the type of material to be compacted determines the type of roller. Because of these rollers’ specific and limited use throughout a road construction project, they can come up on the second hand market with relatively little wear and tear. This can make them a good value choice for the savvy buyer who wants to keep construction costs down. 

This article looks at a selection of road rollers that are available in the second hand market, and offers some tips on how to improve your chances of a good value purchase. 

Table of Contents
The used road roller market
What to look for in a used road roller
The choices available for used road rollers
Final thoughts

The used road roller market

The global construction market is in a growth phase, coming out of a lengthy hiatus during the recent pandemic. The boom in infrastructure and construction projects, projected at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 4.7% through 2027, brings with it the need for construction equipment.

However, many construction companies have cost and cash flow pressures, and are hesitant to commit investment into new equipment, especially given a lingering uncertainty over project survival. It makes good financial sense to keep equipment costs down. Investment in equipment that has a limited use on a project, such as road rollers, needs careful consideration.

Therefore a wise choice is to look for good value used equipment, that lessens investment cost while also minimizing deprecation, and can also bring a good resale value later. The used construction equipment market is very healthy right now, showing a projected CAGR of about 5.8% from 2023 to 2028, which reflects the desire for companies to look at second hand options over new.

What to look for in a used road roller

men walking around a caterpillar road roller

Road rollers come in different types, with different rolling fittings, different sizes and weights. The purpose of a road roller is to compact and level the ground beneath it, so key factors are the width and weight of the roller, and how that is applied to the ground. Other than these aspects, there is very little complication with these machines, and as long as they are well maintained, there is no real reason why they can’t last for many years. This makes them a good second hand buy as well as a good on-sell after having finished their project use.

Buying a used road roller online does need a physical inspection to properly confirm the condition. Here are a few important areas to inspect:

Visual inspection

Experts suggest starting a visual inspection from the bottom of the road roller. First inspect the undercarriage, then inspect the frame, then all other external parts. Does the machine look well maintained and in good condition? If the machine is dirty, does it look like that dirt is hiding any rust or peeled paintwork? If the body looks resprayed, then this might indicate previous rust that has been covered up. Check the bodywork for any signs of welding, or added fishplates as these indicate previous structural damage.

Review the maintenance records

Maintenance records show how frequently the road roller was serviced, when oils and filters were changed, and how regularly. Check this against the manufacturer’s specifications. Check if there are any records of major parts replacements. If so, were quality parts used? When the maintenance and repair details are known, this then helps inspect the machine with a keener eye. 

Inspect the engine

Run the engine and check for signs of leaks or knocking from the engine. Is there any white or black smoke from the exhaust which could indicate fuel burning issues? If the engine is Euro 5 or Euro 6 certified, have the engine emissions tested to check that the exhaust is still within range. Check oil and air filter conditions and compare them to the maintenance record. If the engine is an older air-cooled one, bear in mind that these need regular servicing, and the air filter will need regular replacement, particularly in a dusty environment. If the engine is water-cooled, check for any leaks that will affect water circulation.

Inspect the operator’s cab

Although a dirty, dusty and worn cab doesn’t affect the machine functionality, it does give an indication of how well the machine has been treated. A worn seat can easily be replaced, and scratched windows can be changed. More importantly, do the pedals, instruments and gauges work? Depending on the type of road roller, there are other specifics to check. For a vibratory road roller, check that the vibratory modes are working by operating the machine. Are there high frequency, or dual amplitude settings, and if so are they functioning? Check the articulation joints by driving the roller.

Inspect the hydraulics

Check the hydraulic cylinders for damage. Check that all hoses have a tight seal and there are no signs of any leaks. Check the maintenance record for how frequently the hydraulic fluid is topped up. Regular top ups can indicate a leak.

Inspect the tires and chassis

For two-wheeled single drum rollers and pneumatic rollers, check the rear tire condition for tread wear or cracks. Check the roller specifications and ensure that the right tires are fitted. Check that the wheel rims and axles are in good condition. For pneumatic rollers, check the front roller tires for wear and pressure as well as for alignment.

Inspect the drum, on single and double drum rollers

On single and double drum rollers, it is important to ensure that each drum is in good condition. If the drum is damaged this will impact the compacting ability and if seriously damaged will be a costly replacement. The drums should be smooth, but hard rocks and other objects can dent, pit and scar the drum. The surface needs to be smooth to impart an even finish to the road. Check that the drum thickness is not overly thinned by wear. For padfoot/sheepsfoot drums, the feet should not be dented or worn down. Replacements will be costly.

Inspect the articulated joints

The articulated joints between the front and rear chassis needs to be in good condition, as it is important to be able to maneuver the roller. Drive the roller backwards and forwards and check that it moves correctly. Check the joints, lubrication and grease, bushings and pins. This would be an expensive replacement if there are big problems.

The choices available for used road rollers

For the potential buyer, there is quite a choice available in the second hand roller market. Some types appear to be more prevalent than others as used machines. Single drum rollers are common and plentiful, with a range of manufacturers, known and lesser known brands. Double drum rollers seem to be a little less numerous as used machines, but many choices for new ones. Second hand pneumatic rollers and padfoot rollers are limited to a few brands. Here is a selection of the types, brands and prices available in the online market:

Single drum road rollers

DYNAPAC Vibtratory Roller CA30DDYNAPAC Vibtratory Roller CA30D
Details provided:
Year: 2018
Hours: 2,000+
Price: US$ 13,000
XCMG XMR60 Vibratory RollerXCMG XMR60 Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2022
Hours: 167
Price: US$ 7,500
Cat 583C Vibratory RollerCat 583C Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2013
Hours: 2,000+
Price: US$ 18,000
Ingersollrand SD100D Vibratory RollerIngersollrand SD100D Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2021
Hours: <2,000
Price: US$ 15,000

Double drum road rollers

Hamm HD128 Double Drum Vibratory RollerHamm HD128 Double Drum Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2013
Price: US$ 15,000
China Brand Double Drum Vibratory RollerChina Brand Double Drum Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2020
Hours: <600
Price: US$ 2,000
XCMG XMR303 Double Drum Vibratory RollerXCMG XMR303 Double Drum Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2018
Hours: 780
Price: US$ 16,000
China Brand Double Drum Vibratory RollerChina Brand Double Drum Vibratory Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2018
Hours: 8,000+
Price: US$ 13,000

Pneumatic rollers

China Brand XP163 Pneumatic RollerChina Brand XP163 Pneumatic Roller
Details provided:
Year: 2020
Price: US$ 33,000
BOMAG xp301 pneumatic rollerBOMAG xp301 pneumatic roller
Details provided:
Year: 2010
Hours: 4,000+
Price: US$ 16,300
China Brand Pneumatic RollerChina Brand Pneumatic Roller
Details provided:
Year: unspecified
Price: US$ 25,000

Padfoot/Sheepsfoot rollers

Dynapac CA25PD padfoot rollerDynapac CA25PD padfoot roller
Details provided:
Year: 2010
Hours: 4,000+
Price: US$ 13,000
Dynapac CA602PD padfoot rollerDynapac CA602PD padfoot roller
Details provided:
Year: 2016
Hours: 2,000+
Price: US$ 12,000
Bomag BW217D-2 padfoot rollerBomag BW217D-2 padfoot roller
Details provided:
Year: 2016
Hours: 2,000+
Price: US$ 16,000

This selection of road rollers is not intended to be comprehensive and gives examples of the range of machines available. There are many other roller models available, including towed rollers, mini-rollers, hand rollers, and remote controlled trench rollers. However, as these are often quite low-priced models, there tends to be less choice in the second hand market.

Final thoughts

Buying a used road roller rather than a new one makes economic sense given the high investment cost for a new machine, and considering their limited project use. Given the various different types of road roller, a buyer would first need to ensure that they are clear on which type they need. Whatever the choice, buying online will require a physical inspection at some point before confirming the purchase.

The prudent buyer will do due diligence by checking all available maintenance records in advance, and will conduct a thorough physical inspection as soon as practical. The buyer will have more confidence if the supplier can offer warranty, return or replacement if problems are found. For more details on the range of choices of used road rollers available, check out the Alibaba.com showroom.

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