Bulldozers, those massive machines that are the ultimate desire of every toddler, are not often top of mind for us adults. If you’ve recently realized that you’re in need of one, either for a professional construction project or a more entertaining reason, it’s likely that you’re feeling unsure of how to make your selection, what costs you should be aware of, and what your financing options are.
We spoke to the team at Currency, the leading provider of equipment financing for businesses, decided to put together this simple guide to help you pick the perfect piece of machinery for the job and your business:
What Is A Bulldozer?
The first thing you should know is what exactly a bulldozer is, as the term is sometimes used to refer to excavators, loaders or other heavy machinery that performs similar tasks, but is not identical in function.
A bulldozer is a tractor-type heavy vehicle with a large metal plate. It’s primarily used to push large quantities of heavy materials, and usually is also equipped with a claw or ripper device on the opposite side of the vehicle that is used to loosen dense material.
What Types Of Bulldozers Are There, And What Are They For?
There are two main types of bulldozers, and the difference comes down to how they move around.
The crawler bulldozer is a continuous tracked tractor – which means it has tank treads instead of conventional wheels. This means it has incredible ground gripping power, which is useful if you’re moving very heavy material over uneven surfaces. This type of bulldozer is most commonly used for agriculture, mining and large-scale landscaping.
The wheeled bulldozer is exactly what it sounds like, and has four wheels instead of tank tracks. It doesn’t have as much grip or pushing power as a crawler would (though it’s still a considerable force to be reckoned with), but it is much more maneuverable and easy to use. This option is the one most commonly used in construction of urban areas, stadiums, and theme parks.
What Criteria Are Bulldozers Evaluated With?
Bulldozers vary in size, and are generally classed both by their weight – small, medium and large – and the size and type of their blade and ripper, as these parts determine what types of jobs can be completed by the machine.
Small bulldozers are generally fast, easily maneuverable, are usually able to be loaded onto a flatbed fairly easily and transported, and have controls accurate enough to create a finished look. They’re most often used for residential projects and clearing and grading roads.
Medium bulldozers are perfect for many mining and construction jobs, and are the most widely used. They vary in horsepower from 100-310, and are slightly less maneuverable than the small size, but still very nimble.
Large bulldozers are generally over 310 horsepower, and are mostly used for large project in which incredibly heavy material must be broken up and moved.
The blades for bulldozers come in three major varieties, which each have their own uses.
Universal, or U Blades, are the curved, winged shovels that are most commonly associated with the iconic bulldozer image. The panels keep the material in one place.
Straight, or S blades are shorter and flat, and have no wings. These are used primarily for fine grading.
Combo blades, also known as S-U blades, are slightly curved and have small wings. This type of blade is best for moving large chunks of material, such as stones.
There are three major manufacturers to be aware of, and all are a good choice, especially for a first time purchase.
The largest manufacturer of bulldozers – and heavy equipment in general – is Caterpillar, commonly referred to as just Cat. Their wide selection appeals to many, and if you’re looking for a specific customization or ability, they’re the most likely to manufacture it. They’re also based in the US.
Close behind them is Komatsu, which is a Japanese company that is most known for their heavier bulldozers, but in recent years has been aggressively buying smaller companies in an attempt to rise to the top of the industry. They’re the best choice for a brand committed to sustainability, as they offer several green options.
John Deere leads the way for users who are looking for a little bit more automation, as they’re characterized by automatic load sensing, dynamic braking, hydrostatics and power management. They specialize in smaller machines, for which they’re well recognized as the leader.
Should You Buy Used Or New?
When you’re picking out a bulldozer, it’s important to consider if you’re looking for a used or new model. This comes down to more than just price – you must ask how useful any of the newer tools will help your business, if you need any customizations, and what kind of a warranty you’d like to take out on your new machine.
A new machine will obviously have the very latest in technology, and can be customized to meet your needs. This is especially important if you’re working in extreme temperatures, remote locations or with unique materials. Speak with manufacturers to see what they can do to make your job easier.
It may also be difficult to find used bulldozers with a warrantee, as they’re most commonly available for only a year after purchase, with the option to extend that warranty to 10,000 hours of work. This protects you from damage while traveling and defects, as well as catastrophic events. However, given the price of a new bulldozer, a warranty may simply not be worth it.
How Expensive Are Bulldozers?
As bulldozers are generally the largest piece of equipment you’ll buy, and they generally last for decades, it should be no surprise that they’re also likely the most expensive machine you’ll buy for your business.
To give you an idea of what kind of investment you’re looking at, check out this chart from Purchasing.com:
|Size||Horsepower||Operating Weight||Estimated Cost|
|Small||80 hp||17,500 lbs.||$64,000 – $90,000|
|Small||92 hp||18,000 lbs.||$83,000 – $125,000|
|Medium||130 hp||29,300 lbs.||$160,000 – $295,000|
|Medium||205 hp||46,160 lbs.||$170,000 – $340,000|
|Large||600 hp||155,000 lbs.||$400,000 – $1,200,000|
|Large||850 hp||230,000 lbs.||$600,000 – $1,300,000|
What Are Your Financing Options?
If the numbers above seemed a bit daunting, don’t worry. While it’s wonderful if you can pay for your equipment in cash, it’s by no means required or even expected.
The best option for most business owners is to take out an equipment financing loan. The first thought you may have is that you must go to a bank to do so – and wait the days or weeks it can take to get approval, which you may not have to spare. However, there are easier ways!
Many sellers and dealers are now offering options like Currency, which offers instant approval. While the application experience is very similar to applying for a store credit card, there is a much higher chance of approval, a much lower interest rate, and you’ll be able to form a real relationship with your lender, allowing you to use them again and again as your business grows.
Have you set your sights on a bulldozer from a dealer or manufacturer that doesn’t have instant approval financing? Ask them about Currency, and get your project moving!