Tips for Buying Used Instruments

used-instruments-300x300If you need to buy analytical equipment on a limited budget, buying it used could be the answer. Each year, state and federally funded research facilities release good instrumentation into the secondhand market and buy new instruments to preserve their funding. To ensure that what sounds like a good deal is one, observing some time-tested tips for buying used instrumentation is crucial. Below are five tips for purchasing quality used analytical instruments.

Only Buy from a Professional Seller

In pursuit of the best price, some companies shop for instruments on auction websites and at company liquidation sales. The problem? In some cases, the seller can’t guarantee that an instrument is in perfect working order. On the contrary, you are the one who is expected to be the expert. If you are not trained to assess the quality of the instrument that you need, buy it from a seller who is.

Examine an Instruments Service Record

When shopping for instruments that require maintenance, request a copy of their logged service record. Like other types of equipment, analytical equipment that has a spotty or missing service record could lead to unexpected repair issues that halt your work process. Due to its soft environment, analytical equipment seldom displays signs of poor maintenance on its exterior, hence the need to carefully examine its service record.

Ask for the Right References

If you intend to buy an organic elemental analyzer (OEA), request references to customers who purchased the same equipment, and request at least six of them. By speaking with customers who a seller doesn’t normally refer to, you may hear a different opinion of a seller’s customer service quality than when you speak with its normal references. If all references respond positively, you can feel that much more secure in your purchase.

Check the Seller’s Business Record

Most companies know to do it, but some companies do not, and that is to check a seller’s record at the Better Business Bureau (BBB). In particular, check to see if the company resolves customer complaints promptly. If it has no complaints or resolves complaints right away, you can feel confident about its dedication to customer service.

Inspect an Instrument Firsthand

If you shop for high-priced instrumentation online, inspect it in person before you buy it. Alternatively, if you can’t travel to the seller’s location, have a third party perform the inspection for you. As some buyers find out the hard way, Internet photos can conceal signs of wornness, breakage, warping, etc. Because a used purchase is usually a final purchase, inspecting used instruments firsthand is ideal.


When you take the right steps, you can purchase quality analytical instruments used. Although most sellers of pre-owned equipment are professional and customer oriented, some are not. The steps above will help you avoid the latter as your search for the former. From public companies to private laboratories, various entities use pre-owned analytical equipment with success. To get your equipment pre-owned and save money, contact an appropriate equipment seller today.