Which Used Excavators Are Best?

used construction machinery

When it comes to choosing used excavators for sale, you want to know which ones are best. 

There are many manufacturers on the market all making very good machinery. But what sets them apart from one another? Let’s find out. 

Excavator Manufacturers 

In the UK, the three main manufacturers in demand for making excavators are Caterpillar, JCB and Komatsu. 

Let’s take a look at these manufacturers in more detail:


American manufacturer Caterpillar was formed 1925 following the merger of Holt Manufacturing and C. L. Best Tractor Company.

The very first hydraulic excavator was produced by Caterpillar in 1972. The model was the 225 and it actually appeared on the market after many of Caterpillar’s competitors. Caterpillar put this down to a lengthy period of testing. 

Despite Caterpillar being late to the excavator party, they have taken the lead in becoming a well-known around the world excavator brand. Caterpillar featured as the most demanded excavators between January to May 2020 in 11 countries. 


Close rivals to Caterpillar, is UK brand JCB which stands for Joseph Cyril Bamford. JCB is most well known for their world-famous JCB 3CX backhoe loader, however they are still a popular choice when it comes to excavators. 

Mr Bamford founded Joseph Cyril Bamford Excavators Ltd in 1945. In 1965, JCB had produced the first ever 360-degree excavator. Just goes to show that JCB follows innovation more so than any other competitor. JCB is renowned for analysing the market, listening to customer feedback, carrying out research and going above and beyond. 


A brand leading the way when it comes to excellent quality, long lasting and well-made excavators is Japanese manufacturer Komatsu. 

The company formed in 1917, during World War 1 when mining equipment and machine tools were required. In 1968, Komatsu began manufacturing hydraulic excavators, and now Komatsu are leaders in the production of hybrid (part fuel and part electric) excavators, proving themselves to be adaptable, in particular to growing environmental concerns. 

Tracked excavators versus wheeled excavators 

Wheeled Excavators

Wheeled excavators are much more versatile than their tracked counterparts. For instance when used with various attachments, a multitude of uses can be obtained when using wheeled excavator machinery. Interestingly, when used with outriggers and dozer blades located on the ground, wheeled excavators can match the stability of tracked excavators, if not beat it. 

When working on the roads, it is much easier to use a wheeled excavator as opposed to tracked which have steel tracks or roadliner pads. Roadliner pads are an increased cost to consider, whereas tyres cost considerably less. In addition the brakes and tyres on wheeled excavators tend to last longer.

A wheeled excavator also incorporates a steering wheel, whereas a tracked excavator typically comes with pedals and levers. 

Tracked Excavators

In comparison, tracked excavators are able to dig much more aggressively compared to wheeled excavators. Tracked excavators also maintain a much better grip in wet material conditions such as boggy ground. Therefore for larger jobs whereby a considerable amount of earth requires moving, you are best off using a tracked excavator. 

Which used excavators are best?

As a UK seller of used excavators, we at International Plant Sales have to say that JCB as a British manufacturer of excavators is definitely an up there contender for us. Their 360-degree excavators are something that the construction industry around the world has taken notice of and competitors have even replicated in their own way.

JCB however does focus a lot of their attention on the JCB 3CX backhoe loader, and rightly so they are world famous for their backhoe. In March 2020, JCB rolled off the production line, their 750,000th Backhoe Loader. So when so much of their income is from Backhoe Loaders, of course more of their attention will go into this side of the business. For this reason, we place JCB second hand excavators in 2nd place. 

So for 1st place, drum roll please… Yes, you guessed it right. Komatsu is the manufacturer we have awarded the top position. Looking ahead of the times, Komatsu is focusing on excavators that are carbon neutral and better for the environment. 

If it were a contest between JCB and Komatsu for other types of construction machinery, then we would probably have to choose JCB. However when looking at manufacturers of excavators, Komatsu hands down is the winner. 

Buying an ex-fleet excavator

There are many used excavators on the market. However when buying in the UK, you are most likely to find JCB and Komatsu excavators. 

These machines are usually well serviced as the parts in the UK are easy enough to find, which makes them cheaper. Most fitters are also trained in carrying out any servicing, maintenance and repair works to these particular machines. This means when buying a second hand excavator, you are most likely to receive an excellent quality and better looked after machine. Meaning more value for your money. 

Buying a used excavator from International Plant Sales

International Plant Sales formed in 2014 has sold over 10,000 pieces of construction equipment to the UK and international market. Plant machinery comes from H.E. Services (Plant Hire) Ltd or Diggerland UK Adventure Theme Park. Meaning excellent quality and well looked after machines are available to purchase. The machines sold at International Plant Sales come with a full service, have had a full bodywork check and receive a full body work paint respray. Machinery is all mostly low hour and comes with a one month warranty. 


To view the Komatsu excavators available for sale, click here

We are more than happy to send over any additional photos and videos of our machines in operation. Should you wish to schedule an appointment to inspect the machine.

Contact us today via email or call us on: (+44) 1634 779123.

All information correct as of: 8th January 2021. 

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