Used Power Tools – Should You Buy It?

Used Power Tools - Should You Buy It?

You need to buy a new power tool but it’s expensive, so you find one that’s second-hand.

If you’ve never purchased a used power tool before, it’s important to ensure that you don’t buy a dud.

Does the brand matter?

The brand of the power tool is one of the most important factors to look out for because you want to be sure that your power tool will be durable and be able to handle the hard work it’s already done while still giving you a long time of use.

If you’ve seen a used power tool you’d like to buy, make sure you do the right research so that you make a valuable purchase.

Here’s what you should look out for before purchasing used power tools.

Who’s Manufactured It? 

Companies Logo

We’ve already mentioned that you should look for big names in power tool manufacturers so that you can ensure your power tool will last a long time.

But what about entry-level power tools? Are they worth purchasing second-hand?

You could find a quality purchase in such tools, but if you’re going to go this route always make sure the tools come in their original boxes because otherwise they might already have been used too much.

By the time you want to get a decent lifespan out of them, they won’t be able to have the power to do the work you need from them.

If the tools are store-brand ones from discount stores, then you should never purchase them used because they’ll probably be at the end of their capacity, as DIY Network reports.

These tools tend to be of less quality than branded ones and they’re best for beginners, not people who need to use them intensively.

If you’re going to buy such tools second-hand, then it’s better to purchase them brand new because they don’t cost that much money so you might as well get a tool that’s straight out of the box.

Stick to trustworthy names when it comes to power tools, such as Bosch, Makita, DeWalt, Hitachi, Delta, and Milwaukee.

DIY power tool brands that are renowned in the industry include Craftsman, Kobalt, Ryobi, and Black + Decker, to mention a few.

Used Power Tool Inspection: How To Do It

DeWalt Angle Grinder

So, you’ve found someone who can sell you a power tool for a decent price and it’s said to be in good condition, but look beyond the brand.

You should be able to conduct your own inspection to find out if the tool is in good condition. What should you look for when studying a tool?

  • First things first, always make sure that the tool can be plugged in and switched on. You should use it for a few minutes so that you can inspect it properly.
  • Look at the power cord to ensure there aren’t any flaws on it, such as a dent in the cord. It also shouldn’t have cracks or tears in it, and you should never be able to see any wires. The power cord must be firmly attached to the power tool.
  • Look at the plug’s prongs. They shouldn’t be loose or very worn, as that could mean that the tool’s suffered strain.
  • Check the air vent to be sure there’s no dirt that’s accumulated in this area as that can point to a previous owner who didn’t maintain and clean the tool well. Also check that there aren’t any burn marks on the air vent as that could point to an electrical problem with the tool.
  • Listen to the tool when it works. You want to ensure that it doesn’t make any noises that just don’t sound right, like sounds that it’s struggling or slipping. It should sound powerful but smooth.
  • Check how the tool feels. When you hold the tool while it’s on, check that it doesn’t make any jerky movements or make you feel like you wouldn’t be able to use it comfortably.
  • Look out for bad smells. If the power tool emits a burning smell when it’s used, that’s a bad sign that it’s on its way out.
  • Check its screws. Are all the power tool’s screws still present, or are some missing? If the latter’s the case, then that means someone had to open up the tool at some point because it wasn’t working.
  • Make sure the safety equipment, such as the blade guard, is still on the power tool and looks like it’s intact.
  • Don’t forget to inspect the owner! Speaking to the previous owner of the power tools you’re interested in purchasing can be very valuable. You might just get the sense that something is “off,” which will alert you to stay away. You can also get important information from the owner, such as when it comes to how old the power tool is and how well it works. An owner who’s vague about the tool should be another red flag that you could be setting yourself up to buy a dud.

What about cordless tools?

Bosch Cordless Drill

You might be able to check that they switch on and work, but it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re getting.

They can also be quite expensive, mainly due to the fact that they need to run on costly batteries.

How can you be sure that the battery is in good condition?

You can’t.

A good tip is to be extra careful when purchasing a cordless power tool, so follow this rule: you should never buy a cordless tool that’s older than one or two years.

How Much You Should Pay For A Used Power Tool

Once you’re satisfied with the condition of the used power tool, you should focus on the price.

Are you getting ripped off?

While it’s always a good idea to look for power tools online to find out what new ones are selling for, there’s also a general rule you can follow.

Tools that are in near-perfect condition will sell for almost the same amount as their original price, while tools that are in good condition will sell for about 80 percent of their cost, and tools in mediocre condition will sell for about 50 to 70 percent of their original price.

If the tool is in lousy condition, it will sell for much less than its initial price, but you wouldn’t want such a tool anyway because it’s likely to be more trouble than it’s worth!

How You Can Refurbish Power Tools

If you have some old tools lying around in your garage, you might want to breathe new life into them.

Here’s how you can do that.

First, find out if you can get the parts you need to fix them.

If you need to repair your old power tools, you might need to purchase some new parts for them.

This can be a hassle if the power tool has been discontinued on the market or if it’s really old.

If your tool is relatively new and it’s a well-known brand, you’ll likely find the parts you need.

Unfortunately, if the power tool is from a smaller or unknown company, this could be more difficult, which is another good reason to stick with power tool brands that you trust.

However, always check online as sites such as Amazon might have the parts you need to buy.

It’s also important to bear in mind that what could happen is that a sparkling new part will not work with an older power tool, so you should always check that the part can be used on the model you have.

Then, follow this checklist so you bring an old and battered power tool to life in a safe way without missing any important elements.

Old Cordless Drill
  • Check the cords and plugs. Never use a power tool if these items are damaged as that’s a safety hazard. You can find replacements for these parts on websites such as Amazon.
  • Check the safety guards. Are they still on the tool? If they’re missing, then it’s best to call the manufacturer to find out if you can get a replacement for them.
  • Clean the blades. If the power tool was neglected and its blade is rusty or dirty, it will benefit from a good clean. Carefully remove the blade and clean it with a liquid rust remover. You can find products that don’t need you to scrub the rust off too much, such as Bull Frog Rust Remover Liquid Spray (available on Amazon).
  • Clean the brushes. Power tools will have brushes in the motor that experience wear and tear, and can compromise the tools’ quality. Therefore, you should replace them if they look worn. Check with your local electronics retailer if they have brushes in stock or conduct a search for them online.
  • Fix the trigger. This is a common part of a power tool that is susceptible to packing up, so you want to open the tool and check all the trigger contacts and springs. If a spring isn’t working correctly, this can prevent the catches from powering up the tool.
  • Spray dry lubricant on the tool. Avoid using grease on your tool as this can cause dirt to accumulate and hamper how it functions. A dry lubricant, such as WD-40 Specialist Dirt and Dust Resistant Spray, will not attract dirt while reducing wear and tear, so it’s worth purchasing. 

Useful Items For Refurbishing Your Old Power Tools

Pile of Q Tips

Maintaining your power tools extends their lifespan and saves you money.

If you’re restoring power tools you have at home, it will do you good to make sure you have some essential items at hand for the job and for maintaining them regularly.

Here’s a list of some items you should have.

  • Q-tips. These are excellent items to help you clean and even polish your power tools, especially when you can’t get into all those hard-to-reach spots.
  • Old toothbrushes. Small toothbrushes are another excellent item to help you get into small spaces to give your power tools a thorough clean.
  • Abrasive pads. These are a useful item for cleaning power tools, such as when it comes to eliminating debris, and they have a longer lifespan than sandpaper.
  • Air compressor. This is essential to help you remove dust from your power tools in an easier way. An air compressor will prevent dirt and dust from building up and causing problems in how your power tool functions.

Note: After cleaning your tools so they’re spick and span, dry them with a rag or old towel and then pack them away so they’re ready for their next use.

Related Questions

Where can you buy used power tools?

There are many places in which you can find used power tools to purchase.

These include garage sales, where you could find big-name brands of the power tools you love.

Also check out thrift stores, flea markets, and online ads.

How should you look after power tool batteries?

These tools usually have lithium ion batteries.

To look after them, prevent them from overheating.

Make sure you store batteries in cool areas.

You should also avoid using the batteries completely before charging them as this extends their lifespan.


When you need to use a specific power tool that you don’t have in your garage, you’ll know how frustrating it can be, especially if you have an important job to do around the house.

Buying power tools can be expensive, so you might consider purchasing a used one.

In this article we’ve shown you how to go about the process so you don’t buy a bad product.

But, you might not need to purchase a power tool.

If you have a power tool that’s undergone some wear and tear, you might be able to bring it back to life with our guide which will save you money.

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