5 Tips – Buying a Used Directional Drill

April 2019

Buying a pre-owned horizontal directional drill can be a great option, whether you’re looking to add to your fleet or purchase your very first drill. It can save you tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars but there is a caution.  As with all used equipment, it can be difficult knowing what you are getting when purchasing a pre-owned drill.  That’s why a good inspection is key.  Here are 5 things to inspect to help you make an informed decision.


Drill Pipe

Failure points on rod vary considerably so it’s best to consult someone with experience.  Most consumers will compare the original pipe diameter specifications to the current sizing to calculate the wear.  The next thing to inspect is the thread profile.  Look at the pin end (male end of pipe).  Do the threads show considerable wear or damage?  Inspecting the rod is a crucial step.  Failure can mean significant down time and thousands of lost dollars downhole.


Check the pressures of the hydraulic system to make sure they are within operating specification tolerances.  This is a simple but often overlooked step.  While the machine may seem to operate just fine with a basic functions test, low pressures can cause major problems down hole and be costly to repair.

Rack & Pinion

The rack is the track on which the carriage/gearbox travels up and down the boom.  Overtime the teeth can become worn down to a sharp point.  On certain model drills the rack wears down faster than others.  This can be a good indicator to tell how hard the rig has been run and if the advertised hours are accurate.

Makeup / Break out system 

The break out system, often referred to as vices or wrenches, do the work of making sure your pipe is tightly screwed together when drilling out and breaking apart pipe when pulling back.  Give them a test by torquing a few pieces of pipe together.  There is supposed to be some movement but if there is excessive play they will need to be rebuilt.


Many drills have weak points on their frames and these vary by model.  It is helpful to do your research on the model you’re looking at and consult an expert.  You should examine the frame for cracks and look at the welds.  Look for temporary or poor-quality spot welds, these may pose an issue to the overall integrity of the frame.

We hope this brief overview will point you in the right direction when purchasing a used drill.  MTI Equipment has been sharing their vast knowledge and experience with customers for over 30 years.  MTI created the RE-HDD process to provide peace of mind to contractors.  Each RE-HDD certified drill goes through a meticulous 80-point inspection & refurbishing process by our world class mechanics.  We find the issues so you don’t have to.  This is how MTI Equipment is taking the risk out of buying used.