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Backhoe excavators (also known as backhoe loaders) are some of the most versatile machines on the market. Capable of working as an excavator and a loader, these machines are a popular choice on many worksites.

Today we’re pitting arguably two of the biggest names in backhoes up against each other: the Cat 432F and the JCB 3CX. Two popular machines, similar in size, power and operating weight.

Backhoe Specs

Cat 432F Specs

To start us off, we’ll be looking at the Cat 432F, a powerful backhoe designed to work in extreme conditions. In fact, the wheels have been proven to handle extreme heat up to 50 °C.

Engine Cat C4.4 ACERT
Engine Power (Gross 2,200 RPM) 74.5 kW (101 hp)
Peak Torque (1,400 RPM) 450 Nm
Operating Weight (standard config.) 8,973 kg
Fuel Tank 160 L
Dump Height at Max. Angle (GP) 2,796 mm
Backhoe Digging Depth SAE Max. Standard Stick 4,278 mm
Backhoe Max. Operating Height Standard Stick 5,691 mm

More Specs

Specs are based off standard layout on US model. Differences may apply to local models.

The powerful engine, well-designed hydraulics and large fuel tank means the Cat 432F is capable of handling heavy workloads for extended periods of time. The power of the Cat C4.4 ACERT engine also allows the 432F to use a range of different attachments to their full potential. Some compatible attachments include:

  • Loader buckets
  • Backhoe buckets
  • Augers
  • Cold planers
  • Compactor plates
  • Hydraulic hammers

JCB 3CX Backhoe Specs

JCB 3CX

Next we’ll take a look at the JCB 3CX backhoe excavator. With almost half of backhoe loader market share, JCB understands what you need from your machines. Which is why they’ve focused on providing great value in the 3CX with plenty of innovative features and a powerful engine that can handle any job.

Engine JCB DIESELMAX
Engine Power (Gross) 68.6 kW (92 hp)
Peak Torque (1,400 RPM) 400 Nm
Operating Weight 7,800 kg
Fuel Tank 128 L
Dump Height at Max. Angle (GP) 2,740 mm
Backhoe Digging Depth SAE Max. Standard Stick 4,240 mm
Backhoe Max. Operating Height Standard Stick 5,530 mm

More Specs

*Specs are based off UK product brochure, local models may differ

On top of great power and reach, the boom and the dipper on the 3CX are of equal length. This makes it easier to dig closer to the backhoe—perfect for tighter, more compact areas.

Much like the Cat 432F, the 3CX is durable and built to perform in the toughest situations. JCB states it has been put through rigorous testing in extreme conditions, ranging from -18 °C to 46 °C with a grid heater fitted.

Of course, the powerful engine also makes it a versatile workhorse for your jobsite. The JCB 3CX is compatible with a range of JCB attachments, including the 6-in-1 loader shovel. This loader shovel can handle almost all of your common tasks, including:

  • Dozing
  • Loading
  • Grabbing
  • Grading
  • Digging
  • Backfilling

All with a single attachment!

The Results

As you can see, the Cat 432F packs more power under the bonnet. However, both of these backhoes are comparable when it comes to boom length and dig depth, making them suited to many of the same applications. So if pure power is what you need, the Cat 432F is the way to go. If good dig depth and reach are what you need, then both of these backhoes have got you covered.

Cat 432F Backhoe Excavator In Action

Model shown may be an overseas variant. Australian models may differ.

JCB 3CX Backhoe Excavator In Action

Model shown may be an overseas variant. Australian models may differ.


Comparing the Cabs

Cat 432F Cab

Inside the cab, there are excavator-style controls and an air-suspension seat. Caterpillar has redesigned the cab to make the 432F easier and more comfortable to operate. There are several control system options in place to make it easier on the operator. The dual-position joysticks (which are pod-mounted) let you lean back with the controls by your side, or lean forward with the controls for those moments when you really need to concentrate.

Another feature is the pattern selector. This switch lets you easily change from the excavator control pattern to a backhoe one. Letting you control the loader with your preferred control pattern.

Optional air conditioning will help you stay cool during hot weather, and also helps demist and defrost when needed.

Inside the cab of the JCB 3CX

JCB 3CX Cab

JCB understands the key to a productive operator is a comfortable operator. The 3CX’s cab design helps promote productivity, while giving you maximum comfort throughout your work day.

The fully adjustable suspension seat comes standard, along with the low-effort braking setup, two key factors in improving operator comfort. You’ll also find that there’s plenty of lockable storage.

You can also choose between an enclosed cab or a canopy variant, with the enclosed cab being pressurised and air conditioned (depending on region) as standard.

The Results

It probably won’t come as a surprise, but there’s nothing really separating these two when it comes to their cabs. Both feature suspension seats, traditional and excavator style controls, and a slew of added features like dual brakes. The JCB 3CX does have an optional canopy variant, giving you a great way to save money on the initial purchase. There’s no way to truly pick a winner when it comes to cab, so we’ll leave that to you!

Backhoe Maintenance

Cat 432F Maintenance

Working hard over the past few years, Caterpillar has made daily maintenance easy on all of their equipment. This is no different for the Cat 432F. All of your daily check points, like:

  • Fill points
  • Air cleaner
  • Washer bottles
  • Indicators

Are above the engine bay, easily accessible by releasing the engine hood.

The remodelled front nose swings open, making it easy to access the hinged cooling pack for debris removal. The axles and driveshafts are sealed for life, so you don’t need to get into those awkward areas under the backhoe for greasing.

JCB 3CX Maintenance

JCB 3CX Maintenance

Reducing downtime is important on every worksite, which is why JCB has designed the 3CX to be quick and easy to maintain. All the daily checks and routine services can be done from one side, and the most important service items are grouped to make access even easier.

Another key factor to reducing downtime is the length of your service intervals. Components in the JCB 3CX have longer service intervals, helping to increase uptime and reduce maintenance costs.

Expected service intervals:

Engine Oil Every 500 hours
Engine Oil Filter Every 500 hours
Hydraulic Oil Every 2000 hours
Hydraulic Oil Filter Every 500 hours
Transmission Oil Every 500 hours
Transmission Filter Every 500 hours
Axle Oil Every 1000 hours

Depending on your region, Livelink will also come standard. This software lets you remotely monitor your backhoe and accurately reports hours and service alerts. Which makes it easier to plan for maintenance and downtime.

The Results

Both backhoes have got single-entry access points for all daily maintenance tasks and checks, and of course, the quality of the parts reduces maintenance as well. So what separates these two in the end? JCB’s openness about their service intervals and Livelink. Easy-to-find service intervals make it much easier for you to plan and build your workday, while Livelink lets you easily monitor worked hours and scheduled maintenance tasks. While also providing a range of non-maintenance benefits. In this case, the JCB wins hands-down.


Backhoe Excavator Price

Cat Backhoe Price

The Cat 432F is a versatile backhoe excavator that can handle extreme workloads, so it commands a matching price tag. The average price for a used Cat 432F sits around $138,000*, but that will vary depending on age, condition and attachments.

JCB Price

JCB has been around for a long time, so have the 3CX. Because of this, the average price can vary a lot, as there are some backhoe excavators from the 90’s available for sale. That said, for more recent used models, you are looking at an average price of around $90,000. You’ll generally be able to get an older model for much less, with the average price for pre-2013 models averaging about $35,000*. Of course, you can get an even better deal by checking out what 3CXs (and other backhoes) are available at auction.

The Results

This one is slightly subjective, as which of the two you think is the real winner comes down to what you want from the machine. The JCB has a much lower average price, for a machine that can handle almost the exact same workloads. When it comes to the price, the JCB 3CX wins.


Which backhoe excavator will you choose?

As with most business decisions, it’s going to come down to cost vs performance. With a more powerful engine, higher operating weight and larger fuel tank, the Cat 342F is able to handle heavier and tougher workloads. While the JCB 3CX offers a much lower price point with only a slight reduction in power and little-to-no loss at all when it comes to maximum dig depth and reach.

Want to see what backhoes are available? Browse through our new and used backhoe listings to find out.

If you think we missed something, got something wrong, or want to see us compare other backhoes, leave us a comment below.


*Prices are an average taken from www.machines4u.com.au. Always consult with your dealer/seller before purchasing.

Sources: JCB Product Brochure, Caterpillar Product Brochure

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