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What To Look For When Buying A Forklift

Sometimes there’s just no good way of convincing yourself to splurge on a new forklift, even if it is only a lease. Maybe you just have low hours for the week and it’s something that would maybe see 20 hours of use per week. In either of these cases, switching gears to the used forklift market can help you save some money. Or possibly – after reading this, a lot of money.

Where To Look For A Used Forklift


Always try to shop local for this type of purchase. Before anything, try to search within your local area for forklift dealers. Every material handling company will charge a forklift transport fee to deliver the equipment to you. So to help save on costs, try shopping your local area first. Check locally on dealer websites, or take a look at some of the auction boards. 

Just be aware that there are more risks involved with auction websites since you don’t know the background and history of the equipment or how well it had been taken care of. Any reputable forklift vendor will have certifications with safety regulations passed. They should also offer a 30 day warranty covering powertrain and parts and labor.

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What To Look Out For When Buying A Used Forklift


Knowing when and how to purchase used forklifts are easy. Trying to figure out how to properly inspect one however, can be a challenge especially if you have particularly little understanding of the forklift’s components affecting ownership costs and maintenance. Some of these tips can help provide you with guidance to making a better decision. 

Check The Forks For Any Damage

      
When you inspect a forklift, you’ll most likely begin with the front. Be on the lookout for any cracks or signs of wear. Cracks tend to be the most worrisome since they are an early indication that the forks will need to be replaced soon. A spot often forgot is the heel of the fork blade.

Checking For Gaps In The Lift Chains


While moving up from the forks, check the mast for any cracks or welding marks where a crack may have been repaired. Poor welds will affect the structural integrity of the mast. Look at the middle of the mast and check the lift chains for any missing or corroded links.

Inspect The Mast Operation


Have the forklift seller raise the forks just enough to extend a second mast. Any issues with this process indicates that the link chain will need some fixing. If the rollers on the mast are in a lopsided shape and not perfectly round this is an issue. 

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Check The Tires


Get down and inspect the tires for any chunking. A telltale sign of chunking is when the tire looks like a big piece of rubber was bitten out of it. Another issue is if the tires have low or nonexistence tread. Once the top of a tire’s lettering is reached they should be replaced. A great test for this is the penny test. Just place a penny in the groove and if you can see the top of Abe Lincoln’s head you’ll know the tread is too low.

Determining Battery Life


Unfortunately, with batteries, it’s hard to determine the number of hours a battery has been through. One way to get an idea is to check with the seller and see how many shift operations it had been used for and the amount of years. 

Normal batteries will typically have a lifespan of about 5 years for single shift operations. So if you have a battery that was used for two shifts and is a year old, it probably has about 2-3 years of life left on it. One other thing to look for is any exterior acid corrosion.              

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What Is The Engine’s Condition?


After running the forklift for a few minutes you can open the engine compartment and check for any leaks or cracks in the hoses. Remove the dipstick and check the engine’s oil levels. A low oil level can indicate that there is a leak somewhere. Ensure that all belts are tightly and well lubricated. Also check the brakes and transmission fluid.

Ensure That All Safety Features Work


The most common areas you will want to check are all geared towards protecting the operator. Make sure that the horn, seatbelts, lights and brakes all function properly. Have a look at the guard frame; any damage here can put the operator’s safety in jeopardy.  

Conclusion


There are many things to be on the lookout for when buying a used forklift. Just remember that some of the most important elements that can save you thousands in repair costs are:

  • Buying your equipment from a certified used dealer (avoid auction sites)
  • Purchase the forklift locally to avoid expensive freight transport costs
  • Try to determine the age of the battery. A new battery replacement can cost between $1,500-$5,000
  • Bring along a technician to inspect the forklift’s mechanical functionality
  • Verify the odometer reading and make sure the equipment was only used part time. 
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