You can save big when purchasing a used forklift and fill an immediate need instead of waiting weeks for delivery of a new forklift. However you need to know the basics of how to inspect these machines thoroughly for wear & tear and for safety prior to making a final decision. A forklift is a significant investment so it is crucial to ensure that the machine is in good working condition and will meet the specific needs of your business. In this article we will provide an overview of the key factors to consider when inspecting a forklift prior to purchase.

Condition of the Forklift

The first step in inspecting a forklift is to check the overall condition of the machine. This includes evaluating the paint, decals, and overall appearance of the forklift. A well-maintained forklift will have a clean and polished appearance, whereas a machine that has been neglected may have rust, dents, or other signs of wear and tear. Additionally, it is important to check for any signs of damage or repairs, such as welding or patching, which may indicate that the forklift has been in a collision or has undergone significant wear and tear.

Forklift Tires 

The next step in inspecting a forklift is to check the tires. Tires that are worn or damaged can affect the stability and maneuverability of the forklift, making it more difficult to operate safely. Although there are different types of forklift tires such as pneumatic or cushion tire (solid rubber) which depend on the surface they were designed to operate on  Look for any cuts, bulges, or irregular wear patterns on the tires, which may indicate that they need to be replaced. Additionally, it is important to check the air pressure on (pneumatic tire machines) of the tires to ensure they are properly inflated. While tires are a consumable, and forklifts do consume them fairly quickly due to tight turns under heavy loads, the tires should show an even and flat pattern of wear.

Check Those Brakes

It is also crucial to check the brakes of the forklift, as they play a crucial role in the safety and performance of the machine. The brake system should be inspected for leaks, wear, and proper operation. The brake pads should be checked for wear, and the brake lines and hoses should be inspected for leaks or damage. Forklifts put a high demand on their braking system due to the heavy loads they can carry and thus need to stop quickly. Its not uncommon for a used forklift to need new brakes, but like in a car they are not very expensive. 

Forklift Hydraulics & Mast

Another important aspect to consider when inspecting a forklift is the mast and lift mechanism, including the forks. The mast should be checked for any signs of damage or wear, such as bent or twisted sections, which can affect the stability and load capacity of the forklift. The mast can sometimes be damaged to too heavy of a load, or off centered loads. The lift mechanism should be checked for proper operation and any signs of wear or damage.

The hydraulics are the blood systems of a forklift powering all the necessary functions of the mast such as lift, tilt, side shift and fork positioning. While it's not uncommon for forklift hydraulics to leak, excessive leaks could be the sign of an ill maintained machine which likely hides deeper issues unseen. Look for pooling of hydraulic fluids, leaks around hoses and cylinder seals as well as leaks in and around the controls and hydraulic pump mounted to the engine. Further its a good idea to check the level and quality of hydraulic oil in the machine. 

Check the Forklift Engine

Forklifts are powered by either electric or internal combustion engines and it's important to check the engine of the forklift and make sure it is in good working condition.

Electric Powered Forklifts

Electrical powered lifts are fairly straightforward but you can check a few things to save yourself headaches later. First off check for dirty connections or broken power lines from the batteries to the motors. Secondly check the battery voltage, condition and fluid levels as the batteries in an electric forklift are the most expensive component of the lift truck itself. Bad batteries in an electric truck can be cause to sell them as replacement can easily exceed $4,000 USD. Also make sure you check the charger under load ensuring it is operating correctly and the charger connection and cables are in good condition (it is not uncommon for these to get run over, split, cut open or broken).

Internal Combustion Engines

Whether your forklift is powered by Diesel, Gasoline or Propane there are a few basic checks you can make to save you headaches down the road. Check for any oil leaks, check the fluid levels, and check the battery itself as well as the battery connections. Additionally, it is important to check the air filter and fuel filter to ensure they are clean and in good condition. Lastly check the oil level and quality of the oil. Old dirty black oil at low or very low levels indicate a very neglected and poorly maintained machine that may fail in the not too distant future. 

Finally, it is important to check the safety features of the forklift, such as the seatbelt, horn, and warning lights, including the control panel gauges. These features are essential for safe operation and should be in good working condition.

Inspecting a forklift prior to purchase is an essential step in ensuring that the machine is in good working condition and will meet the specific needs of your business. By thoroughly evaluating the overall condition, tires, brakes, mast and lift mechanism, hydraulics, engine, and safety features, you can make an informed decision about whether the forklift is the right fit for your business. Remember, a forklift is a significant investment and it's crucial to ensure that the machine is in good working condition and will meet the specific needs of your business. Contact us for more information on inspection forklifts or for a list of available machines simply click HERE

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