5 things to examine when buying a used forklift.

You know the value a forklift can have for your business. Whether the machine is being used to move materials or lift them, it’s the real workhorse in your fleet.

You might be considering buying a forklift to add your business, but aren’t ready to make the leap into a new piece of equipment.

Buying a used forklift means you can save some money, avoid the quick depreciation, while still getting a good quality machine that will become a useful part of your work team.

When buying a big forklift, you might save some money, but you certainly still want a good machine that will be a worthy investment. Read on to learn the things you should examine when looking at a used forklift to purchase.

1. Forks

It makes sense to start with the front of the forklift, the forks. After all, a forklift can’t do the heavy lifting without the forks.

Yes, forks can be replaced, but this just adds cost to the overall price of the used machine.

Start by inspecting the forks, look for bends in the forks. Pay close attention if there are cracks in the forks as this can weaken the forks’ integrity and ability to lift its maximum weight.

You also want to inspect the thickness of the forks. The forks should have the same thickness so they match the thickness of the upright fork shank. If they don’t, this is a sign of excessive wear.

2. Mast, Rails, Lift Chains

While the forks might hold the load, the real lifting happens because of the mast, rails, and lift chains.

Begin by checking the mast. Like the forks, you want to check for any cracks in the mast. Cracks undermine the structural integrity of the machine. Also, check the mast rollers, which should be a round shape. If the rollers are more oval it indicates a high amount of wear.

Then continue by looking carefully at the lift chains. Here you want to inspect the chains to make sure there are no missing links in the chain. You also want to be sure there are not missing anchor pins.

Finally, check for any leaks around the mast, rails, or chains. This could indicate there is a loose or broken hose in the hydraulics.

3. Tires

Next, you want to inspect the tires on the machine.

First, you want to make sure the machine has the kind of tires that will work for your needs. There are basically two types of tires to consider.

  • Cushion tires are solid rubber and can come with or without a tread
  • Pneumatic tires are air-filled and often come with more tread, often for outdoor use

Once you are sure your used forklift has the right kind of tires, then you should inspect them. Look to make sure the tires are solid and don’t have any pieces of rubber missing. You want to look for obvious signs of wear.

4. Engine

This is the look under the hood, so to speak, part of the inspection. Take a look at the engine of the forklift.

It’s important to remember, dirty doesn’t necessarily mean beat up. Forklifts are hard-working machines. They could have some dirt and still be in great working order.

When looking at the engine, you want to know how many hours the machine has been run. This gives you important information about the life of the machine.

Look carefully for potential leaks around the engine. Look for loose oil that might indicate a leak.

While inspecting the machine, also look for signs of loose hoses or dripping hydraulic fluid.

5. Cab

Not all forklifts come with an enclosed cab area. Yet, you want to take some time to inspect the driver’s area. Look at the condition of the cab area.

Does the cab have the features you need for your forklift operator? Is an enclosed cab important? Do you need heat in the cab?

Sit in the seat of the forklift and make sure the seat feels secure and isn’t moving around. Check to make sure there is a seatbelt and that it’s in good working order.

Turn the forklift on and make sure all of the gages are operating properly.

Consider the Machine Specs

When shopping for a forklift, you want to look closely at the specs of the machine. First, you need to answer some questions yourself.

  • How much weight do you need to lift?
  • How high do you need to lift?
  • What power source do you want to use, gas, electric, diesel?
  • How much space do you have to take turns with the forklift?
  • Are your forklift operators trained to drive this type of machine?

Once you have the answer to these questions, you will better be able to narrow down your options to make sure the forklift you purchase is the right fit.

Look Over Maintenance Records

Another thing to look over when purchasing a used forklift is the maintenance records for the machine.

This gives you a good picture of the previous life of the machine. it tells you how the machine was maintained over the course of its life. Did the machine get the needed routine maintenance?

If there is no information related to the machine maintenance, that’s a potential red flag. It might mean the previous owner did not care about the machine in a way that will make it last as long as it should.

The maintenance records are just another way to get information about the machine.

Buying a Used Forklift That Fits Your Needs

If you are interested in buying a used forklift, you can certainly save yourself some money over buying a new. Take your time and do your homework when looking at the used machine options.

With a close look and the right options, buying a used forklift can be a smart choice.