Posted by & filed under Used Equipment.

This guest blog post is by Kyle Thill.

Just like when you or I purchase a used car, opportunities abound to find a used forklift bargain that fits our budget and needs. But there is plenty of need to use caution, to ensure we don’t get ourselves in trouble down the road with expense and reliability issues.

Like so many decisions, there are tangible and less tangible issues that have to be considered when buying a used forklift. Having been in the industry for over 30 years, and working now as the Director of Services at Toyota Lift of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I’ve learned what to watch out for when it comes to choosing the right forklift for the job.

I’ve broken these issues down into two quick checklists that will be presented in a two-article blog series.

Considerations to Make Before Opening the Hood of a Used Forklift

Used Toyota Forklift

Before you ever lay eyes or hands on a used forklift you’re considering for purchase, work through these considerations. You’ll avoid wasting time making phone calls and on-site visits for used forklifts that aren’t right for you. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on your best options.

  • How are you going to use your forklift? A used forklift is already going to need more maintenance than a new unit, even if the selling dealer has gone through the truck prior to sale.  If you have a light application, you may find the operating cost per hour acceptable. If you plan for heavy use, plan on the certain expense and the disruption to productivity.
  • Who owned the unit previously? If it was at a tough application, the maintenance the unit is going to need moving forward will be greater than a unit used in a light or clean application.
  • Can the owner give you detailed maintenance records? If the previous owner had their work done through a dealership, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • If that owner did their own maintenance, a red flag should go up. It’s too common that units like that are going to need more work than ones maintained professionally.
  • What is the age of the unit? You may want to verify the answer you’re given. Perhaps call a dealership for the brand in a nearby state.
  • If you’re looking at a unit from a dealership, can you get the record of what they repaired just prior to posting the unit for sale?
  • Where is the supporting dealership located? Do they have a technician in the area and parts inventory to support the repairs? There are too many brands coming into the market that haven’t had mature support networks. Stick with known makes.
  • Will the seller support the unit with any warranty coverage?
  • Will you have the right to return it within a reasonable time frame? What conditions will have to be met?
  • Can you rent the unit for a month or two prior to purchase, perhaps under a rent to purchase option where some of your rent payment can go to the purchase of the truck if you decide to keep it? This is a perfect way to give the unit a trial by fire.

Hopefully this checklist helps you get started as you look into buying a used forklift. Part two of this series covers the more tangible aspects of buying – including how to make a proper inspection of a forklift that’s up for sale.

Kyle Thill is the Director of Services at Toyota Lift of Minnesota. He’s been in the industry for “something just over 30 years.” Connect with Toyota Lift of Minnesota on Twitter at @ToyotaEquipment.


Forklift photo via Flickr CC, courtesy of Toyota Material Handling Europe.