This guest post is by Kyle Thill.
If you’re interested in buying a used forklift, it may be because your previous unit suddenly needs replacement, or you’re in need of a truck to sustain your day-to-day operations. No matter how serious your need is, I caution you to take the time to carefully inspect any unit before you buy.
As the Director of Services for Toyota Lift of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I’m around forklifts on a daily basis. In my 30 years of industry experience, I’ve learned to pay attention to the following forklift components. Use this checklist to conduct an inspection, before signing on the dotted line. You’ll avoid making a poor decision, and you won’t regret the time you invested.
Inspecting a Used Forklist: Pre-Purchase Checklist
- Open the hood and have a look. If you find a mess there, get your guard up.
- What condition are the tires in, and are they the type your application requires? Indoor uses generally require banded tires. They can be standard or non-marking, and come in both traction and smooth styles. Outdoor use tires will generally use pneumatic or pneumatic-shaped solid tires (to avoid flats). They too can be standard or non-marking. Worn or damaged tires can pose a safety risk. They are in important part of the stability of the truck.
- Look for damaged wheels. If you see damage, you can imagine the sort of shock the forklift and its final drive was put through. This also says something about how the truck was treated in general.
- Are the chains worn to the point that they need to be replaced? If you don’t know how to measure them, ask the selling party to do the measuring and share the information with you. Then, if appropriate, document that they are not in need of replacing.
- Forks are also subject to wear. You’ll want to have them measured, to be certain you won’t have to replace them. With some fork styles, an absolute answer may only be available by measuring and then working with the manufacturer of the fork. Have the seller document that the forks are not worn.
- Be certain the overhead guard isn’t bent, cut or altered. Overhead guards are designed to take a crushing force from above. If the guard’s structural integrity has been reduced, it will need to be replaced. If there is an accident, you’ll get no support from the manufacturer if the guard was compromised in some way. Additionally, some overhead guards are an integral part of the forklift’s frame and are not available as a repair part.
- Is the data plate present, and is it correct? OSHA requires that it be present on any unit in operation, and the capacity of the truck listed has to be correct. If there have been changes to the attachments, a corrected data plate may be required.
- Is the attachment right for you? Generally it will come with at least a side-shifter, but is it right for your pallets and use?
- What hours are on the hour meter and do they jibe with the age of the unit? Some hour meters only have four digits that roll over and can be misleading. If you were able to get maintenance records, look for the hour meter readings there.
- If it is an electric unit, how old is the battery you’re getting with the unit? If it is already three to five years old, you may be looking at needing a replacement. And with the price of new batteries, you may be looking at an expense that exceeds the value of the forklift. Also, does the charger for that battery come with the truck?
- Does it have the right fuel for you? Whether electric or internal combustion, you’ll want it to be a fuel type you are familiar with and have easy access to.
- Is the mast right? Measure to be certain that –when lowered – the mast will pass under the lowest threshold in your building that it needs to and – when raised – will get the pallet to where you need it to go.
- Assess the truck’s width. Measure to be certain that it isn’t too wide to pass through the narrowest door in your building that the unit has to travel through.
- Is there a maintenance sticker present? Dealerships often affix them to the side of the mast. Look at it to see if you can ascertain whether the unit saw planned maintenance at 250 hour intervals, if the truck is an internal combustion unit or an older DC drive electric. Maintenance can occur every 500 hours if the unit has AC drive motors.
- Can you have an independent tech inspect the unit prior to the sale? It may be the smartest couple hundred dollars you’ll ever spend.
If you haven’t yet, take a moment to read my previous article: “What to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Forklift: Before Opening the Hood.” It will inform you as a buyer about what you need to consider before you ever get on site to inspect a used forklift.