Person lifts a pallet with a forklift in a warehouse

How to Find the Best Used Forklifts For Sale

Since brand new machines are a costly investment, many businesses will opt for purchasing a used forklift to help cut costs. Since forklifts have relatively long lifespans, purchasing a used machine can help you stick to your budget without sacrificing quality or capability.

When investing in any piece of used equipment, it is important to do your due diligence to ensure that you are making the right choice. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind, and how to find the best used forklifts for sale.

Inspect For Damage

The first thing you'll want to do is inspect the machine for signs of damage that go beyond typical wear-and-tear. Evidence of excessive damage can indicate that the machine was not properly used or maintained, which could result in costly repairs for you in the near future. Here are the most important elements to inspect, and how to know whether or not they've been damaged.

The Forks

Starting with the part of the machine that sees the most action, you'll want to take a look at the forks to check for any visible signs of damage. Keep an eye out for cracks and warped or bent pieces. If you see any cracks on the fork, be aware that this is a telltale sign that the fork will need to be replaced soon. If this is not an expense that you are willing to take on, you may want to pass on a machine that has cracked forks.

The Mast

On a well-maintained forklift, the masts should operate smoothly. When you go to look at a used forklift, ask the seller to raise the forks so you can see if there is any friction or sluggishness when a second or third mast is extended. This could be a sign that the mast rollers or link chain needs to be repaired or replaced, and could indicate that the mast rollers were not maintained properly or lubricated frequently.

The Tires

Since the tires of a used forklift see a lot of action, it is important to check to see if any chunks have been taken out of any of the tires. This is a telltale sign that the tires will need to be replaced.

In addition to chunking, you will also want to check for proper treading along the tires to see how much life they have left. If the tread is low or bare, you will need to either budget for tire replacements, or keep looking for a forklift that is in better condition.

The Lift Chains

Check for gaps in the welding of the lift chains to find evidence that there used to be cracks in the metal that have been fixed. If the weld was not done correctly, it can impact the integrity of the mast, leading to costly repairs or malfunctions in the future. Thoroughly inspect the lift chains for gaps, welding mistakes, and any missing or corroded links or pins.

Check The Battery Life

Since a forklift battery does not log the number of hours, it is important to speak with the seller to find out how long the machine has been in service, and what kind of daily operations it has been through. With single-shift operations, an average forklift battery should last for about five years. If you learn that the forklift was used for double shifts, you know to cut down the remaining life expectancy of the battery.

In addition to the battery life, it is also important to check for physical signs of damage such as corrosion for lead-acid batteries.

Inspect the Engine

After allowing the forklift to run for a few minutes, check the engine compartment for evidence of leaks. Check the hoses for cracks, the dipstick to check the oil levels, check the brakes and transmission fluid, and ensure that the belts are lubricated and running smoothly.

Check the Odometer

To ensure that you are purchasing a well-maintained machine, check the odometer and verify that the wear-and-tear on the forklift is on par with the number of hours logged. If you notice signs of significant wear or damage on parts of the machine, yet the odometer shows that it has not been used excessively, this could be evidence that the machine has not been used correctly.\ When shopping for a used forklift, the best option is to look for a machine that was used part-time and was well-maintained by its previous owner.

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