The Steps You Must Take Before Buying a Reconditioned Forklift

Forklift Servicing

Purchasing a new forklift to add to your fleet can be quite an exciting task, particularly if you know that such an addition will increase the efficiency and productivity of your business. But while there are several brand new models available, they often fail to meet smaller, more modest budgets. As such, an increasing number of warehouse and stockroom owners are looking to purchase high-quality, state-of-the-art machinery at a fraction of the cost, and that’s where reconditioned forklifts come into play.

Much like a brand new forklift, a second-hand, reconditioned forklift truck will often have the same functionalities and capabilities, meaning that you can get the same high-quality equipment for a price that’ll match your budget. However, if you’re on the lookout for a used forklift, there are a few things you should do before signing on the dotted line.

Here at Refurbished Forklifts, we have compiled a list of things to do and questions to ask long before you move forward with any transactions. This will ensure that you’re purchasing solid, legitimate machinery that’ll be safe for both the operator and those on the warehouse floor. So, here are our hints and tips for purchasing a reconditioned forklift that suit both your requirements and your budget.

Carry out your own visual inspection

When it comes to buying a reconditioned forklift, the general rule is to not buy one online, especially if you only have the seller’s pictures and a description (which may or may not be accurate) to go from. Where sourcing the machines online is very commonplace, it’s actually better to go to the premises and see the refurbished forklift for yourself, preferably with a trusted employee who is trained in driving forklifts.

Upon your inspection, you should lookout for a number of different things, including:

  • Rust on any part of the vehicle
  • Damage to any bodywork, parts or components
  • Cracks to the exterior or fractured parts
  • Signs of repair welding
  • Fluid leaks

Should you discover any of the aforementioned issues, it’s important that you raise them and take photos if you do plan on purchasing the reconditioned forklift. It’s imperative that you keep these problems in mind as you’ll need to cross check them against the Thorough Examination certificate and its service history at a later date.

If, for whatever reason, you cannot view the used forklift in the flesh, you should not go forward with the transaction. You should wait until you’re able to go and see it or simply decline to pursue the sale further. Buying a reconditioned forklift online is a relatively big risk to take, not only financially, but also from a Health and Safety perspective.

Ask to test drive any reconditioned forklift

Much like you would a car, you’re able to test drive a reconditioned forklift truck, hence why, if you aren’t trained in the art of operating a forklift, you should have a competent employee with you who is qualified to test drive the forklift on your behalf.

It’s always better to have two people on hand to conduct checks on the machine, because whoever isn’t driving the reconditioned forklift should be keeping a lookout for other things that the operator may not be able to see, including:

  • The colour of exhaust fumes
  • Any residue being left behind
  • Leaks that are only apparent upon operation of the forklift
  • The condition of the lights and whether they comply with Health and Safety regulations

If you can, test drive the forklift over level, clean ground so that you can see exactly what may be leaking (if there is anything). It will also help you to determine the colour of any leakages as that may identify where the problems are coming from.

Make sure you test drive the vehicle long enough so that the engine runs warm or hot, as this is when issues are most likely to arise. Testing the forklift on a cold engine for a short amount of time will not give you an accurate representation of the true state of the forklift and its inner workings.

If you’re refused the option to test drive the forklift, then the best thing to do, in order to ensure the safety of all involved, the sale should be abandoned unless they provide you with an appointment slot or ask you to come back at a later date if a fair and legitimate reason is given.

Check the warranty on a used forklift

A good warranty is crucial when it comes to purchasing any forklift, whether new or used, so you need to take the necessary steps to find out whether it is under warranty still. If it’s under a manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll need to contact the company directly in order to find out whether it has, or still needs to be, transferred. Some warranties can be transferred automatically, whereas some are exempt upon resale of the machine.

There are a number of things you need to check regarding the warranty before you go through with the purchase, including:

  • How long the warranty lasts for
  • What the warranty covers
  • What’s excluded from the warranty

Make sure that the forklift has not been illegally imported

With a growing number of illegitimate imports of refurbished forklifts coming into the United Kingdom, it’s never been more important to check for the signs that a refurbished forklift has been illegally brought into the country before you, or anyone else, buys it.

If you unknowingly buy an illegally imported, reconditioned forklift, you may find that it’s harder and more expensive to find and replace parts. Not only that, but they’re even harder to resell should you want rid of it. You could also risk voiding the insurance you hold should an accident occur that involves that particular forklift, so it’s always better to conduct the necessary checks before buying a refurbished machine.

Some things to look out for that could indicate the illegal importation of forklift trucks include:

  • An extremely cheap asking price
  • Labels, directions and identity plates that are in a different language
  • The absence of a CE mark
  • An operator manual or warning stickers that are poorly worded or in a different language

Ask to see the Certificate of Thorough Examination

This confirms whether or not a reconditioned forklift complies with LOLER and PUWER regulations and so it’s important that your refurbished forklift comes supplied with one of these upon its purchase. Although this gives you a general idea of the overall condition of the forklift, together with how safe it is, you shouldn’t rely solely on the certificate itself when it comes to its service history.

Despite the law stating that every reconditioned forklift should come with a Certificate of Thorough Examination, if you decide to buy the machine, that then becomes your responsibility as the new owner. You should have it inspected by an accredited examiner from the CFTS, as recommended by the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA).

However, before agreeing to buy a reconditioned forklift truck, you must ask to see its Certificate of Thorough Examination. If this cannot be provided, then ask for an examination to be done, as it’s required by law. If your request is then refused, you must look to abandon the sale and look elsewhere for a safe, reliable, refurbished forklift.

Ensure the battery still has some charge, if buying an electric reconditioned forklift

Worth up to 40% of the forklift’s overall value, its battery is one of the most expensive parts of any forklift, which is why it’s important that, if opting to buy an electric machine, the battery has enough charge in it for you to carry out operations effectively.

On average, an electric forklift will often last for around 1,200 charges, with each charge giving the operator around five hours of running time. If you take the machine’s total hours and divide that by five, that should give you a rough idea as to how much life is left in the battery itself. For a more accurate representation, you can always ask the battery supplier to test the battery for you, giving you absolute peace of mind should you opt for an eco-friendly, reconditioned, electric forklift truck.

As a high value component, forklift owners will often take out a separate warranty on the battery alone, purely based on the fact that, should it fail, it could cost several thousand pounds to replace.

Check the clock readings

Much like you’d check the mileage on a car before handing over the cash, you can also check the clock on a forklift. However, instead of it being measured in miles, it’s actually measured in the hours it’s spent in operation.

According to the experts, one hour of forklift use is the equivalent of a car travelling around 30 miles. If the reconditioned forklift you’re looking to buy has clocked up more than 3,000 hours, then that’s the same as a car with a mileage of over 100,000.

It’s important to bear in mind that, much like a car, these numbers can be tampered with. In order to look into this further, you should check the hours against its service history, especially if it looks worn and tired but has clocked up fewer hours than expected.

Is the mast on a reconditioned forklift fit for purpose?

It’s paramount that the mast perfectly suits your application, the overall size of your premises and the type of stock or loads you transport. Make a note of the maximum height you need your new, reconditioned forklift to go and jot down the heights of any ceilings or doorways – it’s important that the mast is able to clear those in order for it to be used to its full potential.

You must also consider the weight you need the machine to lift and transport, as again, if it cannot deal with the weight of your stock, it could very easily become a wasted purchase. If you find a reconditioned forklift with a mast that’s right for your operations, then the next thing you need to do is inspect the mast more closely before making a final decision.

Things to look out for include:

  • Noticeable damage
  • Wear and tear that could prove to be costly to repair
  • Flaking residue around hydraulics or transmission – this could be a sign that improper wear is occurring
  • Lubrication where there ordinally wouldn’t be – this could be a sign that the owner is trying to compensate for a larger, more considerable fault
  • The mast struggling to, or failing to, fully extend
  • Rollers that stick – this could be a sign that some bearings are missing or worn

If you notice any of these things, you should discuss it with the owner and either try and get the price down to match its deteriorated condition or, if it seems like a costly job, don’t go through with the purchase. If the owner begins to get irritated or aggressive upon the commencement of the discussion, you should avoid buying a reconditioned forklift from that particular place.

The rating plate must contain all the relevant data

This is a critical part of any forklift, whether it’s brand new or reconditioned. This will detail exactly how much weight the refurbished forklift can lift and therefore plays a vital role in keeping your employees safe in the workplace.

Take a close look at the rating plate and check that the data detailed on it is both legitimate and correct at the time of purchase. You must ensure that the rated capacity is ever so slightly higher than your estimated maximum load.

Refurbished Forklifts are proud to be able to supply our customers with high-calibre, reconditioned forklifts and used warehouse equipment that can always be counted upon to improve business operations. All of our machines come supplied with a Certificate of Thorough Examination for your absolute peace of mind. Having been refurbished in our state-of-the-art workshop, constructed in line with strict Health and Safety regulations, you can rest assured that you’ll always be provided with a second-hand forklift that’ll perform to the highest possible standards every single time.

For more information about how we can help you today, get in touch with a member of our trusted, knowledgeable team – we’ll always be happy to talk you through your options and discuss any queries or questions you might have.

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