Warning Signs to Look Out for When Buying a Used Forklift

Buying a used forklift is extremely popular within the material handling industry, mainly because they’re acquiring high-quality, robust equipment for a fraction of the cost of a brand new vehicle.

Usually, there are multiple different makes and models available, all of which have been made by some of the most renowned manufacturers in the industry. So, much like when buying a second-hand car, you’ll have absolute peace of mind that it’s been constructed with innovation in mind and refurbished with safety at the forefront of restoration operations.

So what should a warehouse owner be looking for when seeking out a used forklift? There are several things you should keep in mind, including weight capacity and lifting capabilities, but there are a few other important aspects that you should consider when looking to buy a second-hand forklift.

Warning signs you should look out for: a checklist

It’s essential that, when looking to purchase a used forklift, you inspect it properly, looking for signs of wear and tear or other damages. However, there are a fair few other things you should be looking out for when buying a used forklift.

Where you might not have to worry about being as thorough when purchasing from a reputable second-hand forklift dealer, such as Refurbished Forklifts, it’s still recommended that you refer back to this checklist:

Things you should be keeping an eye out for when it comes to buying a refurbished forklift include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Damage to the backrest or overhead guard
  • Low oil pressure
  • Damage to the radiator
  • Rust in the engine coolant
  • Transmission fluid that has become discoloured
  • Worn valves or rings
  • Scored or bowed mast channels
  • Scored cylinder rods
  • Downward drift of elevated carriage
  • Hydraulic control valves that are leaking
  • The absence of a CE mark
  • A suspicious CE mark
  • Welds, bends, cracks or excessive wear to the forks
  • Loose steer tie-rod ends or steer axles knuckles
  • Signs of rewelding
  • Chassis cracks
  • Rust on the chassis itself
  • A lack of safety equipment
  • A high number of truck hours on the clock
  • Uneven tyre wear
  • Fluid leaks appearing underneath the forklift, even when idle for a short while
  • Loud or excessive noise coming from the motor, especially when carrying a load
  • The exhaust pipe expelling sooty residue
  • Brakes that are jerky
  • The forklift failing to brake in a straight line
  • An operator manual that’s in your language and not a foreign one

What should you do when buying a used forklift?

When looking to buy a used forklift, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re purchasing a safe forklift that’s both effective and efficient. Where you’ll have to ask the dealer a few questions about the forklift, there are some things you’ll be able to see simply by looking at the vehicle, such as identifying maximum load capacities, for example. So what should you be doing and/or asking about when purchasing a used forklift?

Is the forklift up to the job? – think about your operations and consider whether the forklift you’re looking at is suitable. Identify maximum load capacities, lift heights, how it’s powered and whether it will be able to navigate around your aisles or reach racking effectively.

Have you heard of the manufacturer? – only choose a forklift that’s been manufactured by a well-known brand. Refurbished Forklifts can provide forklifts from Mitsubishi, Aisle-Master and CombiLift, for example, all of which are renowned throughout the industry.

Ask to look at the paperwork – you should be provided with the correct certificates and safety information regarding the used forklift, including any repairs that it has received. You should also look for a CE mark as it means it’s been approved for European use.

What’s ‘on the clock’? – choose a forklift that’s been run for 1,000 hours or less for every year of its life. Much like mileage on a second-hand car, it can indicate the amount of wear it’s had, even if it’s not visible or obvious on the outside (such as signs of wear and tear).

Give it a test drive – make sure you test drive the forklift or ask one of your trusted operators to do it for you. Start the engine from cold and pay attention to how well the engine turns over, whether any smoke appears and whether it can be reversed and driven forward with ease and navigated around tight spaces or down narrow aisles.

Do the leak test – ask for the forklift to be parked up and left for around 10-15 minutes. Move the forklift again and check for any puddles – this could indicate a leak which is often expensive to fix.

Does the mast operate smoothly? – request to load the forklift and operate the mast. You should then operate the mast without a load. The mast channels should be solid and rigid as should the movement between a mast and the fork carriage.

Are the forks in good condition? – look for wear and tear, paying attention to how well the forks fit, whether there are any cracks and how thick the fork is at the heel. There shouldn’t be any damage and they should fit rigidly and not be loose in any way.

Is the forklift still under warranty? – ask whether the forklift is under warranty, how much of it is left, what it covers and what it excludes. Be careful here as if the former owner had work done to the vehicle whilst it’s still under warranty, they might have voided the guarantee.

Request to see the battery – look for white crystals on a forklift battery as it could be a sign of sulphation which can prevent the battery from charging. It should be in good condition but ask if and when it was replaced. Once you know the hours it has worked, you can determine how much charge the battery has left. Usually, a battery consists of 1,200 charges and they last for around five hours each time.

Perform a tyre check – look for signs of uneven wear, damages, cuts, bulges and low tyre tread. Ask if they’re rubber or polyurethane because the latter are generally far stronger and will, therefore, last longer than its rubber counterpart.

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