Buying A Used Forklift

A Purchasing A Used Forklift

The following article is a follow-up from Part 1 of this series. Refer back to Part 1 for details on what factors you should consider when buying a used forklift. Also, whether you should consider an alternative such as a new forklift or a rental agreement.

Once you have decided to buy a used forklift you have two major considerations – the reputation of the seller and the condition of the forklift.

The seller should be reputable

Buying from a reputable source will minimise your risks considerably. You need to ensure that the vendor provides full and honest disclosures about the history of the forklift and will support you after the transaction if the details are misrepresented.

What is the condition of the used forklift?

When assessing the forklift you should consider factors such as the degree of reliance on the forklift within your existing fleet, the application for the forklift. Also, how demanding the workload will be. These factors may lead to a more detailed evaluation of the forklift on offer. Of course, the best way to get a good buy is to perform proper and thorough due diligence on your purchase.

Your assessment should include at least the following areas:

  • Brand

Choosing a well-known and well-supported brand is likely to result in far fewer and less costly problems later in life, as well as protecting your resale value.

  • Paperwork and identity

Check for a genuine CE mark, a clear identity plate with capacity ratings, service sticks or service history and an operator’s manual. Also, check the warning indicators on the forklift are clearly functioning.

  • Hour meter check

Ensure the total hours on the hour meter appear accurate and do not indicate if the forklift overworked. As a guide 1,000 hours p.a. can be compared to 50,000 km on a car. A forklift averaging more than 1,000 hours p.a. may provide a greater risk. Verify any readings against the service records.

  • Perform a test run

Drive the forklift to ensure it runs smoothly. For an IC forklift, start the engine from cold. Look out for smoke emissions, and how the engine turns over. Test it on a ramp on both forward and reverse. When buying online try to get a representative to perform a test drive.

  • Leak test

Run the engine for 10 mins, and operate all of the hydraulic functions, before checking the ground for any fluid leaks.

  • Mast operation

Check for smooth mast movements, with and without load. Test for play in the mast channels and between the mast and the carriage. Also, ensure that the mast does not creep down or forward when under load. An experienced person should check the mast and chains.

  • Forks

Check that the thickness at the heel of the forks complies with the supplier specifications. Also, check the clearance from the ground and for any cracks. A loose fit could indicate worn carriage or hanger points.

  • Tyres

Tyre quality is important, as replacement tyres can be very expensive. Use only correct tyre type on the forklift. Also, check for uneven wear as this may indicate poor axle alignment.

  • Battery

The cost of the battery of a new battery electric forklift will represent 25 – 30% of the price, and may even be higher on a used unit. It is vitally important to get an inspection on the battery from the battery manufacturer or a reputable forklift dealer.

  • Warranty

Many used forklifts will offer no warranty period. Request a warranty period. But be clear how much warranty is being offered, what it covers, and what any exclusions may be.

It is highly recommended that you get a mechanical inspection performed on the forklift, by an experienced mechanic. Centra Forklifts use a specific checklist to perform a thorough assessment on used trucks and to note any deficiencies. Alongside the evaluations above our experts can perform a series of specific tests to check for any signs of abuse. Examples for this are oil pressure, radiator integrity, transmission fluid check, mast channel inspection, hydraulic control valves, steer axles, chassis integrity, uneven tyre wear, fluid leaks, excessive or irregular noise, smooth brakes, etc. These checks are vital to protecting your investment.

In the first part of this series, we reviewed the decisions that should be considered before committing to the purchase of a new forklift. The option to own or rent should consider factors such as shareholder objectives and working capital availability. From there an assessment of the forklift’s workload & application, and its importance to your business are all important factors in making the buying decision. Having committed to your purchase a formal mechanical assessment of the forklift is necessary to minimise the risks around your decision. Engage a reputable forklift supplier to assist with this evaluation, and ensure you are protecting your investment.