3 Things To Consider When Buying A Used Forklift

If you are choosing to purchase a used forklift, what do you need to consider before signing on the dotted line?

Forklifts are an essential tool for heavy lifting in a variety of different industries, but for a small business, the cost of a new one can make it unattainable. Thankfully, there are plenty of used forklifts on the market today to help you get your work done without emptying the company coffers. If you are choosing to purchase a used forklift, what do you need to consider before signing on the dotted line?

No. 1: What Do You Need It For?

First, take the time to consider why you need this forklift. Are you going to be loading and unloading equipment and inventory 24 hours a day, or are you just going to need a forklift a couple of times a week? Are you going to be using this forklift indoors, outdoors or both? Are you concerned about fuel costs, or would you prefer to reduce your carbon footprint by using an electric forklift?

Let’s start with the first question — how are you planning to use your forklift? If you’ll be putting the equipment through its paces with long shifts or constant use throughout the day, you might be better off opting for a new forklift instead, as it will better handle the daily wear and tear.

Next, what type of engine do you want to use? Electric motors are a good option for low-use environments and for using indoors in unventilated areas because they do not create the same exhaust as combustion engines, but they often require eight-hour charge cycles and might not have the battery power necessary to work throughout the day. Internal combustion engines — running on either gas, diesel or propane — have a much longer work cycle, and are easy and quick to refuel and allow work to continue.

Finally, where will you be using it? Most forklifts are designed for both indoor and outdoor use, but you might not want a forklift with an internal combustion engine in a small warehouse or other space that might not have the greatest ventilation.

No. 2: Maintenance and Inspection

Now that you’ve decided to purchase a used forklift for your business, it is time to start inspecting these lifts before you consider purchasing one. There are three things you need to look at closely, including:

  • The front-end equipment — Inspect the rollers, the functionality of the mast carriage and all of the connecting welds. Connected components should be tight and should not move much.
  • Engine and transmission — Inspect the engine and the transmission. Start the engine, and make sure all the components work. If you’re not confident in your mechanical skill, hire a professional to inspect the mechanical components.
  • Lift chains — These components are responsible for lifting the forks and anything that is loaded on them. Inspect the chains for any sign of wear or weakening, and ensure they are properly lubricated.

If these three aspects pass your inspection, consider having the entire forklift inspected by a professional mechanic. If your seller won’t let you inspect their forklift, or insists on having the inspection done by their mechanic, they may be less than reputable, and you should avoid doing business with them.

While you’re inspecting, be sure to ask for the maintenance logs, if they’re available. Knowing the maintenance history allows you to see how the used lift has been cared for throughout its life, and can make it easier to decide if this is the kind of lift you would like to purchase.

No. 3: Take It For A Test Drive

You wouldn’t buy a used car without taking it for a test drive, so why would you buy a used forklift without doing the same? Ask your seller if they are willing to allow you to test-drive their used lift on their property before you purchase it. If they refuse the opportunity for a test-drive, this is a deal-breaker, and you should find another seller. Just like the inspection we mentioned above, this is the sort of behavior that tends to indicate a less-than-reputable seller.

A used forklift can be a great way to improve your productivity without breaking the bank. Just make sure you take some steps to protect yourself before making this purchase, and you’ll be just fine. 

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer.

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