Forklifts are versatile moving machines that help in the efficient lifting and handling of heavy materials, usually weights of between 2,000 lbs. and 100,000 lbs. You may want to buy used forklifts as they cost a little less than new ones, especially if working on a low budget. The tips below offer a few insights into buying these used machines so that you get value for your money.

Age of the Forklift

The fewer years a forklift has been in operation, the higher the price. Therefore, if you are trying to save some cash in your purchase, look for a piece of equipment that is about five years or so and in good condition. Such forklifts will be a lot cheaper than those used for a year or two.

Most of the forklift models track the number of key hours and usage hours on their dashboard. Key hours are the number of hours that the engine is on, including the idle time. Therefore, it is not a good indicator of usage. Check the usage hours as they provide the actual usage. These hours are calculated whenever the operator does a task such as switching (models that don’t move), lifting, driving or using a pump.

Where Was the Forklift Used?

The environment in which the forklift has been operating affects that rate of wear and tear. Those that work in extreme environments are more likely to show any signs of wear and tear than machines working in less hostile environments. Here are a few things to check from this end.

• Working near large saltwater bodies such as lakes and oceans –Check for corrosion on machine components
• Working in an extremely cold environment – Check if the hydraulics and seals on engines have become brittle
• Very humid areas (such as at the coast) – Check for moisture in electrical systems and signs of corrosion

The Physical Condition of the Forklift

It is important that you inspect the condition of the used forklift before even considering buying it. If you are not a plant or auto technician, consider hiring one to do the inspection on your behalf. Here are some major areas that you should check.

The engine: Check how the engine starts. For diesel engines, check the exhaust too. There should be minimal exhaust.
Forks: Check for signs of wear and tear such as cracks, crooked blades or brands that have different heights
Safety Elements: Check the working condition of lights, horn and seatbelts
Lift Chains: Check if there are gaps between the links. You may also have the chains measured using a chain gauge so that you are sure that you can work with the gaps.
Mast: The mast should operate smoothly without slipping. Try to inspect it with and without load.
Tires: Check the tires for radial cracks, chunking and the depth of the tread. If you have to buy tires, have their cost reduced at the buying price.
Leaks: Check if the forklift is leaking oil or coolant by checking the transmission and radiator when the engine gets warm

Other Areas to Check

Check the previous maintenance history. Improper maintenance records is a warning sign that may lead to unexpected maintenance costs if you buy the equipment. Most of the reputable dealers such as Still Forklifts provide a comprehensive equipment history that includes both application and maintenance history. Go through the record to determine the most common problems with the machine and have them checked before you make a choice.

Pick models that are currently in production or being supported by manufacturers. This way, you can get parts readily and at a reasonable price.

Does it Fit Your Needs?

Ensure that you pick a forklift that fits your needs, whether industrial, personal or commercial. The need should not only be the functionality but also the working environment and other factors as discussed below.

• How often will the forklift be used?
• What environment does it work in (indoor or outdoor)?
• What kind of tasks do you need to carry with the forklift?
• Are you in an area with noise, environmental or vibration restriction?
• How much space to you have to operate the equipment?
• Do you need to modify the forklift to accomplish particular tasks?

Check the Warranty

If the forklift is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, determine how much time is left under the warranty. You may also want to contact the previous owner (through the seller) to have the warranty transferred to you. Check if the warranty is voided by reselling the forklift. Besides, there are some sellers who offer warranties for used forklifts. Check the terms of such warranties to determine if they offer you value.

You need to carry out extensive research on used forklifts before you make a purchase. This ensures that you get value for money and a forklift that is fit for the purpose for which you are buying it.


About the author

David Evans

David is Editor-in-chief.

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