4 Secrets to Avoid Buying a Forklift “Lemon”

When buying expensive industrial equipment, you must have knowledge to get a quality deal on need-specific machinery while avoiding wasting capital.

Caution, Watch out for forklift signKnow the amount of labor that you expect the vehicle to perform to understand desired quality and budget. Consider purchasing a new forklift unless your needs fall into one of these categories:

  • The forklift will only be operated during a single shift.
  • The forklift will be operated for <5 hours each day.
  • The forklift will be operated <5 days each week.
  • The labor is not overly intense or nonstop.

Inspecting Your Forklift

If you decide to purchase a used forklift [https://www.nfe-lifts.com/used-forklifts/], here are a few factors to consider during inspection:

1. Assess Your Options

Most industrial trucks are rental fleet units, trade-ins or lease retirements. Among these three categories, rental fleet units are often the best buys because trade-ins and lease retirements are usually run for 7-10 years before they enter the resale market.
If you find a trade-in or lease retirement truck that you believe is a good fit, ask these questions:

  • For how many hours was the truck operated? A truck operated for more than 1,500 hours per year should carry a reduced price.
  • For how many years was the forklift leased? A truck leased for a longer period should carry a reduced price.
    Rental forklifts generally carry fewer hours of use and are therefore a more valuable buy. However, they can cost up to 15 percent more than trade-in trucks.

2. Evaluate Maintenance Records

Look for any signs of physical deterioration or replacement needs. Evaluate the forklift’s maintenance records thoroughly.

3. Inspect the Forklift

Inspection Points:

  • Test mast with/without maximum load to see binding and smooth operation. Look for excessive play between mast channels and between the mast and carriage.
  • Test the attachment to ensure proper functionality.
  • Watch out for leaks from the tilt, mast cylinders, differential, transmission, radiator, and engine. Assess leak repair costs.
  • Evaluate the brakes on maximum load. The forklift should stop within 1-2 truck lengths while travelling up to 5 MPH.

4. Test Drive

Before test driving the forklift, assess its physical appearance such as gouged panels, tire wear and uneven tread.
During the road test, drive the truck through a figure-eight pattern while in reverse and forward gears. Watch out for inaccurate tracking and delayed response from the steering wheel.

Final Steps

If the forklift passes these tests, make sure you assess the truck for these 10 qualities and note any flaws for bargaining power:
1. Oil pressure is low
2. No radiator damage
3. No rust in engine coolant
4. Transmission fluid is not discolored
5. Carriage does not drift downward
6. Hydraulic control valves have no leaks
7. No excessive wear to the fork
8. Tight steer axle buckles
9. No cracks in the chassis
10. Truck features all safety equipment

If you have any other questions on forklift lemon assessments, give us a call today!

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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