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Forklifts & Powered Equipment

What to Look for When Buying a Used Forklift

Posted November 29, 2021

Buying used forklifts can be an affordable way to fulfill your material handling requirements, especially if you’re a small business. Used forklifts can offer the same level of productivity as newer models, especially when you already know the type of lift you’re looking for.

Just like buying a used car, there are several key things to look at before purchasing a used forklift. Check out a few considerations to keep in mind below.


Forklift Age

Forklifts that are at least five years old will yield the best value if you’re trying to save money. With a newer forklift, you could end up paying close to the original value. An older lift could have some issues. Be sure to ask for maintenance records, inspect, and test the forklift if you’re looking into one that’s over five years old.


Visual Inspection

Getting a visual inspection of your forklift is always recommended, especially if you’re buying online. Don’t rely on just the seller’s images and description, make sure you take a look in person before making the purchase. Inspect for damage, rust, and anything that could indicate an underlying fault, like cracks or fluid leaks.


Take It for a Test Drive

Ensure the controls and safety devices are in working order by taking the lift on a test drive.
Check to make sure the operator’s seat is secure and the seatbelt is in working condition. Test the responsiveness of the lift by steering and braking in a stop-and-go fashion, both normally and in reverse.

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Total Hours Used

Similar to the used car buying experience, a used lift’s hours can be a good indicator of wear and tear. More hours mean there may be more issues with the motor. Many forklift models track the key and usage hours right on the dashboard.

Key hours indicate how many times the lift has been turned on. This number isn’t a great indicator of the usage since the forklift could’ve been idle and many parts of the machine are not in use.

Usage hours will provide you with a more accurate description of the use. By multiplying the hours a day it was used by how many days a week it was used and how many weeks it was used (i.e. [4] hours a day x [5] days a week x used [52] weeks per year = 1,040 hours of use per year), you’ll get a better read on how many hours the forklift has been in use.


Check the Battery

If you’re opting for an electric forklift, the battery accounts for more than 40% of the total value. Visually inspect the battery and check that there’s plenty of mileage in the battery. The average forklift battery will last about 1200 charges and each charge will provide about five hours of run time. Dividing the number of clocked hours by 5 should give you an estimate of how many charges are left the battery has left.

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Knowing how long the warranty period lasts and what it covers is crucial when you’re buying a secondhand lift. If your lift is sold within the manufacturer’s warranty, make sure the seller transfers it over. In some cases, the warranty can be exempted upon resale.

Have more questions on what to look for when buying a used forklift? We can help.

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