Forklifts are the workhorses of the material handling industry. A quality forklift is built to last a long time, but unfortunately, they don’t last forever. Most equipment owners want to get the most of their equipment, so how do you find the sweet spot in between retiring a forklift too soon or waiting too long?  

Gather the data 

There are several things to consider before you decide to replace a piece of expensive equipment. To make sure you make a well-informed decision, gather the following information. 

  • The age of the forklift
  • The forklift brand’s estimated life expectancy/hours of operation
  • The current hours of use 
  • The current and past type of application 
  • Maintenance logs to determine frequency and type of repairs 

Ask your forklift operator 

Your forklift operator will most likely be the first person to notice signs of wear and tear. Ask them to be on the lookout for any of these issues. 

  • Signs of cracks and other distortions anywhere on the forklift 
  • Wear and tear on the fork blades 
  • Wires that are worn, broken or exposed 
  • A sluggish engine or transmission  

General questions to keep in mind   

As a forklift owner, here are a few questions task yourself to determine if it’s time to replace your forklift. 

  • Is your forklift out for repairs more than usual? Unless it’s planned downtime, if your forklift is out for repairs, you’re probably losing time and money.  
  • Have you exceeded the recommended hours of operation? Well-built forklifts have a lifespan between 10,000 and 20,000 work hours. If you’re past the limit, you’re playing roulette with unplanned downtime. 
  • Is your forklift used in extreme applications or temperatures? It’s important to understand anything beyond normal use will cause a forklift to age faster.
  • Is your engine or transmission going bad? It can cost thousands of dollars to repair a failing engine or transmission. Do the math before you spend the money on repairs. Your budget might be spent better on a new lift truck with the latest technology.  

Our best advice is to start this process well before you need a new forklift. A planned purchase where you budget and research before you buy an expensive piece of material handling equipment is ideal. A surprise last-minute purchase when you find out your forklift broke down during your busiest season is not.  

Need help figuring out if it’s the right time to replace your forklift or forklift fleet? Let us help. Click here to contact us today.  

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