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How to keep your forklift in top condition

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How to keep your forklift in top condition

A forklift breakdown can prove very costly as work grinds to a halt while repairs are conducted, costing you time and money. Below is a handy guide to help you avoid unnecessary breakdowns and keep your machine well looked after and maintained between services.


Safety first

Maintenance of your forklift and safe operating procedures go hand in hand. In fact, by paying close attention to safety guidelines, you’ll be keeping a close eye on the maintenance of your machine and spotting any potential problems before they become a major breakdown.

Forklifts should be inspected every day before they are used by operators. The following checks only take a few minutes to perform and ensure the health of your machine and the safety of employees.


Inspection checks

Ensure forklift is turned off while inspection checks are performed.

Check fuel, water, and hydraulic levels

Look for and report any visible damage

Check pressure and overall condition of tyres

Inspect condition of forks

Ensure the driver compartment is free from any rubbish and debris that could interfere with operating the machine safely

Ensure all safety devices, seat belt etc, are working properly


Battery powered forklifts

Check cables are not frayed or damaged

Check battery is secure

Ensure electrolytes are at acceptable levels

Make sure hood latch is securely closed


Diesel/ engine powered forklifts

Check engine’s coolant and oil levels

Check brake fluid level

Ensure all belts and hoses are in acceptable condition

Ensure air filter and radiator are in good condition

Make sure hood latch is securely closed


Gas powered forklifts

Make sure the gas tank is securely mounted

Inspect the tank for any leaks or damage

Make sure the pressure relief valve is pointed up

Ensure all belts and hoses are in acceptable condition


Driving checks

Ensure forklift brakes, steering and accelerator are all working correctly

Check gears are functioning properly

Ensure lift is fully operational

Check that the lights, horn, and backup alarm are all working


Create a forklift maintenance schedule

After making these daily safety and maintenance checks part of your daily routine, you can put together a maintenance schedule. A schedule to maintain your forklift is important to keep your forklift fully functional and will benefit your company’s profit margin going forward.


Assess your forklift

The first step you should take is to consider your individual forklift and how it is used in the workplace.

How old is your forklift?

If you’re using an older machine, it may require more regular maintenance.

Has your forklift been regularly serviced?

If your machine hasn’t been regularly serviced in the past, this may affect how often it needs to be maintained.

Is your forklift vulnerable to damage?

If your machine is likely to suffer alignment problems or accidents, you may want to carry out additional maintenance checks.


Create a maintenance plan

Carrying out regular maintenance of your machine can save thousands for your company over the working life of your forklift. While the type of maintenance required will depend on your individual machine, below is a list of regular checks to get you started on building your machine maintenance plan.


Monthly maintenance

Change the oil
Clean the air filter
Ensure chassis and mast components are lubricated
Check lift and tilt cylinder
Inspect tension of the drive belt
Check spark plugs


Maintenance every three months

Inspect handbrake and pedal movement
Inspect elements of mast including rollers, the tension of the lift chain, and full range of movement
Check hydraulic pump
Inspect PCV valve, transmission oil levels, and hoses
Ensure radiator is clean
Change the fuel filter and hydraulic filter if required
Drain water separator on diesel forklifts


Maintenance every six months

Check brake boost is operating correctly
Ensure engine and manifold bolts are secure
Change brake fluid
Change engine coolant
Grease wheel bearings
Change of filters and fuel etc if required


More tips to take care of your forklift

Trained operators

Most damage to forklifts occurs from human error, so ensure your operators are trained and know how to properly use your forklift.


Check your tyres

Make sure you check your tyres regularly. New tyres are much cheaper than paying for stock that has been damaged because your forklift’s stopping distance was compromised by worn tyres. Worn tyres also greatly increase your fuel costs.


Tidy workspace

Make sure your operating area is tidy and there’s plenty of space for your forklift to manoeuvre, with agreed right of way protocols where several vehicles are operating. By preventing accidents, you won’t have any unexpected repair and maintenance costs.


Make sure your forklift is clean

Ensure that your forklift is regularly cleaned. This way, you can properly inspect your forklift for any damage and ensure that your forks don’t get clogged with dirt or grease that affects their operational movement.

By properly maintaining your forklift between services, you greatly reduce the risk of a breakdown and secure the safety of your workplace. By making sure regular checks are carried out and your machine is looked after, you don’t have to worry about unexpected repair bills or damaged stock due to accidents caused by poorly maintained machines, saving your company time and money.

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