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Should I replace my forklift transmission?

A forklift is an essential piece of equipment and you want to keep it running as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. The transmission is a vital component of any forklift’s ability to work reliably, so making sure it’s in the best condition possible, is always going to be in your interest.

A transmission replacement for any vehicle has the potential to be a costly process, and with forklifts it’s no different. So, you’re going to need to establish the right course of action for the current state of your transmission, determining whether repair or replacement is the best solution for you.


Signs your forklift transmission needs attention

Though the application is obviously different, looking out for problems with the transmission of your forklift is no less important than checking the state of the transmission on your car or van. The first and most obvious determination is how easily it goes into the selected direction. This is particularly obvious if you’ve been operating the forklift for a long time because you’ll have a baseline of how it was when it was new to compare it to.

Bring the forklift up to proper operating temperature then select through forward and reverse as you normally would in any working day. A properly working transmission should be completely devoid of any slop or vagueness in the way it operates. If the machine is older, then naturally the transmission will experience some wear, but you will know intuitively if something is not right.

Listen out as best you can for any untoward noises either when you’re choosing a gear or when the forklift is changing gear. This can be a variety of things from hisses, creaks, rattles, clangs, and any sound of metal on metal. A transmission should operate fluidly; if you’re hearing a din every time you put the forklift into gear, then it’s time to reach out to your service provider.

When you’re operating the forklift, pay attention to how it drives. Are you experiencing any sudden judders when you change direction ? That can be a tell-tale sign that the transmission is becoming worn and will need attention sooner or later. Transmission fluid can also be a good indicator: If the fluid is becoming contaminated with sludge or metal filings, or more importantly transmission fluid should be pink, if it is black or doesn’t smell of oil, warning bells should be ringing.

It’s also important to remember if you have any doubt of the condition of the forklift’s transmission, don’t keep working it! The more work the vehicle has to do, the greater the state of disrepair the transmission will be in, which runs the risk of damaging other essential engine components. So, if you’ve any doubt, park the forklift out of the way until you can get it properly inspected.

forklift transmission

Transmission replacement; cost versus benefit

It’s difficult to put an average cost on a replacement transmission because there are so many variables involved.

It depends on the make and model of your forklift, how difficult it is to access and work on the transmission, whether you opt for new or used, the labour charges, and any other difficulties in installation. A used transmission unit can cost you a few thousand pounds, but there will be no guarantee of the life you’ll get out of it compared to a new unit straight from the manufacturer.

It’s safe to presume that you cannot replace a forklift transmission “cheaply”. It’s almost certainly going to run into early thousands rather than hundreds of pounds. While that may seem painful, the reality is that it’s a necessary investment in the continued life of the vehicle.

Consider how much it costs to purchase a new forklift. Depending on your needs it can be an expensive proposition, and not one that should be undertaken lightly. If your current forklift is in otherwise good condition, then replacement of the transmission can deliver many more years of useful service.

A replacement transmission will come straight from the manufacturer with all of the necessary quality assurances, which means, provided it’s not worked too hard, is serviced properly, and has regular replacement fluid, and filter, that it should last you for several years, which offsets the need to invest in a whole new forklift.

A replacement transmission can also improve workflow, efficiency, and operator satisfaction. A poorly operating transmission can seriously hamper the speed at which cargo can be both loaded and transported.

Arguably the biggest consideration is safety. Take for example a fully loaded forklift accidentally lurching forward while carrying a load. As the vehicle stops, the momentum will carry the load forward and cause it to spill, at best damaging the cargo and at worst causing employee injury.

For more friendly, helpful advice on whether you should replace your forklift transmission, contact Solution MHE today.

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