A GUIDE TO BUYING (OR HIRING) A FORKLIFT TRUCK

At Fork Truck Traders, we do not own any of the machines listed for sale, however we care passionately about purchasers buying right, and buying safe. Read below for a guide on how to approach purchasing, or hiring, a forklift truck.

 

1/ Supplier location

We would strongly suggest seeking to source a machine from a dealer near to where the machine will ultimately be situated and used. If you are planning on using the machine in Lands End, it is unlikely that a dealer based in John O’Groats will be able to offer you the aftermarket back up that you should expect.

 

2/ Make sure the machine is suitable for your usage application

Ideally, any supplier firm should offer to conduct a site survey to ensure suitability. Use the expertise of the forklift truck experts to your advantage. If this isn’t possible or practical, consider the following factors:

  • Power – do you require a diesel, gas or electric machine? Read our guide on forklift truck power here.
  • Is the machine going to be used indoors or outdoors? If it will be used solely outdoors, consider diesel or gas. If solely indoors, consider electric. If a combination of both, consider gas or electric.
  • What lifting capacity do you require? Ensure you purchase a truck that is not going to be operating beyond its safe working capabilities.
  • What turning circle do you require within your application? If the truck will operate within a warehouse environment, what are your aisle widths? Ensure the seller confirms the machine will operate within your limitations.
  • What lift height do you require? It’s a very basic point, but not one that should be assumed!
  • Do you require free lift? i.e. is it important to you that the truck will lift a load for transportation without the mast raising? This is essential if you plan to use the machine to load containers.
  • Do you have any height restrictions? Ensure the closed height of the mast of any truck will go through

 

3/ Conduct a visual inspection

A forklift truck lifts very heavy weights, to very high heights; as such they are potentially very dangerous pieces of equipment. Don’t purchase one without carrying out a visual inspection – unless you know the dealer selling the machine particularly well.

When you inspect it, ensure the truck starts easily and runs smoothly. Look to conduct test lifts, with appropriate weights. Ensure you extend the mast to its extremities, and also ensure the full functionality of any hydraulic functions such as sideshifts. Check for signs of any engine or hydraulic oil leaks.

If the truck is electric powered, look at the battery. What you are hoping to see is a battery where all of the individual cells are the same colour and height. You should also hope to see that all of the ‘posts’ on the top of the individual cells are a consistent height. If some are higher than others, or if the cells are different colours, it could be a sign of a battery that is nearing the end of its useful life. Bearing in mind a new battery could cost around £4,000, it is important you know what you are buying here.

 

4/ Check the hour meter reading

Whilst a car measures usage in miles, a forklift measures usage in hours. Typically, 1,000 hours per year is ‘standard usage.’

The rating plate is a legal requirement on any fork lift truck as it denotes the safe lifting capacity of the truck. Before purchase, ensure the truck will safely perform within your requirements. Importantly, factor in both lift height and load centres.
Don’t just focus on the cosmetic appearance of the truck. A quick re-paint can hide a multitude of sins, so, as tempting as it may be, don’t focus solely on the paintwork.

 

5/ Ensure you receive key documentation in writing

Given you will likely be spending several thousand pounds on any machine, it is vital that you understand the warranty that comes with your truck. Ensure you receive it in writing and that you are clear on what is included / excluded.
A good warranty is crucial when buying a second hand truck. It’s important that you know how long your warranty period lasts, what it covers and – significantly – what is excluded.

Legally, any truck that is over 12 months old needs to have an annual (or bi-annual if it is a man-up machine) Thorough Examination / LOLER certificate. Ensure you see the certificate before you purchase the truck. Remember, this is a LEGAL requirement, and something that you as the (soon to be) truck owner, is responsible for.

 

6/ Finally…

Always remember the old adage

‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!’.