Anytime you buy anything secondhand, you want to make sure you’re thoroughly informed and know exactly what to look for. This is especially important if you’re looking to buy secondhand machinery like forklifts. While the up-front cost savings may be attractive, ongoing repair and maintenance issues can quickly erase those up-front savings. And then there are the potential safety issues associated with purchasing used machinery.
That said, buying a second hand forklift can save you some serious money while still giving you a top quality machine. Regardless of whether you’re looking at a Toyota forklift for sale or a Crown, Manitou, Clarke or any other brand you need to make sure you’re getting a machine in the best possible condition. To help you make the most informed purchase, we have a list of things to look for when buying a used forklift.
Forks and Mast
Starting from the front of the forklift, you should check the forks for bends, cracks or other significant damage. Cosmetic or surface damage to the forks is to be expected. But any serious damage can weaken the structural integrity of the forks, meaning they may not be able to support a maximum load.
You also need to check the fork heels. The fork heel connects the forks to the fork shank (the vertical section of the fork that’s connected to the mast). It’s essential that the thickness of heel forks match closely with the thickness of the fork shank, since this is a major part of a forklift’s lifting integrity.
Mast Channels, Chains and Cylinders
The forklift mast is responsible for raising and lowering the forks and so must be in pristine condition. There should be no damage, cracks, welding, bending or distortion in the mast mast channels. Any damage to the channels can affect the structural integrity of the mast and present a serious safety hazard.
Check the hydraulic cylinders for any leaks. However, remember that light lubrication through the mast is normal.
The mast rollers should all be round. An oval shape to any of the rollers is a sign of major wear.
Finally check the condition of the chains. There should be no missing or damaged anchor pins or links.
Operator Compartment External
The framing around the outside of the operator compartment is vital for ensuring the safety of the forklift operator. It needs to be strong enough to withstand heavy loads falling on it or even the forklift tipping over.
Check for any bending or structural damage to the frame. Also check for any welding or other signs of repair to the frame. If you find any, you should walk away immediately. Repairs to the frame means the structural integrity has been compromised and there’s no guarantee that it will keep the operator safe in case of an accident.
For enclosed cabins, check that all the windows are secure and in good condition.
Controls and General Operation
Once inside check the working condition of all gauges, controls and safety features. Make sure there’s no damage to the seat or seat belt. Any damage to the seat can restrict operator movement and may be a safety hazard.
Start up the forklift and check the drive, steering and brakes are all working smoothly. Check the hydraulic controls and make sure all mast functions are also working smoothly. Try lifting a few loads to check the lifting capacity.
After a thorough test drive you should have a good indication of the operational capabilities. However, you should still check inside the engine compartment. Look for any obvious damage, fluid leaks, cracks or clear signs of wear. Check the fluid levels and the condition of components like belts, air filters, battery connections and so on. Different mechanical checks are recommended depending on whether the forklift is petrol, diesel, LPG or electric. For real peace of mind, have your second hand forklift inspected by a professional forklift mechanic.
Other components worth checking include the tyres, headlights, safety lights and sirens, paint condition, and body plastics. And you should also check for any signs of rust. You can also have a look on the Simple Guide to Forklift Maintenance
Once you’ve carried out all these checks, you should be able to buy with confidence. Remember, the safety of your forklift operator and those around the forklift should be your primary concern. For detailed information about forklift safety, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website.