Should I Buy Used Forklifts? Part I

(Courtesy: Bob Blaylock at

(Courtesy: Bob Blaylock at

Whenever you are considering the purchase of a new item like a car, television, computer, etc. you also have the alternative of buying a used version of the item. The same is true with forklifts. However, just as in the case of buying a used version of say a car, you don’t want to be stuck with a lemon.

If you might be considering the purchase of used forklifts either to fill in your fleet or replace some lifts you already have, then you need to first consider the pros and cons.

That calls for you to pick up a legal pad, draw a line down the middle of the page and write above the first column “pro” and above the second column “con,” then start making your lists.

The pro side list will probably look something like this:

· Small budget
· Elimination of a large depreciation expense as compared to buying new forklifts.
· Good replacement parts availability.
· A larger assortment of lifts to compare and choose from.
· Lower cost.
· Elimination of lease or rental payments.

However, for every pro reason there is a con. This is how the con side of your pro or con list may look like:

· Not new
· Lifts will look worn and old.
· Lifts will not include the newest features and attachments.
· They won’t be as safe as the new version.
· The lifts would be more susceptible to breakdown.
· The warranty may have lapsed.
· Repair costs may be more.

Once you have settled on your pro or con list, it’s time to do a little thinking. Which out ways the other as far as your own unique business situation is concerned?

If you decide that it is cost effective and reasonable to go with used lifts, then the next thing you need to do is some research. You need to learn or consider the basics about forklifts in general and the current used-forklift market in particular. You can find appropriate articles to read that will help you with the decision by searching the Internet.

Next, you need to determine certain necessities the forklift must satisfy including:

· Budget
· Size
· Usage

When considering the budget, be honest.

When determining size consider whether you intend for the lifts to work in or outdoors. If you plan for them to be used indoors, then used electric forklifts should suffice. Also consider the size of the aisles of your warehouse, the average size and weight of the load you expect the lifts to be carrying, and the height the lift has to achieve to load.

Determining how the lifts are used should consider the number of employees who will work the lifts and how much time the lifts will be used. For example, low use means that you can assume that one or two employees operate the lifts about three to four hours a week. Experts say that under these conditions, you can acquire lifts that are 11 to 12 years old. These lifts have probably been used between 15,000 and 20,000 hours and will probably last for about six to eight years.

Medium use means that the lifts were used three to five hours a day. In this case, units that had been formerly rented could suffice. These lifts probably would have been well maintained and serviced regularly. The lift should be about five to six years old. That means they probably have been operated between 8,000 to 15,000 hours.

High use means that the lifts are being used between seven hours and more than 10 hours a day. In this case, experts suggest that you buy new forklifts or lease a fully maintained unit or units for about five years.

Once you have determined the perimeters of what you need in a used forklift, then you can check on the Internet or in classified ads for a machine that meets the needs. You can also seek advice from a forklift provider from whom you can buy the machines.

When you go out to explore the market be sure that you have noted the price you expect to pay and the capacity, mast type, lift and collapse height, tire type, and attachments of the forklift for which you are searching.

(Next time: Inspecting the forklift before purchasing)

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