Dealing With the Forklift Will-Nots

As a forklift operator, there have no doubt been times when your forklift will not do something. For example, it will not:

• Start
• Idle
• Shutdown
• Lift
• Charge

It is a machine after all, and machines break down every once in a while. Still, when a “will not” issue arises, it is essential to deal with it as soon as possible to minimize down time that adversely affects productivity.

Navy personnel perform forklift maintenance aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.
(Courtesy: U.S. Pacific Fleet at

So, let’s explore each issue and see how to deal with it.

Forklift Will Not Start

One issue that may cause a forklift not to start concerns the fuel. In the case of electric forklifts, the first question you need to answer is: “When was the last time the battery of the lift was charged?” There are occasions when the lift’s battery had been recently charged, but problems still occurred. There are many reasons why the charging process is interrupted. For example, there may have been a short circuit or a sulfate issue with the battery.

If the lift had not been charged for a while, then the odds are it needs another charge. However, if you are experiencing a starting problem and the lift had recently been charged, then the issue could be a cell of the battery. It may need to be replaced.

For internal combustion forklifts, the first issue to explore if it doesn’t start is the fuel itself. If the lift had not been used recently, then it is possible that the fuel has gone stale. If that were the case, you’d smell a very potent odor.

If that’s not the case, check other fluids, the transmission valves for debris blockage or leaks.

Other problems that could prevent the lift from starting include an emergency power switch that has been turned on, a cold engine, or a seat switch that requires a certain amount of weight to activate. The seat switch is designed to assure that a child can’t operate a lift.

Forklift Will Not Idle

Some forklifts have an idle air control valve or an idle speed control valve located at the bottom of the throttle. Check to see if the valve is damaged, if fuel is leaking or if there is debris in the fuel system that is causing a blockage. If after inspection, and any one of these issues is not the culprit, then check the transmission. If the transmission is the problem, it is advised that you seek professional assistance to identify the actual problem.

Forklift Will Not Go Into Gear

Check the transmission fluid levels and the brake isolator valve at the top of the transmission. Pressure in the brake lines can prevent motion forward or backward and also affect transmission changes. The pool in the valve on top of the transmission allows the emission of fluid pressure when the forklift moves forward or backward. If this is the problem, it is advised that you seek professional assistance.

Forklift Will Not Shutdown

The culprit that may be causing this problem could be the ignition. It is advised that you seek assistance from a professional electrician. Another possible culprit is the emergency shutoff switch, which is separate from the ignition.

Forklift Will Not Lift

If you are an experienced forklift driver, then you are probably aware that this is a common issue. The mast of the lift, a mechanism that performs this task, may not be working. If that is the case, then the problem may be with the hydraulics. Check the hydraulics fluid. If you discover that this is not the problem, then check for oil leaks. Usually, oil leaks occur in the tilt cylinder. If this is the case, a professional has the skills to find the leak and deal with it. A mast that does not function properly can cause downtime for the lift and could even result in damage to products. So the issue should be repaired as soon as possible.

Forklift Will Not Charge

When this occurs, then the probable remedy is to replace the battery. However, there are things you can do to prevent this from happening in the first place. For example, if the battery is short-circuiting, then you should replace the faulty cell with a single-charged cell. If a sulfate issue is occurring due to constant charging and discharging of the battery or the presence of impurities are causing excessive discharging, then stop the activities. This will extend battery life. If it can’t be resolved, then you may have to replace the cell.

Many of these problems could be avoided if you perform regular maintenance.

(Source: intellaliftparts)

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