Evaluating a Used Forklift for Purchase

We have discussed in previous blogs the advantages of purchasing used forklifts as a way

(Courtesy: USS George Washington on flickr.com)

(Courtesy: USS George Washington on flickr.com)

to fill in a forklift fleet or to serve as a bridge before buying new forklifts. Just like buying a used car, there are certain things a person in the market for a used forklift should consider. They include:

· Incorrect Forklift Hour Meter Readings
· Wrong Year-of-Manufacture
· Inadequate Capacity Plate Information
· Unapproved Modifications to the Chassis
· Forklift’s Work History

Do not ignore these issues when inspecting a used forklift for possible purchase. After checking the exterior of the lift and the lift’s components for damage, you need to ascertain the truth about how the forklift has been used during the years. A proper reading of meters and capacity plate as well as some questions concerning the work history of the lift are essential elements in uncovering a good, working used forklift.

Just about all forklifts have an hour meter so that the user can monitor the daily usage. Some of the meters display five digits (00000) and some exhibit four digits (0000). When a four-digit meter reads 9999 hours and an additional 2,000 more hours are added, then the meter will read 1,999 hours. That’s because at the 10,000-hour mark, the meter will actually read 0000. Such a reading could be misleading for someone who is trying to determine the true work hours of the machine. To confirm the true work hours of the lift, ask for the forklift’s history or past records. If this information is not available, go on to the next lift.

Another thing to consider when inspecting the work hour meter is that it may record different elements of a forklift usage. For example, it may be offering drive hours, hydraulic pump hours or some other variable for measuring work time. So ask the dealer who is selling the lift how to interpret the work hour number displayed on the meter.

Another concern is that the work hour meter may have been unhooked or it has stopped working properly. In this case, the lift you are inspecting may actually have many more hours than what is displayed on the meter. Keep in mind that when the hour meter is replaced, the new meter is going to read 0000. Again, ask the dealer for the history or records of the forklift so that you can determine the true hours worked. If there are no records, go on to the next lift.

It is also not unusual for the year of manufacture of a used forklift can be confused or not provided. Try to verify the manufactured date using the model number and serial number of the truck. Don’t settle for what is written on an invoice.

Every forklift has a capacity data plate. The plate is supposed to offer information of manufacturer authorized additions or modifications to the forklift. This would include forklift attachments or accessories either added or removed. Modifications may have been performed on a used forklift without the approval of the manufacturer. These changes may not be reflected on the plate. So a person who inspects this lift may not get a true indication of what was done to the lift and what it can handle safely. So, again, it is imperative to ask the dealer for a record or history of the lift you are inspecting.

There have been occasions when the former owner of a forklift modified the chassis without the authorization of the lift’s manufacturer. So it is paramount that you inspect the chassis of a used lift you may be considering purchasing to determine if any modifications were performed, then check the capacity data plate to confirm that the manufacturer approved the change. If not, go on to the next forklift. Remember, an unauthorized modification to the forklift chassis will affect the structural integrity of the lift. There have also been occasions when a former owner of a forklift added counterweights to the lift without authorization of a manufacturer. This can cause a forklift to be unstable during operation and cause unnecessary wear and tear to the chassis.

Finally, another reason why it is imperative that you see a documented history or record of the forklift is that you will not know where the lift performed its duties with a simple inspection. Forklifts that have been used in fish processing, foundry or stevedore activity have experienced a tough life. The hour meter reading may not truly reflect the wear and tear on the machine.

Have a mechanical assessment and safety inspection of the used forklift you may purchase to assure the quality of the machine. Someone other than the dealer where you expect to buy the used lift should perform the inspection.

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