Forklift Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them


Forklift parts that can cause troubleshooting issues include the radiator, starter, thermostat, hoses and lines, and the battery. (Courtesy: Karl

Forklift parts that can cause troubleshooting issues include the radiator, starter, thermostat, hoses and lines, and the battery.
(Courtesy: Karl

Just like any moving vehicle with moving parts a forklift will encounter a number of problems that require troubleshooting and fixing. The most common issues include overheating engine, thermostat problems, poor lift performance, forklift starting problems, and starter trouble.

You need a little basic knowledge about how your forklift operates to check these problems out and do what needs to be done to fix it. Here are suggestions on how to handle each of the problems listed.

Overheating Engine

A number of things can be happening to cause a forklift engine to overheat. However, the most common problem is radiator blockage.

Over time it is possible that dirt and debris can collect that blocks the ports of the radiator resulting in overheating. When troubleshooting the problem look to see if there is caked on mud or dirt lodged in the radiator ports. If there is, gently clean out the debris with fresh water. Take care not to damage the radiator fins during the process. After the cleaning, start the engine and see if the overheating re-occurs. If it does, then it is possible that there is corrosion in the radiator preventing it from working properly. Check the radiator and if your observation confirms the problem, then simply replace the radiator.


The thermostat is a part that is supposed to prevent the engine from overheating. It should open when the triggering temperature is sensed, thus allowing coolant into the engine. Check to see if the thermostat is working properly. If it is not, replace it

Poor Lift Performance

If the forklift seems to lack the ability to handle common tasks, then it is possible that there is a hydraulic issue. Usually the problem occurs due to a leak, a crack, or a damaged hose. To troubleshoot, take a clean cloth and rub it down the hoses and lines. If there is a leak, then the cloth or line will have hydraulic fluid residue. This could indicate that the hose is cracked and needs to be replaced. If there is no residue on the cloth, then pass it along the rods to check if there is more than just a thin coat of oil. If there is a lot of collected oil, the seals most likely have leaks and need to be replaced.

Forklift Won’t Start

If this occurs, then the first thing you need to check out is the battery. Make certain that it is connected properly in the forklift and that there is no corrosion on the battery casing or terminals. If things appear to be okay, perform a battery function capacity test. If the battery is operating at less than 80 percent of what is should be, then replace it. If that is not the issue and the battery overheats when you attempt to charge it, then it could be working at a low electrolyte level. In that case, just add water.

The Starter

If the forklift does not start and the battery is not the problem, then the culprit is the starter and it needs to be replaced. The starter can also be identified as the possible problem if you can start the forklift, but the engine dies out soon after.

Keep in mind that you will need to perform regular maintenance and parts replacements to ensure that the lift performs efficiently.

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