Forklift Tires

Pneumatic forklift tire (Courtesy: Maxim Tires at flickr.com)

Pneumatic forklift tire
(Courtesy: Maxim Tires at flickr.com)

Selecting the proper forklift tires is one chore that should be taken very seriously. The key to making the proper choice is understanding the forklift and the environment in which it is used.

There are three types of forklift tires available for forklift use –- pneumatic, solid rubber, and polyurethane. What tire to select comes down to whether the lift is used indoors, outdoors, or a combination of the two.

The pneumatic tire is made of thick rubber and features deep tread. They are filled with air and appear very similar to tires one would find on heavy-duty trucks. Strong, durable and very tough, the tires are used mostly outdoors, are designed to handle rough terrain, and are best for extending the life of the forklift.

The air in the tires provides an ideal cushion between the forklift and the ground and assists the lift to handle the jarring caused by rough surfaces. However, this type of tire is susceptible to puncture or blow out and heavy loads make blowouts more likely. So these tires can also be filled with liquid polyurethane foam instead of air for heavy-duty applications. Turning radius requires a large amount of space and they permit greater capacity than the other tires.

Advantages include the ability to absorb shock and perform well on uneven or bumpy terrain, it can be used off-road, and it is quiet due to the soft rubber tread and shock absorbing ability.

Disadvantages include the use of more force to start motion because of the air filled tires, harder to swivel wheels and a longer swivel lead of the caster because of a large footprint and increase maintenance due to monitoring of air pressure because the tires can puncture.

Solid rubber tires are made of solid rubber constructed around a metal band and are not filled with air. Sometimes called cushion tires because they offer a cushion of solid tire between the load and the surface, they can be used indoors or outdoors and are not designed for long-term use on rough terrain. The tire cannot be punctured or deflated and the tires will last a long time. They ride stiff and are less comfortable for the forklift driver, they have a good turning radius, and they require a smooth surface. Solid tires outlast pneumatic tires by two to three times.

Polyurethane tires are very popular for indoor applications and are ideal for electric forklifts. They feature very little tread and offer great traction on concrete floors. They last longer than solid rubber or pneumatic tires if used only indoors. They last longer due to their low level of rolling resistance and are pressed on to the forklift, so they are simple to install. They should not be used on rough terrain. Turning radius is best on this type of tire and it operates best on a smooth surface.

Advantages include greater wearability and sound deadening due to thicker polyurethane material.

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