When Should You Replace Your Forklift Tires

For the last several weeks we have been developing a series of articles about forklift tires. So far, we have published four articles in the series.

An old, worn forklift tire compared to a brand new one.

An old, worn forklift tire (on left) and a brand new forklift tire (on right)
(Courtesy: Milton at flickr.com)

Part I discusses the types of forklift tires that are available.

In Part II we cover what forklift tires are made of and how to read tire sizes from the side of the tires.

In Part III we discussed how to select the right forklift tire.

In Part IV we focused on the longevity of forklift tires.

Part V focused on how to get the most out of your forklift tires.

In this article, Part VI, we will cover when you should replace your forklift tires.

Just as is the case with automotive tires, forklift tires should be replaced after a certain period of time in use. If you keep using the tires when they’re too worn, then you could experience reduced fuel efficiency, operator fatigue, or severe damage to the forklift.

Check Your Tires For Wear And Damage

Your regular maintenance program should be including a regular inspection of the lift’s tires. In fact, this should be done daily with a pre-operation inspection. You should be looking for wear or any kind of damage to the tread

Your visual inspection should focus on:

• The wear line
• Usage

The Wear Line

Also referred to as the safety line, the tire may actually show a wear line that many tire manufacturers include in the construction of the tire. Find the line, then determine if the rubber of the tire has been worn down to it. If this is the case, replace the tire.


When checking on the usage of the tire, there are five things on which to focus:

• Lettering
• Tread
• Chunking
• Flat spots
• Radial cracking
• Tire type


Inspect the sidewall of the tire and determine if it has been worn down to the top of the numbering or lettering. If so, replace it.


Just as you would do when inspecting your car’s tires, check for visible wear to the tread. A lot of wear will cause a reduction in the height of the tread. Over time of checking on a regular basis you will see that the tread will ultimately wear down to the point where the tire is bald. At this point, it should be replaced.


Your inspection routine should also be checking for the chunking of the tire. Chunking occurs due to repeated running over debris. Look for large pieces that are falling off the tire. This can result in a bumpy ride for the driver of the lift as well as increased fatigue.

Flat Spots

When you check your tires regularly over time you may notice flat spots. This is due to spin or aggressive braking and can result in an uncomfortable, uneven ride for the driver. Flat spots can be avoided by training the forklift driver on operating the lift under proper speeds and braking. If flat spots are found, replace the tire.

Radial Cracking

Radial cracking happens when heat concentrates inside the tire due to overloading the lift. If you continuously see radial cracking when inspecting forklift pneumatic or cushion tires, you may want to consider using a larger or wider tire that spreads the weight of the forklift load over more area. Heat concentration inside the tire could also be the result of traveling long distances with no weight on the forks. In these cases, the counterweight of the lift rests on the steer tires instead of being evenly distributed.

Tire Type

The type of tire being used has just as much affect on the condition of it over time then just plain wear and tear. There are a number of ways to determine if your tires need replacement due to their type.

The primary method to check whether cushion tires need to be replaced is referred to as the two-inch rule. If the tire has lost 2-inches or more from its original height, it should be replaced. The tire’s original height or outer diameter appears on the sidewall.

When measuring wear, think of the tire as a compass with the top being north and the bottom being south. Measure across the center of the tire from west to east. It is advised that you don’t measure from north to south because it may be distorted because the tire flattens under the weight of the forklift.

Take into account that the two-inch rule should be used only on cushion tires.

Other things to consider when ascertaining whether or not replacing cushion tires involve inspecting the area where the rubber of the tire meets the metal band. It’s possible that bond failure can occur. To detect this, try and stick a screwdriver or a knife into the area between the metal band and the rubber of the tire. If the areas are separated, then replace the tire.

Solid Pneumatic Tires

When you inspect solid pneumatic tires, there may not be a visual sign of damage. So it is advised that you consider the amount of wear. If the solid pneumatics tire has lost 75 to 80 percent of its original tread, then it should be replaced.

Polyurethane Tires

Perhaps the most common wear on polyurethane tires is radial cracking. If the tire shows signs of this, replace it.

Advantages To Replacing Forklift Tires When It’s Necessary

Determining whether it is necessary to replace a worn or damaged forklift tire is something that should not be ignored. Replacing an old, worn out tire with a brand new one assures that the forklift will experience less fuel consumption, maximize efficiency, increase traction, reduce shock assuring a smoother ride for the lift’s operator, and lower maintenance costs.

(Source: conger.com)

About Robert J