When selecting a used forklift, many buyers concern yourself with getting stuck with a lemon. It’s unfamiliar territory, nearly everyone understands what to look for in a vehicle, but how about a forklift? It’s an expensive purchase you need to be reliable for years to come. The following is a fundamental checklist you ought to try to find when looking for a used forklift.

Take note: This short article covers physical inspection of forklift used. For guidance on deciding on a forklift size and kind, please see this short article.

First look

It was once a chore, the need to drive from one factory to another (often widely spaced in several suburbs). Now obviously we now have the net to assist. Most forklift sellers now have a web site (just like this one!), and being able to see ahead of time what sort of units can be found is really a massive way to save time. When checking websites, it’s still a great idea to ring the retailer and check there are no unlisted forklifts, often we sell forklifts before they may be on the site.

When checking forklifts online it can be difficult to view details but you need to look for the following:

Clean paintwork

No obvious impact damage (scrapes and scratches are ok)

Minimal or no rust

Tyres that aren’t broken down

At your location inspection

Since you now have selected a few retailers or units to check out, make and appointment and go take a peek. Here is where you may really get a full glance at the used forklift involved. When you are shopping using a low budget under consideration, you will have to make allowances for the unit that will not meet all of these criteria, but try to find any problems and ask the salesman specifically when they can be fixed prior to purchase, especially stuff that might develop into a safety hazard or stop the machine from working.

Your Checklist

Please keep in mind that this is a guide only, and dependant upon the age and price of your unit, you might want to compromise. What is important would be to A:Get good value for money and B:Get yourself a reliable forklift


Seek out new paint or paint in excellent condition, preferably with decals (better resale value) and warning stickers (for operator safety). Scratching and scrapes are ok, extensive rust, overspray from bad repainting and large dints are certainly not. Check plastics (if any) for cracks or splits.


Open the bonnet and commence the engine. It ought to start easily and idle smoothly (it will be more noisy compared to a car). Look above and below for engine (black) oil leaks. Check starter motor fires rapidly. Rev engine hard in neutral and look tailpipe once warm for blue or black smoke. Exhaust should be minimal if LPG, and totally free of excessive odour.

Lifting Gear

Raise Carriage to full height (move forklift outdoors if necessary). Check lifting speed is steady and constant. Rev engine to increase lift speed then run in idle to make certain it is constantly raise. Tilt back and forward at full extension, engine should not stall. Shims in tilt mechanism must not move an excessive amount of, carriage really should not be sloppy. Drop down, movement should be smooth and steady, all stages should transfer turn without jamming.


Check all visible hoses for leaks. Look underneath the forklift for greenish or golden hydraulic oil. Move mast to full tilt and look for leaks again while under pressure. Levers should move easily and operation should be smooth for all controls. For hydraulic drive forklifts (Linde), drive back and forward, operation should be fast and smooth.


Drive the used forklift around within a tight circle, backwards and forwards. Use brake, inch and accelerator to full extension, check seating position and controls are available.

Seat and Lights

Seat ought to be free from large rips and tears. Seatbelt (if component of original equipment), ought to be functional. Flashing light on roof should be working, other lights if fitted ought to be working but are not essential unless road use is necessary. Engaging reverse should trigger beeper or buzzer


All tyres ought to be evenly worn, with sufficient usage left about them. Solid and cushion tyres needs to be clear of major tears and damage, Solid tyres must have tread. Pneumatic tyres needs to have adequate air pressure

Fuel system

Diesel/Petrol: Check under tank for cracks. Examine fuel cap area for damage. Check fuel lines.

LPG: Examine tank connector for damage. Make certain seals work, no smell our sound should result from pipe. Check pipe for abrasions or marks. Check tank clips for damage, insert and take away tank to make sure it can be held firmly.


Tynes should be able to slide on carriage, but take place securely in position when clipped in, and never flop about. Check tynes on the used forklift for bending or excessive wear, especially in the ‘heel’ (bend) of your tynes

Battery (Electric only)

Inspect battery for missing caps or damaged leads. Any visible acid must be very small, no long term buildup. Check water system (if installed) for leaks. Turn on charger and make certain the system functions, check outlet plug for damage.

Notes on buying on the internet without having inspection

If you are living interstate through the used forklift in question or will be in a rural area, you may well be compelled to purchase over the internet. There is certainly nothing wrong with this particular approach, you just need to be 74dexmpky careful. When emailing a supplier, ask for extensive details and heaps of photos, especially close ups in the motor and mast/carriage. When possible show them into a friend or relative with mechanical knowledge. Check against other suppliers for price and condition of units exactly the same price. Inquire about warranty availability, it is almost always restricted for interstate purchasing but ensure that the salesman understands that you expect reliability and good shape and are ready to return the forklift when it doesn’t meet your expectations.