You probably have heard of Carfax, which provides the history on any pre-owned car before you buy. But, what do you do when buying a used forklift? How do you make a smart purchase you won’t regret?
There are ways to gain valuable insight into the history of any lift-truck before you buy it, and it should be an important part of your purchasing decision.
Deciding to buy new or used
Forklifts are a huge investment, and, naturally, you can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a used truck versus a new one. For example, purchasing a brand-new electric warehouse forklift with standard capacity will run you about $15,000-$25,000 in today's market. On the other hand, a well-refurbished, used electric forklift with a 3,000-pound capacity will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
In certain material-handling situations, a used forklift will serve its purpose and make better fiscal sense for the enterprise.
Purchasing a used forklift can be difficult, though — and costly — if you don't ask the right questions beforehand.
Consider buying a used forklift if:
- the forklift will be used only for a single shift
- it will be used for no more than five hours a day
- it will work no more than five days per week
- the operation is not a high-throughput, nonstop type
Buying a used forklift — do hours matter?
When buying any used vehicle, the hours the truck has logged and how well it was maintained and repaired matter.
Here’s what to look at:
Be sure to evaluate the condition of the forklift. If a telematics system was used, ask for usage reports, maintenance records, safety checklists, and impact reports. This information will show a history of how a vehicle has been maintained.
Typically, facilities keep engine-powered vehicles for seven years before trading them in, and electric-powered vehicles are normally kept for eight to ten years. Both types average 1,500 hours per year for a single-shift operation.
Make sure a mechanic completes a 14-point, in-depth inspection checklist. Check for mast operation, both with a full-rated load and without a load. Look for any sign of leaks from the transmission, differential, mast and tilt cylinders, engine, and radiator. Remember, even a small leak could mean potential problems.
- Test drive
Take the lift for a test drive. Drive it in a tight figure eight, both forward and backward. It should have a quick response to the steering wheel and accurate tracking. Check the tires. If they have not been replaced recently, look for uneven wear, which can indicate axle misalignment.
Telematic data can provide the “forklift facts” you need
When purchasing a used forklift, ask if a telematics system was used throughout its lifecycle and ask to see it.
Telematic data can provide a history and information in the following areas:
- Utilization Reports – data on the number of hours the forklift has been used
- Maintenance Report Cards – data on safety checklists, severe impacts, speed infractions, and total activity
- Battery Monitoring – data on the forklift battery usage and patterns
With advanced telematics, you can learn the history and facts about a forklift before you buy it. Since proper use, maintenance and repairs are what extends the life of fleet vehicles, making data-based decisions when you buy could save money and unexpected downtime for repairs.