Guide to buying second-hand forklifts

Buying used forklifts is a great way for companies to affordably get the equipment that they need for various material handling requirements. But, as always, buying second-hand comes with risks that can potentially lead to unforeseen and unwanted costs in the longer run.

These tips will help guide you around the potential risks and pitfalls when buying used:

1. Ensure that the truck is suited to the application

Forklifts can vary hugely according to how exactly they are kitted out and depending on the model. Knowing what you need is vital so it’s important to consider what you’ll need it for. Will your forklift be used daily? Will you use it indoors or outdoors? What specific tasks will it perform? How heavy will the loads you use it for be?

A reputable dealer might ensure that the truck they provide is appropriate for your needs, sometimes even providing a site inspection and an expert opinion in consideration of the application that you’ll need the forklift for. This is vital to get right, as the safety of the forklift driver is your responsibility and the wrong equipment could lead to an incident.


second hand forklift trucks


2. Inspect the forklift for damage

Being able to identify rust, damage, or any cracks, repair welding and fluid leaks is an important part of ensuring the forklift is in the condition that you expect it to be in.

3. Have a test drive

Buying pre-owned forklifts is far more serious than purchasing a used car. They’re complex pieces of equipment which are covered by strict legislation and it’s seriously necessary to make sure that it works before you part with any cash. Either test it yourself, or get an operator to drive it, and ensure that all of the forklift’s functions work exactly as they should.

Many problems aren’t immediately obvious on a warm engine so you should ensure that the engine starts from cold, while your test should be conducted on a clean floor so that you can spot any tell-tale leaks from the hydraulics or transmission. It’s always best to be careful and thorough to give any potential problems the chance to present themselves.


forklift truck test drive

4. Check the warranty

A decent warranty is an important part of buying a used forklift. You should be aware of how long your warranty lasts for, what it covers, and, most significantly, what it doesn’t cover. If the forklift is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, then you should contact them to make sure that the warranty can be transferred to you – some can, while others are void after resale.

5. Make sure that the forklift is not a rogue import

There are increasing numbers of dodgy imported forklifts on the market and it’s important to avoid them. They’re far more difficult to source parts for and even harder to sell, and if an accident occurs on these forklifts then your insurance could even be invalidated.

Check the forklift for a genuine CE mark, and ensure that the operator manual and all labels are in the right language.

6. Buy from a reputable supplier

A way to be certain of the condition is to buy your second-hand forklifts from a trusted supplier, such as Hitec, who have been trading for decades. This ensures that the equipment is what it says it is and will carry no faults as a result of vigorous and honest testing. The reputation of such companies means that whatever monetary incentive there is to ‘cheat’ on these sales is gone and you can expect a high-quality piece of equipment that has been completely cleared for use.

7. Check the readings on the clock

While a car is often assessed on mileage, a second-hand forklift will tell a story through its operating hours. Experts say that a single hour of forklift use is equal to 30 miles on a car, so a reading of over 3000 hours means that it would be close to a comparative 100,000 miles for a car regarding wear and tear.

Clocks can, however, be fiddled by a dishonest dealer, so it’s good practice to check the clock reading against the forklift’s service history to ensure that they match up.

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