5 Steps to Purchasing a Used Forklift


When it comes to deciding between purchasing a new or used forklift, most businesses will prefer the latter. As the National Forklift Exchange reports, investing in a used forklift is not only cost-effective, but also a great way to protect your forklift from suffering steep price depreciation. However, the downside to this investment is that not all used forklifts are in the same condition. Some are in better shapes than others. Not knowing what you are getting can take a big toll on your pocket. So before you write a check and take your new workhorse home, stop and carefully assess your options by going through the following five steps:

1. Inspect the Forklift in Person

With so many exchanges and sales taking place over the Internet, it is easy for buyers like you to believe that purchasing a used forklift takes no more than looking at the picture and reading the description of the forklift online. This is a dangerous assumption. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to get to know your forklift, and it means seeing, touching, and working with it in person. Additionally, with so many frauds going on in the world, it is better to err on the side of caution and not take the seller’s word as the final authority. If you find a forklift you like online, contact the seller and schedule a time to see it. 

2. Ask for Proof of Ownership 

Asking for proof of ownership is a great way to verify that you are engaging in an honest business transaction. Additionally, knowing that you are speaking with the owner will allow you to ask detailed questions about the history of the forklift. Excessive uncertainty expressed by the owner raises the red flag that the owner is either hiding something or has no personal experience with the truck. In either case, you are not going to get a comprehensive introduction to your forklift. When this happens, it is time to call it a day and move on to the next seller. 

3. Evaluate the Maintenance Record

The maintenance record helps you to see the true color of your forklift in black and white. Use the maintenance record as a blueprint for you to inspect the forklift. If you like, feel free to ask the owner to point to the replacement and explain the reasons behind major maintenance/repair. Find out whether there are any mechanic problems with the forklift. If yes, research the approximate repair cost to assess whether the problem will be detrimental to your overall investment.

4. Perform a Personal Inspection of the Forklift

Inspect the forklift yourself to gather an overview of its condition. Examine major areas of the forklift that are commonly known to be defective. Look at the hour meter reading to see how long the forklift has been in use. Inspect and check the motors and lift cylinders for leaks.

5. Give the Forklift a Live Assessment

After you have personally examined the forklift and finding everything to your satisfaction, it is time to see it work. The National Forklift Exchange suggests buyers to perform hands-on assessment of the mast operation by testing the mast with and without the maximum load in search for signs of instability. Operate the forklift and have it perform some of the mundane tasks your business demands. If all goes well, you may have found the right forklift to make you some money!

Tom Reddon is a Forklift Specialist and Blog Manager for National Forklift Exchange.  He also sits on the MHEDA Executive Dialogue team.  Connect with him via Twitter at @TomReddon.

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  1. I agree that it is important to take great care when buying a used forklift. You need to be sure that you are investing in a machine that will last you a long time. I think that a live assessment is probably the best way to determine the exact condition of the forklift as well.

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