How Buying Used Forklifts Saves Money for Your Company
Forklifts, those powerful trucks that convey heavy materials across warehouse floors and similar environments, are widely used in many industries. In fact, they’re essential equipment for many companies-there’s really no substitute for a durable, dependable, well-maintained forklift. These trucks can carry literally tons of material-their capacity varies according to the specific model-and they’re usually small enough to navigate through congested shelving aisles and other spaces.
Without a doubt, lift trucks can be extremely useful to have around. For that reason, a lot of business managers must figure in the expense of purchasing and maintaining forklifts when it’s time to calculate the operating budget of the company. That can be a problem, however, as the company may not have the resources to purchase the top-of-the-line forklifts that the managerial team would like.
One common solution is to buy used forklifts, which are priced substantially lower than brand-new models. Understandably, many business owners hesitate to purchase pre-owned forklifts, but, as we will see, by exercising due diligence it’s possible to avoid the pitfalls associated with buying used.
Why Buy Used Forklifts?
The obvious answer is that used forklifts can be obtained for much less money than ones that are fresh off the line. The availability of used forklifts is a boon for companies with tight budgets, especially if the only choices are to buy a pre-owned lift truck or go without altogether. But it’s also worth keeping in mind that used forklifts provide an opportunity to assemble a sizeable fleet that might be impossible otherwise. Many warehouses have multiple forklifts operating on the floor at the same time. By buying used, it’s possible to purchase many more trucks without busting the budget. For the same expenditure of money, a company can acquire a greater number of forklifts.
In addition, some companies prefer to have a backup forklift on hand that can be quickly put into action whenever the primary truck is broken or otherwise unavailable. As backup trucks are intended for short-term use only, they don’t need to be in tip-top shape. It’s not uncommon for companies to purchase a relatively inexpensive used forklift that can be started up at a moment’s notice to deal with impending deadlines or emergency situations. A related consideration is the relative ease of buying a used forklift; often, it’s the fastest way to purchase a usable truck.
Buying used forklifts also allows companies to avoid depreciation of value. As with automobiles, forklifts cease being “new” the instant they’re bought, resulting in a substantial hit to its worth in the marketplace. This may pose a problem for businesses that expect to resell this equipment some time down the road. By buying used, you avoid such dramatic depreciation.
Possible Downsides of Buying Used Forklifts
A used forklift has been around the block a few times, and its current level of functionality may reflect this simple fact. The motor and other vital components will probably not last as long as those on a new model that carries out comparable tasks. Furthermore, a used forklift may have been manufactured years ago, and for that reason might not include state-of-the-art capabilities and safety features.
These are important considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a pre-owned lift truck. However, if you know what to look for, you can purchase a used forklift that can be reasonably expected to perform well for some time to come.
Inspecting a Used Forklift
Before you buy a used forklift, you’ll need to carry out an inspection to ensure that the truck is safe to operate and will be able to perform necessary tasks. Be sure to take a close look at the following forklift components:
- Forks - These are responsible for supporting heavy loads, and, therefore, it’s important to ensure that they’re in top condition. Check the forks for cracks, which could indicate serious structural damage, and don’t forget to inspect the heel (the bend that joins the fork to the upright shank connected to the carriage). Bent forks are also undesirable, though a slight bend may be correctable. Keep in mind that forks tend to become worn due to dragging across the ground. To check for excessive wear related to this phenomenon, compare the depth of the heels to the depth of the upright shanks; they should be very close in size. It’s best to use a fork caliper for this inspection. Finally, take look at the positioning lock.
- Mast - These come in several basic varieties (simplex, duplex, triplex, and quad), but the same inspection principles tend to apply to all. Again, look for cracks. Rust is also an indicator of problems that shouldn’t be ignored. The mast rollers should have a round shape-an oval look may indicate too much wear. Make sure that the lift chains aren't unbalanced in their lifting capability. Pins should be securely fastened.
- Engine - Check for the same kinds of elements that you find in a standard automobile: air filter, battery, fluids, belts, and so on. There should be no leaks or cracks.
- Frame - You should take a walk around the frame, looking for cracks or other indications of damage. Make sure the canopy supports are in good shape-these can be a life-saver in the event that the truck tilts over. Also, check the screen and windows for damage. The tires should be in decent shape as well. The hydraulic components should be free of cracks and leaks.
- Cab - Get inside and put on the seatbelt. The seller should be willing to let you drive the forklift around the lot so you can get a feel for the truck. Hit the brakes a few times to ensure these are in good condition; you should also try to drive it in reverse for part of the testing experience. Don’t just drive the truck-take this opportunity to test out the hydraulic levers and see whether the mast and the loader arms operate correctly.
- Nameplate - Check this to ensure that the load capacity of the truck conforms to your requirements. The absence of a nameplate should be a red flag-OSHA rules call for every forklift to have one in legible condition.