Buying A Forklift Truck – All You Need To Know!

forklift hire newcastle

This is my free step by step forklift buying guide on how to buy a forklift. Hopefully after you read through it you will be more comfortable and confident about how to spend your budget.

There are many different types forklift types and below you will see a comprehensive list to help you compare and understand the differences.

  1. Diesel Counterbalance
  2. Counterbalance LPG
  3. Counterbalance Electric
  4. Electric Reach Truck
  5. Powered Pallet Truck
  6. Hand Pallet Truck
  7. VNA Very Narrow Aisle


Right now there are a lot of choices of forklift companies to compare including manufacturers and dealers.

It is not simple to choose who is going to be the best supplier for you, so hopefully this “cheat sheet” may help you because you do not want to buy a forklift and regret it later.

Hopefully this guide works quickly and helps to make it simple and fast to make the best supplier.


Like all industries different manufacturers have their own distinct features and benefits.

Often the only way to decide how these features and benefits are of benefit to you is by having a demonstration.

All good manufacturers will have a good fleet of demonstrations forklifts available to bring your site free of charge.

You should never feel obliged to buy a forklift just because you have had an on site demonstration.

Below is a list of the top forklift manufacturers in the world.

  • Toyota
  • Kion/Linde
  • Jungheinrich
  • Mitsubishi
  • Crown
  • Hyster
  • Clark
  • Doosan
  • Komatsu
  • Hyundai
  • Combilift
  • Manitou

If you decide to buy a used forklift truck it can be a great way to save money.

However cheap second hand forklifts can be an expensive mistake. If it is too good to be true then maybe give it a miss.

Think long term cost and not just the initial low purchase budget price.


1. Discover which forklift fits your companies application

If you are new to the world of fork lift trucks you may think they are all the same and come in one shape and size.

However as you will soon discover by reading the following forklift buying guide they are very different and offer different materials handling solutions.

  • Are you using the forklift regularly?
  • Is it working indoors or outdoors or both?
  • What are you going to be lifting?
  • How high are you going to be lifting?
  • Do you have any low door ways?
  • Environmental issues like emissions and noise
  • What are the widths of the aisles it needs to work in

All of the above are basic considerations.A quality forklift supplier will offer to survey your site and make recommendations.

An online seller will not be able to offer this service.As his/her employers, the safety of the truck operator is your responsibility.

Getting the wrong equipment could end badly in terms of damage, accidents, fines and, in the worst case, even imprisonment.

The wrong forklift for your application bought because it was cheap could cost you money in damage to your products. Forklift operators will not want to use it because it is not fit for purpose.

2. Seeing is Believing – It’s easy to have demonstration!

One of the disadvantages of buying a forklift off Ebay or other online suppliers is you can only see the images posted.

The seller will not always include warts and all and will want to show the good point only.

A visual inspection is the only way to go when buying a forklift truck. Think of it like buying a car or a house, you would want to have a good look around.

If you have a mechanic or someone who has bought a forklift before, take them with you.

Look out for leaks, worn tyres, welding repairs, play in the steering wheel, crust on the top of batteries to name just a few.

3. Test Drive – You must be happy before spending your budget!

Buying a second hand forklift is more dangerous in some ways than buying a second hand car so make sure to follow all our tips in this 2020 forklift buying guide.

A fork lift truck can cause a lot of damage if it is faulty or unsafe. There is a lot of strict regulations governing the operation of forklifts.Get the forklift to your site or at the very least get to the suppliers site and test drive the forklift.

It is important to make sure the machine starts from cold and drive it over unmarked surfaces to you can see if it leaks. Look for oil and fluid droplets on the floor.

4. Check The Warranty – You may get upset later!

This forklift buying guide will make sure you get a good warranty when buying a second hand forklift truck. How long does your warranty period lasts, is it a week a month or 6 months?

What does it cover, is it engine and transmission only, what about the mast or the battery? A new forklift will come with a manufacturers warranty which is a minimum of 12 months.

Make sure to keep it somewhere safe in-case the unlikely happens.

5. Is It A Legitimate Import? – Beware of dishonest dealers!

There are a large number of unauthorised or “grey” imports being sold today.

Second hand or even new forklifts that are being sold now are not legally certified to British standards. The forklifts could make your insurance invalid not to mention difficult to find parts for.

Ensure the forklift has a genuine history and a CE certificate or CE mark.

Without you could waste a lot of money. Print this forklift buying guide out and take it with you to see you next forklift purchase.

6. Ask For The Original Certificate of Thorough Examination

All legally supplied forklifts comes with a full LOLER certificate. This forklift buying guide wants to make sure you are safe. This is the equivalent of an MOT for your car.

It is a comprehensive process to complete a LOLER certificate however it is not exhaustive and further checks and inspections such be made.

It is your duty to make sure the forklift has a LOLER certificate and if you buy a second hand forklift cheap the chances are it will not have one.

If you are the owner of the business then your are responsible under health and safety law to get a LOLER certificate.The Fork Lift Truck Association recommends using an examiner accredited by Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS).

These can be found like most things by doing a Google search or just give us a call and tell us you have read our free forklift buying guide.

7. Buying An Electric Forklift Truck/Reach Truck/Powered Pallet Truck

An electric forklift needs a battery just in-case you did not know. A battery for a reach truck could cost as much as £5k depending upon the capacity and supplier.

Typically 40% of the cost associated with an electric forklift is the battery. So if you are looking at buying a used powered pallet truck or any other electric forklift, check the battery.

To offer you a top forklift buying guide the average fork lift truck battery will last in the region of 1200 charges/cycles. Every charge will give roughly 5 hours of operation time.

So, by dividing the forklifts hour meter by five, you can get a rough idea how much life is left in the battery.

8. Check The Miles On Your Forklifts Clock – Don’t be fooled!

So a car’s worth can be assessed through mileage on the clock, a forklift is assessed through operating hours. We have included this as a new addition to our 2020 forklift buying guide.

Fork lift experts who have studied this type of thing estimate that one hour of truck use is the equivalent to driving your car 30 miles.

Using this rationale, a fork lift truck that has done over 3000 hours is the equivalent of 100,000 miles in your car.

Sadly just like cars, clocks can be tampered with by dodgy dealers. So as such, you are advised to check the stated hours against the service history.

9. Is The Forklifts Mast Fit For Purpose? – You need to be happy it works!

It is important that the mast and associated hydraulics and bearings.

It is also important that the forklift trucks mast reaches to height it is supposed too. If you need to lift to 5 metres the truck should lift to that height.

Check that the closed height of the mast fits under any height restrictions you may have. If it does fit under a doorway you can not cut a little off the top or let the air out of the tyre.

If you are loading into containers then you will need a forklift with a container spec mast. These masts are full free lift which means the forks rise up to a certain height before the mast channels rise.

As we mentioned earlier in the forklift buying guide make sure your warranty is comprehensive.Check the channels of the mast for signs of pitting and over lubrication. This can be a sign of wear.

Mast with a lot of lubrication in the channels will attract dust and dirt which will then be ground in when the mast rollers travel up and down the channels.

10. Check The Specification Plate – Be confident in your approach!

Without the rating plate you will not know for definite what the lifting capacity of the forklift is.

It will also tell you how much the forklift can lift in terms of capacity at different heights. Remember forklifts derate in lifting capacity the higher they lift too.

Do not buy a second hand forklift with a plate that has been made up by the dealer. While it might be accurate there is also a chance someone has made a mistake.

You do not want to buy a used forklift that needs to lift 2 tonne only to find out it can only lift 1.5 tonne.

For further information on which forklift is best for you check this article

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