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Buying A Used Forklift - Do Hours Matter?

Used equipment is a great way for you to get a quality machine at a lower price. But when choosing a used forklift, too many buyers just look at the price and how many hours the equipment has. Ask these questions listed below if you want to save a lot of heartburn and wasted money. Questions such as:

– How this equipment been well-maintained?
– Does the equipment come with a warranty?
– Is the manufacturer known for long-lasting equipment?

Read on to for our top tips to find a quality pre-owned forklift at an affordable price.

What to Look for When Comparing Used Forklifts

How Much Do Forklift Hours Matter?
The age of a forklift is measured in hours, not years, and the average lifespan of a forklift is 10,000 – 15,000 hours. That said: Toyota is the only forklift manufacturer to maintain its resale value after 10,000 hours.

The Toyota 4y Engine is a run-tough workhorse. I usually don’t like to compare Toyota’s forklifts to their automotive products, but it’s similar to the 4y engine used in Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks for the last 20 years. Those engines got 250,000-400,000 miles!

The long-term value of a Toyota is more than just the engine. I’ve worked with Toyotas since 2005, but continued to sell and rent equipment from other manufacturers. The Toyota lift has the fewest problems by far compared to other manufacturers out there. The hydraulic system (one of the main components on a lift) has a reliable control valve that we very rarely has problems.

Also, Toyota lift truck masts are strong. I never see bending unless the lift has been in an accident. The engine compartments all easily accessible to service and check fluids; such as hydraulic, transmission oil, engine oil, fuel regulators, radiator fluids belts and fans. Also parts are very easy to find.

If you take care of the forklift, it will take care of you
At Total Industries, we have rental  lift trucks with low hours, but we also have forklifts in the 14,000-16,000 hour range that don’t give us problems – because we stay on top of maintenance.  As the saying goes, “if you take care of your forklift, it will take care of you.”

While I wouldn’t recommend buying a 10k+ hour lift truck to use eight hours a day all week, a 10k+ hour Toyota forklift is ideal for a buyer who needs a lift truck 10-15 hours/week. I recently sold three 5000lb cushion forklifts with 15,000-18,400 hours and it was a great fit for the businesses’ needs and their budget. 

What to Look for When Buying a Pre-Owned Forklift
Always have a qualified forklift technician inspect the lift prior to purchase. Skip this step and odds are you’ll live to regret it. Have the technician inspect the mast, transmission and safety components like the seatbelt, horn and lights.

Also check the tires. Bad tires tell you the forklift has been used in a rough environment, and you may have issues down the road.

Lastly, be sure the forklift has been properly maintained. Normal wear and tear on hoses, tires, rollers, and seals is okay. There can also be fuel system maintenance. But be sure to check:

    • Is there fresh grease on all grease fittings?
    • Are there current hour meter readings on the air and oil filters?
    • Are there gaps between the lift chain links?
    • Is the counterweight mounted straight? 
    • Leaking fluids are an early sign of a performance issue or safety problem.

If you find one sign of poor maintenance, there are probably more…

Beware of discontinued models
A forklift that’s not longer in production may be less expensive up front, but finding parts may be a challenge and can increase ownership costs. Before buying a discontinued forklift, find out how easy (or difficult) it might be to source replacement parts.

Try not to have one of everything
Sticking to one or two manufacturers allows you to go to one dealer for all your warranty and repair needs. Also, it limits the number of forklifts operators need to be familiar with.

How to Avoid Buying a Bad Used Lift Truck

Beware of as-is forklifts and forklifts for sale by owner. Someone selling a forklift on craigslist has no vested interest in you once the sale is done.

When you buy a certified used forklift from an authorized dealer like Total Industries, we’ll lookover all the systems to make sure the equipment you’re buying is safe and problem-free. We stand behind the equipment we sell, and all our used equipment includes a 30-day parts and labor warranty and a six-month powertrain warranty.

When comparing used forklifts, the sales price and number of hours should be only two factors in the overall equation. Cheaper options may seem like a good deal, until you start dealing with downtime. Toyota Certified Used forklifts undergo a 103-point quality inspection and consistently rate as highest in quality, durability, reliability, overall safety and value. Check out our used forklift inventory, and please don’t hesitate to  contact us for more information or if you don’t see a truck that fits your needs.

Please contact us online with any questions, or by phone:
East Bay – Livermore  (510) 675-0500
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091 

Further Reading:
How to Maximize Your Forklift’s Trade-in Value
What’s Better: Lowest Cost of Ownership or Lowest Price? 
How Long Does the Average Forlift Last?