When to Repair Vs. Replace Your Forklift Battery
by Midco Forklift, on July 10, 2020 at 8:30 AM
A bad forklift battery slows down your operation and can damage your equipment. Learn how to identify a dead or dying forklift battery and when to repair versus replace it.
How Long Do Forklift Batteries Last?
Forklift batteries don’t last forever. A standard lead-acid forklift battery is good for about 1,500 charging cycles. For a single-shift operation, this works out to about a five-year lifespan (if the battery is properly maintained).
To maximize the life of your forklift battery:
- Follow the manufacturer’s watering and maintenance recommendations
- Have your forklift serviced regularly
- Don’t re-charge the battery until it has discharged to 30 percent.
Batteries have a limited number of charging cycles, so you don’t want to waste them on lunch-hour top-offs. Opportunity charging forklift batteries is useful for many operations, but there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
Signs Your Battery May Need to Be Replaced
When your forklift battery doesn’t hold a charge like it used to, that's a sign you may need to replace it soon. That said, if the battery is only a few years old/has fewer than 1,000 charging cycles, you may be able to repair rather than replace it.
Here are few more signs your forklift battery is going bad:
- Corrosion on the battery case
- Spilled acid on the exterior
- A rotten egg smell
- Corroded or damaged terminals
- Dim or flickering displays
- Poor response time
Sometimes It’s An Easy Fix...
Slow performance and dim displays might be caused by a loose connection. Cables can come loose, wear out, or aren't reconnected properly after charging. Have an experienced operator with proper training inspect the connections and check for signs of corrosion or wear. They should also clean the connection area(s) properly before reattaching any loose cables.
Sometimes You Need a Professional
If your battery emits smoke at any point, power down the forklift or charging equipment immediately. A smoking battery can catch fire or explode.
If the operator finds corroded or damaged terminals, excessive sulfation or acid leakage, have the battery inspected by a professional. Excessive sulfation and acid leakage are typically caused by underwatering (sulfation) and overwatering (acid leakage). In either case, the battery will be covered in a hazardous substance. Do not allow employees to handle the battery without proper training and PPE. Call a professional to evaluate whether your forklift battery is still safe to use (after some cleanup), or if it should be sent back to the manufacturer.
Forklift Battery Repair in Seattle, the Tri-Cities, Wenatchee and Yakima
If you think you have a bad battery, the first step is to call an experienced professional. You don’t want a weak or unstable battery causing expensive damage to your forklift’s internal systems.
The forklift battery repair experts at Mid Columbia Forklift and MidCo Material Handling can help you safely determine what’s wrong with your forklift battery and make an informed decision whether to repair or replace it.
Some batteries can be reconditioned instead of replaced. Our factory-trained battery repair technicians can also conduct voltage tests and evaluate the specific gravity of each cell.
If you run a multi-shift operation or use your forklifts continuously throughout the day, a lithium-ion or thin-plate battery may be a cost-effective alternative to standard lead-acid forklift batteries. Lithium-ion forklift batteries don’t require maintenance or watering and last 2-4 times longer than lead-acid batteries. Thin plate batteries are a lower-cost alternative to lithium-ion and designed for opportunity charging.
Questions About Forklift Batteries? We Have Answers
Mid Columbia Forklift and MidCo Material Handling has been helping customers in the greater Seattle area, Tri-Cities, Wenatchee and Yakima since 1978. We're happy to answer any questions you have about battery maintenance, inspection or repair.
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