Improve Forklift Performance With These 5 Simple Maintenance Tips
by Phil Hanford, on April 10, 2020 at 8:00 AM
Forklifts are rugged machines built to perform well under tough conditions, but they still need occasional TLC. Regular maintenance will improve performance and can prolong the economic life of your forklift.
A well-maintained forklift can last 14,000 hours and beyond, but a neglected forklift will need an expensive repair usually around 6,000 - 8,000 hours. Follow the simple tips in this article to:
- Decrease downtime
- Improve performance
- Avoid surprise expenses
- Protect your employees
The list below includes proven ways to improve your forklift’s performance and maximize its longevity. A forklift maintenance plan is a turnkey way to ensure your equipment is well-maintained, but some companies choose to do their maintenance in house. In our experience, this can lead to costly mistakes.
We provide mobile forklift service and repair, but we'd rather help you avoid emergency forklift service in the first place. Contact us to get a forklift maintenance plan that works for your needs and budget.
How Basic Forklift Maintenance Improves Performance
Change the Oil- For internal combustion engine (IC) forklifts, most manufacturers recommend changing the oil every three months or 150-200 hours (whichever comes first). If you don't change the oil, sludge builds up in the engine and performance gradually declines.
For some forklift owners and fleet managers, this is obvious. Why wouldn’t you change the oil? Unfortunately, we see some neglected forklifts out there that require expensive preventable repairs due to inadequate oil changes. Serious corrosion or catalytic converter failure are some of the costly consequences of not changing the oil.
Check Fluids and Lubricate Moving Parts - Keep an eye on your forklift’s hydraulic fluid and oil levels, and ensure all moving parts are well-greased. Replace bearings when needed.
Check Tire Pressure - Under-inflated tires waste fuel and reduce traction. Check tire pressure weekly to maximize performance and prevent accidents.
Visually Inspect Brake Shoes - This one may seem surprising, because forklift brakes can last 5,000 hours or more. But, if operators ride the brake or accidentally drive with the parking brake on, that can drastically shorten the life of your forklift's brakes. OSHA requires operators to check for proper brake pedal resistance, but because brakes get soft gradually, periodically looking at the brake shoes through the wheel hubs is a valuable secondary check.
If you find your brakes need to be replaced frequently, due to dirty working conditions or other reasons, consider wet disc brakes. They last 5-10 times longer and never need an adjustment.
Battery Maintenance - If your electric forklift has a standard lead-acid battery, regular watering and cleaning will help maximize its life. Also, your forklift battery has a limited number of charging cycles, so, it’s important operators only recharge at the end of a shift, or when the battery has discharged down to 30 percent.
Daily checklists cover, or partially cover, many of the tips above. Unfortunately, operators can be in a rush, and things get missed. The best way to avoid expensive repairs is to have your forklift inspected regularly by a certified forklift mechanic.
Mid Columbia Forklift and MidCo Material Handling offers a variety of forklift maintenance contracts to protect the health of your fleet - and your bottom line. Our experienced forklift technicians can maintain and repair any make or model of forklift.