When purchasing a new or used forklift, the goal is always to extend the life of the machine without incurring costly repairs. In order to do that, frequent inspections are necessary to ensure everything is working properly. If you don’t, you could end up with a neglected machine that breaks down often resulting in expensive repair costs.
While there are many ways to maintain your forklift, here are the top 7 tips we recommend for all forklift owners.
1. Inspect Your Vehicle Daily
Although this may seem like an obvious suggestion, we can’t stress enough how important it is to inspect your forklift daily. Did you know that a daily inspection before use is actually an OSHA requirement? If you inspect your forklift before use each day, you can avoid operational disruptions by dealing with any issues before they arise.
We recommend using a standard checklist when inspecting your forklift. OSHA provides one that covers everything you need to take note of, including:
- Tire pressure
- Fluid levels
- Forks and overhead guards
- Seat belts
2. Keep Your Forklift Clean
In addition to looking shiny and new, cleaning your forklift on a weekly basis ensures there are no combustible materials built up on the machine. If your radiators are blocked because of lint, for example, it will affect both the safety and operation of the vehicle.
When cleaning your forklift, be sure to:
- Change any filters
- Wash off and wipe down any dirt, dust, and debris
- Blow out the radiators
3. Follow the Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedule
Each forklift manufacturer provides a specific schedule to inspect different elements of the vehicle. This is to ensure each part of your machine runs smoothly. If you don’t stick to the manufacturer’s schedule, more operational issues and occurrences are at risk.
Your manufacturer's schedule will outline when you should have:
- Oil changes
- Fluid inspections
- Filter changes
- Spark plug replacements
- Brake servicing
- Tire inspections
4. Take Your Forklift Out of Commission if You Notice a Problem
Taking your forklift out of service when a problem arises is the key to ensuring employee safety and your machine runs smoothly. If during the inspection you notice something is not working properly, for example, continuing with operational procedures before dealing with the issue would be a grave mistake.
Imagine if you noticed something was not quite right with the brakes. However, the problem didn’t seem too threatening, so you decided to keep your forklift in service. What would happen if the brakes suddenly went out? Your forklift driver could be seriously injured, and your warehouse could be damaged if the forklift crashed.
Plus, the problems with your machine would be far greater than if you just took your forklift out of commission and had it serviced right away.
Not only is it required by OSHA to remove the machine from service if you notice a problem, it’s best for the safety of your employees and the operation of your machine.
Remember, it’s far more cost-effective to have your brakes examined than it is to have them replaced when they stop working completely.
5. Don’t Forget to Check the Tires
While you should check your forklift’s tires as part of your daily inspection, it’s best to pay them special attention as there are a number of issues that may arise. In fact, OSHA regulations dictate the forklift needs to be taken out of service if the tires are missing even a small piece of rubber.
During your daily tire inspection, be sure to take special note of:
- Worn out or cracked tires
- Small leaks
- Deflated tires
- Tires losing their tread
- Low tire pressure
Be sure to replace the tires immediately if you notice an issue. This will not only help you to save on expensive repairs down the line if a larger problem arises, but it will ensure the forklift drivers are safe — and the machine is running smoothly.
6. Only Work with Qualified Technicians
Here’s the thing: as with any field, there are different levels of experience and qualifications. When you’re dealing with an expensive piece of machinery that your business relies upon heavily, it’s best to work with someone you trust.
Ensure that the repair technician is experienced in working with forklifts and is able to identify and resolve issues before they turn into bigger problems. Don’t be afraid to ask the maintenance company about their experience, credentials and record of success.
For most problems, your technician will need to conduct a detailed on-site evaluation of the issue. They will carefully inspect your machine to see what the root cause of the problem is for repair.
Where your forklift is concerned, you don’t want a band-aid solution. Instead, confirm that your technician can provide a long-term repair that will improve the safety and operation of your machine.
7. Sign Up for a Maintenance Plan
One of the most effective ways you can extend the life of your forklift — while lowering your repair costs — is to purchase a maintenance plan. A comprehensive plan will include any repairs a technician completes at your site, plus any larger repairs that are completed offsite. This way, you can rest easy knowing your machine will be taken care of, regardless of the issue.
At PMHSI, we hire highly qualified technicians who are experienced with a number of different manufacturer’s forklifts. Our technicians receive factory training so they have intimate knowledge of how your machine works. Plus, we provide them with the latest diagnostic tools to identify the root cause of any vehicle issues.
Want to know more about how you can extend the life of your forklift without incurring expensive repair costs? Give us a call at 510-878-3065 and we’ll tell you how our maintenance plan can help you do the job.