5 Things to Consider Before Buying or Renting a Forklift

16 May 2016

buying a forklift

When making the decision to buy or rent a forklift, its important to consider a number of factors to help you determine which piece of equipment is right for you. We’ve outlined the 5 most important things to consider before buying or renting a forklift:

1. What is your Usage?

Your level of usage is always an important factor to consider when making your decision to purchase or rent a forklift.  Below is a general outline for the best forklifts to purchase based on level of usage:

  • Low Usage: 3-4 hours per week. A used forklift with hours anywhere between 12,000-20,000 hours could be a possible option.
  • Medium Usage: 3-6 hours per day.  An ex-rental unit may be a good choice, from 8000 to 15,000 hours. Ideally the forklift will have been maintained and serviced regularly by the hire company due to being in a rental application.
  • High Usage: 7-10+ hours per day. A piece of equipment being used this frequently should ideally be purchased from new. Alternatively, it should be leased on a long term basis. Generally new forklifts will have 1-3 years’ warranty.

2. Forklift Size and Load Capacity

As well as hours of usage, you will need to consider forklift size and load capacity based on your expected lifting requirements. Different machines are capable of different things, so keep in mind things such as load weight, lift height and work space. For example, Diesel and LPG/Petrol forklifts generally have a larger load capacity compared to electric forklifts.

3. What is your Budget?

As with any big purchase, it’s important to be realistic. If your forklift budget is small, you need to keep in mind that what you’re able to purchase may not have a lot of life left in it. While price isn’t necessarily always a reflection of quality, it usually is when it comes to vehicles and machinery. If you do not have an adequate budget to invest in a quality machine, hiring a forklift may be a better option for you and your business.

4. Which fuel type? – Electric, LPG or Diesel

Different forklifts are designed to perform differently, so it’s important to consider and compare each option. Forklifts come in three main power types; electric, petrol/gas and diesel. While there are some crossovers between the three, there are some defining factors which make each of these forklift types better for certain applications.

  • Electric Forklifts: Electric forklifts are widely used in the food processing industry. This is due to the fact that they don’t emit fumes, tend to have better maneuverability, are less noisy and are ideal for use in smaller spaces. Electric forklifts can take up to 8 hours to recharge, so there is a much longer wait time compared to the re-fuelling of a gas or diesel engine. Electric forklifts are generally not suitable for outdoor applications.
  • Gas/Petrol: Gas/petrol forklifts generally have a lower upfront cost and maintenance cost compared to electric and diesel options. This type of forklift is the most versatile, and can be used both indoors and outdoors, if the indoor space is ventilated sufficiently. They are quick to refuel, and are capable of maintaining 100% power throughout the work day.
  • Diesel: Diesel forklifts are typically more powerful than other forklifts.  They are generally larger in size and require much more space to maneuver. Diesel forklifts create fumes and matter which are unsafe for use indoors.  

5. Do your Homework!

Buying a forklift is usually a large investment for your business, so the reliability and performance of the equipment should be a major factor in your decision. We’ve outlined the questions that you should always ask the supplier before you go through with a purchase:

What to ask when purchasing a Used Forklift:

  • Does forklift have a service history?
  • Does the forklift have any existing structural or mechanical faults?
  • What year was the forklift manufactured?
  • What environment has it been used in, and for how long?
  • Is there any warranty given?
  • Can I inspect the forklift?

What to ask when purchasing a New Forklift:

  • What are the major components and running gear of the forklift? Where are they manufactured?
  • General background history of the manufacturer.
  • What is the warranty period provided?
  • Proof of reliability, quality and performance?
  • What is the typical service price?
  • Are parts and back up service offered from the seller?
  • Ask for a demo at your site, or at the seller’s site.

Simons Mechanical Services are experts in all things forklifts, so contact us today if you need assistance with selecting the right forklift for you.


5 Oxford Court
Maida Vale
Western Australia 6057


Mobile 0419 954 303
Fax +61 8 9454 2696

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