Tips for Maintaining a Forklift

Lack of maintenance can shorten the life of a forklift and result in hefty repair bills along the way. In the case of a lease, most rental companies require the renter to perform regular maintenance and could charge for any damage caused by neglect. A poorly maintained forklift also can put the operator at risk.

Regular maintenance

Large contractors that own their own equipment often have in-house maintenance crews, but smaller companies will need to look to outside professionals for major upkeep.  Many manufacturers set their service intervals at months or hours, whichever comes first, with various tasks typically recommended for every 2 weeks to 18 months (3,600 hours). Things a professional service company will do include changing the oil and air and oil filters, greasing the lift chain, checking the steering and cooling systems, changing clutch and brake oil and checking the hydraulic system and brake systems. 

Jobsite checks

Daily inspections are an important part of forklift maintenance and can help ensure smooth operation as well as safety. These tasks, which can be done by the operator onsite, include:

  • Checking for cylinder and hose fluid leaks
  • Listening for any odd noises when the engine is running
  • Checking the engine oil and water levels
  • Making sure the battery is fully charged, clean and in good condition, without exposed wires or clogged vent caps
  • Making sure there are no damaged or missing components such as hoses, forks, bolts, nuts and chains
  • Checking the tires for damage or wear
  • Checking to see that seatbelts and other operator safety equipment are in good shape

Forklifts are probably indispensible on your job sites. Save yourself a load — of money and downtime — by taking care of them.



Kim Slowey is a writer who has been active in the construction industry for 25 years and is licensed as a certified general contractor in Florida. She received her BA in Mass Communications/Journalism from the University of South Florida and has experience in both commercial and residential construction.