The most common type of forklift tire is the cushion tire. These tires come in a couple different forms, but they are all solid rubber tires that have to be pressed onto the rim of the forklift. As a general rule, they are for inside use, meant for running on dry, flat slabs of concrete that you would find in most warehouse settings such as distribution centers. You will usually find cushion tires on either LP Gas powered forklifts or sit-down electrics. Cushion tired forklifts will not usually be powered by diesel or gasoline because they are used inside and those fuel types have emissions that are dangerous inside an enclosed building. That being said, cushion forklifts are common on docks for loading and unloading trucks or trailers.
Cushion tires come in a couple different formats. The most common is solid, black, and without treads. However, you can purchase white, non-marking cushion tires or even treaded cushion tires for extra traction. While a general rule of operating cushion tire forklifts inside, they can scale the shallow inclines you would find on most docks and will usually not have any problem on hard, flat, packed asphalt. Treads can add an extra level of traction especially when the forklift has to operate on surfaces that are less than perfectly flat or level.
Pros of Cushion Tires
- No risk of puncture or going flat – solid rubber
- Cushion tire forklifts are generally cheaper than pneumatic tire forklifts
- Very common so replacement tires are easily accessible
- Longevity reduces replacement frequency and costs $$$
Cons of Cushion Tires
- Not reliable on uneven surfaces, dirt, or gravel
- Tires will spin and slip on wet surfaces
- Must be pressed on the rim – require special machine as opposed to a jack and lug wrench
Pneumatic tires come in a couple different types. They are used on forklifts that are primarily used outside on surfaces such as dirt, gravel, broken concrete or any surface that has a steeper incline. Pneumatic tires can be solid rubber, similar to cushion tires, air-filled, or foam filled. While pneumatic tire forklifts can be used in an inside application they are generally more expensive so they will be best in applications that exclusively outside or will be going in and outside of buildings. Construction companies, rental houses, lumber yards, steel mills are some of the applications most common for pneumatic tire forklifts.
Pros of Pneumatic Tires
- Wide range of application due to tire durability
- Tires can be easier to replace
- Less likely to get stuck in rougher surfaces
Cons of Pneumatic Tires
- Forklifts are more expensive
- Tires are more expensive
- Air-filled pneumatic tires susceptible to punctures