Do You Know How To Buy a Quality Forklift?

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C30461-GC55K (1)Have you wondered what makes one forklift different from another? Forklifts seem to look almost identical and they do the same thing, so what could be so different among them? When we get past appearances we see that forklifts can in fact be very different from one another.  And you can expect performance between different brands to vary considerably.

So what makes up the differences between forklifts? If you leave out many of the small details you’re left with a list you can work with when comparing forklift brands. Here you will find a usable list of forklift specifications to keep in mind when shopping for your next forklift.


Internal combustion forklifts all have an engine.  These are the forklifts that run on LP gas, gasoline, diesel, and CNG.  The different forklift manufacturers use different types of engines.  For instance, Caterpillar uses a lot of Nissan and GM engines while Hyster uses Mazda and other engine makes.

We won’t be able to cover which of these engines is considered “good” or “bad” as there is a lot personal preference that makes one engine better than an other.  But just remember that you will have to keep the engine make in mind when buying a new or used forklift.

Forklift Engines – What to Consider

  • Are you or your mechanics already familiar with fixing a certain type of engine?
  • Compare to car engine reputations which are more readily available.
  • Look for online reviews and forums about the forklift/engine


You will find many different types of transmissions in internal combustion engine forklifts, and in some brands like Linde you will find a hydrostatic drive system. Some transmissions are generally considered more reliable than others; and some transmissions will perform better in different applications than others.  And if you’re interested in not having a transmission at all, you can consider a hydrostatic drive system that uses hydraulic fluid to bring power to the drive wheels.

Forklift Transmissions – What to Consider

  • Where and how the forklift will be used.
  • Are you familiar with a certain type of transmission?
  • What have you heard about the forklift brand you are considering?

Major Components

Forklifts are just like any other complicated machine – they are made up of hundreds of different components like brakes, wires, handles, seats, axles, bearings and more.  Some forklifts are built with sturdier components than others.  And this can make a big difference in a high use environment where a forklift is run for one, two, or even three shifts per day.  If the machine has weak components then you can expect to see problems earlier than with other components.

A quick way to tell if a forklift is built with cheap components is to look for external parts that look out of date.  Some manufacturers are still using parts whose design hasn’t changed for quite a few years and you’ll be able to tell when you look at them.  Another quick way to tell is by using a forklift for just a few minutes and seeing if the usable parts like the steering wheel, hydraulic levers and parking brake feel loose or light.  This is usually a sign of cheap components as well.

Forklift Components – What to Consider

  • Heavy use applications will wear out components more quickly.
  • Cheap external components are a sign of cheap internal components
  • Test what you can see and use – the mast fit, hydraulic levers, seat, etc.

You Can’t Be Good at Everything

Most forklift manufacturers make certain types of forklifts that are better than other types of forklifts that they make.  For example, you could have a forklift manufacturer that makes a great internal combustion warehouse forklift, but makes a poor narrow aisle electric forklift.  You could also have the opposite situation.  Some manufacturers simply have a forklift type that they are better at making, selling, and servicing.

So keep in mind that while a manufacturer may have a stellar reputation for one type of forklift, they’re reputation for another type might stink.  Ask around and see what other companies use and have to say.

There is a forklift out there for  everyone, whether it be new, used, electric, diesel, cheap, or expensive.  All you have to do is figure out how and where you’re going to use it, for how long, and how much you have to spend.  Then line up that list with what’s available in the market.  And soon enough you’ll have a forklift, or maybe a whole fleet, to call your own!


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