Has your forklift operator every said to you “It was fine last time I checked,” just after telling you that the forklift just broke down? That begs the question, when was the last time they checked?

Preventive Maintenance Checks should be part of your worksite’s daily routine before and sometimes after you operate a lift truck. The few minutes you take out of a workday to ensure that your equipment is in proper working order can potentially save you and your company money and reduce the amount of time a vehicle is down for repairs. The following list is by no means meant to cover everything. In fact, we’re not covering obvious things such as the fuel/battery system or strange noises. Instead, here are 5 key things you should inspect almost every day that you may have missed:

  1. Tires

    Often taken for granted, the condition of these can make all the difference when it comes to a smooth, stable ride as well as maneuverability. Depending on the type of tires you have, inspect the tread for excessive wear. Some tires have built in wear indicators to help you easily identify when the tire is nearing the end of its life. Keep an eye out for deep cuts or debris embedded as the can become critical points of failure. If your lift truck uses pneumatics, note the inflation levels and look for any bulging or distortion. A blowout while carrying a carrying a load could lead to catastrophe!

    a severely damaged tire
    Most tire damage won't be this obvious

  2. Horn and lights

    In a noisy warehouse, a quick blast of your lift truck’s horn helps ensure everyone knows you’re coming. This is especially important if you operate nearly-silent electric vehicles. All it takes is a few quick presses to make sure it’s “beeping” properly. Don’t forget to test the button on your back-up handle if installed. Take a moment to switch your lights on and off. You don’t want to be left in the dark unloading a trailer and flashing lights help catch the attention of anyone who misses the sound of your horn.

  3. Structural

    Lift trucks are built to handle tough jobs but even they can’t handle too many bumps and bruises. Check weld points on the frame and mast for cracks or splits. Either can result in disaster if they aren’t repaired promptly. Don’t forget to examine the forks as well for cracks or chips. Carefully inspect the mast assembly for dents and bends, anything which could adversely effect movement or stability.

    A close up of the forklift backrest
    The weld points on a backrest can break from stress

  4. Fluids

    The most obvious indicator that you have a fluids issue is of course, a puddle but that usually means an issue has existed long enough that now something is *really* wrong. Before you must spend money and time on repairs, make sure you are checking your hydraulic and engine oils on a regular basis. In addition to the levels, take note of any color changes and debris (dirts, metal flakes, etc) present. If you have a water muffler, make sure the supply stays above 75%.

  5. Brakes

    Behind every good tire, there’s a great brake, bringing your lift to a safe halt. Make sure your parking brake is fully functional by shifting to “forward” while it’s engaged. You shouldn’t roll forward even slightly. Disengage the parking brake and test that your other brake systems perform as expected.

BONUS: Cleanliness

Some of the places we operate forklifts aren’t exactly tidy. Whether operating indoors, there’s no escaping dirt and grime. However, before your beautiful orange paint job becomes a dull grey, periodically clean. It may not seem like it but a build up of dirt, grime and debris can negatively impact the performance, especially in and around filters and other moving parts.

As long as you properly care for your lift fleet, you can expect many productive hours from them. The preventive measures you take today can help you avoid costly repairs tomorrow. But, when the time comes for routine maintenance or an unexpected repair, give us a call. Our certified technicians can visit your facility and have your equipment back up and running in no time. Give us a call in Washington at 253-872-7114 or in Oregon at 503-657-6900

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