A Quick and Simple Guide to Forklift Maintenance


Regular forklift maintenance is essential. It helps to keep your machinery in top working condition, ensuring you get the longest life out of your investment. It also helps to minimise machinery downtime, which is vital for productivity. And perhaps most importantly, regular maintenance will ensure that your forklifts are operating within full safety parameters.

Without proper maintenance, your forklift will be more likely to break down. This unscheduled downtime can wreak havoc with productivity and targets. You may be forced to hire additional machinery to make up for the capacity shortfall, and that’s just wasted money.

Preventative maintenance is also important for preventing major damage and costly repairs. A scheduled service can catch minor wear and tear before it turns into a full mechanical breakdown. And that will save you money.

Of course, when it comes to material handling and machinery operation, safety should be your first priority. And a poorly maintained forklift is a dangerous forklift. Any kind of forklift accident could cause serious injury, as well as interrupting work and costing you money.


Maintenance Types

Maintenance comes in a variety of forms and it’s important to the different types to ensure you’re providing your machinery with the maintenance it needs.

There are four different types of maintenance:

  1. Reactive: Also known as breakdown maintenance, reactive maintenance refers to repairs carried out once the machinery as broken down to restore it to full working order.
  2. Preventative: This is performed on machinery that is still in working order and is designed to reduce the likelihood of breakdown.
  3. Predictive: This uses condition monitoring tools and past performance tracking to forecast when breakdown or failure is most likely to occur and schedule maintenance accordingly.
  4. Proactive: This form of maintenance aims to avoid the underlying conditions that lead to faults and breakdowns.

Each form of maintenance his its pros and cons in terms of cost, machinery downtime and mechanical expertise. Other than reactive maintenance, each of these types of maintenance require you to draw up and follow a maintenance schedule based on a range of factors including:

  • Manufacturer recommendations
  • Age and condition of machinery
  • Safety requirements
  • Hours of operation
  • Service history and past maintenance requirements
  • Intensity of workload

Daily Maintenance

Good forklift maintenance should always include with a daily inspection. Draw up a general checklist that the operator can quickly run through at the start of each shift. This checklist should include essential safety and operational components and daily performance. Important daily maintenance and checks include:

  • Tyre condition and pressure
  • Steering
  • Safety lights, indicators and headlights
  • Safety sirens and horns
  • Leaks or damage to hoses
  • Brake performance
  • Cleaning and washing
  • All fluid levels
  • Seat belts
  • Gauges and displays

Monthly Maintenance

Regular monthly maintenance should be carried out by a qualified and experienced forklift mechanic. It should ideally be carried out after 200 hours of operation. Monthly maintenance requirements will vary depending on the type of forklift, the work it’s doing and the terrain it’s operating on. For example, a forklift operating indoors in a warehouse environment will deal with less wear and tear than a forklift working a construction or mine site.

In general, however, monthly maintenance should include:

  • Full lubrication of the chassis and mast
  • Draining and replace the engine oil
  • Cleaning the air filter
  • Checking operation of the lift and tilt cylinder, rotor, drive belt tension, and other important components
  • Adjust the ignition timing and engine idle speed if required

Quarterly Maintenance

Every six months (or every 600 hours of operation), your forklift will require a more detailed inspection and service. Quarterly maintenance should include:

  • Replacing hydraulic filter
  • Cleaning the radiator
  • Replacing fuel filter
  • Adjusting clutch bearing
  • Checking and adjusting mast support bushing, tilt cylinder pins and chassis links
  • Checking all pedals and brakes
  • Checking chain tensions, mast operation, hydraulic oil, differential and transmission oil and all valves and hoses

Handle any problems when they arise

While following a regular maintenance schedule is important, it’s also vital to deal with any issues as they arise. Leaving repairs until the next scheduled service can be a safety hazard and can lead to more costly repairs. In other words, if you notice any problems with the forklift, you should handle the issues immediately. This will make sure that small problems don’t turn to bigger and more expensive ones. You can also have a look on our blog on the Choosing the right Forklift for your Business

Besides safety, operational efficiency and equipment longevity, regular servicing and maintenance will help to improve resale value. Any buyers looking for used forklifts for sale will immediately check the service history before anything else.

Make sure your protect your workers and your equipment investment by regularly servicing and maintaining your forklift.