Why is it Important to Service your Forklift at Regular Intervals?

A forklift is the modern-day workhorse of distribution centers and warehouse operations. Pallets of products and materials are moved quickly and efficiently in a way that manual labor could neither handle safely nor as affordable and effectively as a forklift can.

In order for forklifts to maintain the efficient and profitable level of work they carry out they need to be properly and routinely serviced. But how often should this routine servicing be carried out? And what are they ways to maximize your forklift maintenance schedule to reduce costs while optimizing each forklift’s economical lifespan. 

5 reasons why forklifts need regularly servicing

The reasons you want to ensure your forklifts are serviced regularly over a set monthly, quarterly and yearly maintenance schedule are many. However, for the sake of economy, here we have listed five of the most pressing reasons:

  1. Prevent employee injuries

Employee injuries can be caused by forklifts breaking down unexpectedly. An example of this is: if the mast of a forklift fails suddenly, there is a chance that employees nearby could be struck by objects falling from the pallet if they are too close. Or, the pallet itself could fall on nearby employees.

A forklift can move uncontrollably if the control system fails, which can cause harm to the forklift operators and people nearby. By having the forklift maintained regularly, it is possible to prevent both employee injuries as well as prevent catastrophic failure.

  1. Prevent sudden failures of forklift equipment

As forklifts tend to carry incredibly heavy loads across a warehouse, which puts serious wear and tear on the mast of the forklift. If this fails the load could fall, injuring somebody.

Then there is the fact tires wear out which makes it harder to operate. Add to this that electrical systems can short out which also result in catastrophic failures.

To prevent these serious problems from occurring it is ideal to have regular maintenance checks.

  1. Reduce the total cost of ownership for your motive fleet

By engaging in preventive or proactive maintenance you will find it a lot more cost-effective than waiting for a forklift that break downs and creates a catalogue of problems which need fixing.

An example would be the difference between fixing a hydraulic pump seal that’s leaking, and repairing a ruptured hydraulic lift cylinder. The leak is an easy, quick, and affordable fix. If the hydraulic lift cylinder ruptures it can cause other parts of the forklift to break. The rupture will be more expensive and result in more downtime.

  1. Keep forklifts operating efficiently

Forklifts have a finite amount of battery life or fuel which means there’s only so much time to achieve tasks. Forklifts that are poorly-maintained are more difficult to operate, making it slower, and harder to complete tasks.

Also, the fact that a lack of maintenance can destroy battery life efficiency, because corroded connections interfere with electricity flow from the battery to the forklift. By having routine maintenance, your forklifts can last longer at peak efficiency.

  1. Help identify when forklifts should be cycled out

The easiest way to find if an issue exists with a forklift that exceeds its value, is with a routine maintenance service. A forklift that exceeds its value is one that costs more to maintain than it would to buy a new one of better quality.

With frequent inspections that should be standard with owning forklifts, you should be able to identify when a forklift has become either unusable or no longer worth servicing.

If you take this into consideration, you can adapt your forklift management strategy to ensure there’s the budget and capacity to replace forklifts so you can sustain optimal operating efficiency.

How often should forklifts be serviced?

To ensure you get the most utility out of a forklift safely for the longest period of time, preventive servicing can help.

Monthly maintenance

Because of the workload a forklift does, monthly maintenance (or 200 hours of use) by a trained mechanic should be performed. The following tasks should be performed at this point:

  • Check the drive belt tension.

  • Inspect the lift and tilt cylinder operation.

  • Replace the engine oil.

  • Clean the air filter.

  • Lubricate the chassis and mast parts.

3-month maintenance

Every 600 hours (or three months, whichever comes first), you should the following maintenance done in addition to the monthly maintenance:

  • Replace the hydraulic filter.

  • Adjust the mast support chassis link, bushing, and tilt cylinder pins.

  • Clean the exterior of the radiator and replace the fuel filter.

6-month maintenance

At the six-month mark (or 1,200 hours) the following additional maintenance should be carried out:

  • Inspect the brake booster operation.

  • Replace wheel bearing grease coolant, brake fluid, fuel strainer element, fuel filter.

  • Torque the engine head bolts and manifold nuts.

Annual inspections

Annual inspections are required by law to ensure the machinery meets the OSHA requirements. To meet the requirements of the OSHA the forklift must be inspected at, at least, every 2,000 hours of use.

However, if your forklift does double shifts throughout the year, or if it’s operated in extremely hot corrosive environments or other types of severe environmental conditions—then the inspections should happen more often.

Servicing your forklift at regular intervals

The first thing about servicing your forklifts is to have a planned maintenance program or plan. This will help you to ensure your forklifts are properly maintained and serviced for optimal use and safety.

Southern Lift Trucks offers a range of forklift repair and maintenance for a wide range of brands and types. Whether you need just one forklift, or an entire fleet serviced, our team are able to help you.

If you would like more information on the importance of regularly servicing your forklift, or to book in for a service, please contact Southern Lift Trucks today.


Why do forklifts need regular servicing?

One compelling reason is that you are legally obligated to have your forklift serviced once it reaches 2,000 hours. This is an OSHA compliance issue. The other reasons are it’s safer for your drivers, and can make the forklift last longer.

How regularly should a forklift be serviced?

A forklift should have general maintenance carried out monthly, or after 200 hours of use. This of course changes depending on the terrain in which the forklift is used and how much use it gets. 

Isn’t servicing a forklift monthly unnecessary?

No. It’s the best way to ensure your forklift is safe to use, and is maintained at peak performance. If you think about how much work a forklift does, it only makes sense to keep in the best shape so it can last longer.