Should You Repair Or Replace Old Forklifts

Your forklift is old and you’ve never been in the business of throwing money away (and you’re not going to start now).

The first option is to repair the old thing, which might be a waste of money if it’s bound to fail in only a few short months…or maybe weeks if you’re particularly unlucky.

The second is to send it out to pasture and bring in something new (or newer) to replace it, which would be a shame if she still had plenty of life left in her.

But we have a feeling you’re the do-it-yourself type, and this here article is for you. Below are a few tips on how to tell if your forklift should be repaired or replaced.

One Simple Way to Quickly Determine if You Should Replace Your Forklift

Here’s a quick question – will it cost more to repair and maintain the forklift than it will to simply replace it? Keep in mind that, although the question is simple, there’s a lot to think about.

You may already know the cost of the repair but you also have to account for the time the repair will take and how that downtime will affect your business while you wait.

On the other hand, purchasing some kind of replacement may cost more than just the ticket price you see, considering there may be a warranty or other fees. On top of that, you still have the problem of having to wait to receive the newer forklift based on its location and availability.

That might not be enough to go by, so let’s take a closer look at some of the factors that might play into your decision, starting with the age of the equipment.

How Old Should a Forklift Be Before It’s Ready to Retire?

Forklifts come with varying lifespans but generally, they last about 10,000 hours of operation or about six to seven years of service. Granted, that number varies because of differences in make and model, warehouse conditions, typical load, etc. Some higher-end models might exceed 20,000 hours. Others become unsafe before hitting the 10k mark.

If you bought it new or like-new from a dealer like The Company, we should be able to tell you, based on the time of purchase, how long your forklift should last. We’ll more than likely ask you a few questions with regards to how often it’s operated, load size and weight, how it’s been maintained, and the like.

Should the equipment seem like it’s about to cost more than it’s worth and it’s near the end of its lifespan, it’s probably time to think about retiring it. Here are a few more ways you can know it’s time to get rid of it.

Time to Retire Your Forklift

Old age is one thing, but it’s not the only thing that should prompt replacement. If you’re experiencing the following problems, you’ll want to lean towards the side of replacement:

  1. Your maintenance costs have suddenly and drastically increased. Is your crew getting too used to your equipment breaking down? Remember – breakdowns are more costly than planned maintenance (plus downtime, once again). Does it seem that after some point in time, the cost of maintenance has skyrocketed, and has yet to return to what you thought was normal? These are not good signs and they are likely indicators that you’re paying much more than you should be for a machine that would be better off retired.
  2. Your equipment’s safety features are beyond their date. If you’ve had a forklift for an extended period, the safety features that were new and important at the time are likely not up to today’s increasingly rigorous standards. Please keep this in mind when making your decision, as you never want to unnecessarily put your operators at risk.
  3. Highly dangerous equipment failure. Certain safety hazards should halt the further use of the equipment until repaired or removed from the premises. Among them are:
    • Distorted forks
    • Forks dumping loads they should be able to carry
    • Jerking motions
    • Equipment keeps losing power
    • Fluid leaks

One important thing to note: if you’ve decided to retire your forklift, keep in mind that you should check the backup equipment to see if it’s of a similar age since it too may need to be considered for replacement. You don’t need the added frustration of having multiple forklifts fail all at once, so it’s better to prepare!

How to Know When to Simply Repair Your Forklift

If you’ve performed the necessary maintenance work on your forklift throughout its life, naturally it will last longer, and it’s more than likely that, barring any catastrophic issues, you should be able to repair it and move on. What are some things to look for if only repair is required?

  1. As previously mentioned, certain makes and models are known for being incredibly durable, as opposed to others that might fail in only a few short years.
  2. Electric-operated forklifts are easier to maintain and last longer than their internal combustion counterparts.
  3. Is the repair necessary due to the result of a single accident? In other words, if it was a single event (as opposed to years of wear and tear), it’s likely a problem that can be repaired.
  4. What are the workplace conditions in which it operates? Forklifts in extreme conditions don’t last as long as regular conditions, which is to say, not exposed to extreme heat, caustic chemicals, etc. If your forklift has been kept in normal conditions, it’s more likely to last longer.
  5. What are the loads it typically moves? And once again, as long as we’re not talking extreme loads or consistently pushing the upper limit of what is possible for your machine, it’s going to last longer.


Credits; Lily Forklifts