7 Tips For Buying a Used Electric Forklift

7 Tips For Buying a Used Electric Forklift

Aug 01, 2024

When buying used equipment, it’s important to know what to look for and what to avoid. Here are 7 key factors to consider when buying a used electric forklift.

For many businesses, particularly those in warehousing, manufacturing, and e-commerce, electric forklifts play a key role in daily operations. While many businesses elect to purchase new lift trucks every few years, the cost of buying brand new trucks can be out of reach for some. Purchasing used equipment can often be a wise decision. However, it’s crucial to know what to look for to ensure you’re making a sound investment. Here are 7 key factors to consider when buying a used electric forklift:

  • Check the battery first: The battery is the heart of an electric forklift. A well-maintained battery can often last around five years, but its lifespan can be significantly reduced if it hasn’t been properly cared for. When inspecting a used electric forklift, ask for the battery’s age and maintenance records. Look for signs of corrosion around the battery terminals and check the electrolyte levels. If possible, request a load test to determine the battery’s capacity and health. Replacing a forklift battery can be costly, so ensuring the battery is in good condition is crucial.
  • Look at total hours of operation: Forklifts, like any machinery, have a finite lifespan. The number of hours a forklift has been in operation is a good indicator of its remaining useful life. Most forklifts have an hour meter, similar to an odometer in a car. As a rule of thumb, a forklift with fewer than 10,000 hours is considered to have some life left, while one with more than 10,000 hours may require more frequent maintenance and repairs. However, the type of work the forklift has been used for also matters; light-duty applications are less taxing than heavy-duty ones.
  • Ask for the maintenance history: A well-documented maintenance history is a good sign that the forklift has been well cared for. Oftentimes you can find trucks that were on a planned maintenance program, meaning that they were serviced regularly under a maintenance contract. Regular maintenance can prevent many common issues and extend the life of the forklift. Be sure to ask for maintenance records and look for evidence of regular servicing.
  • Examine the truck’s physical condition: A thorough physical inspection is essential when buying a used electric forklift. While most used trucks will have some paint scrapes or dents, it’s important to look for less superficial damage or excessive wear and tear. Pay close attention to the forks, mast, and lift chains, as these are critical components that can affect the forklift’s performance and safety. Look for cracks, bends, or other signs of stress. Additionally, inspect the tires for wear and ensure they have adequate tread.
  • Take it for a test drive: A test drive can reveal a lot about the condition of a used electric forklift. During the test drive, pay attention to how the forklift handles and operates. Listen for any unusual noises, such as grinding or squeaking, which could indicate mechanical issues. Test the brakes, steering, and lifting mechanisms to ensure they are functioning properly. A smooth and responsive forklift is a good sign that it has been well-maintained.
  • Double check that it will fit your needs: Before you buy a used electric forklift, carefully consider the specific needs of your operation in terms of required lifting capacity, mast height, aisle width, and any other factors that impact usability. Additionally, consider any attachments or accessories you may need, such as side shifters or fork positioners, additional chargers, etc. Buying a forklift that meets your specific needs will help ensure it is a valuable asset to your business.
  • Who is the seller?: Finally, consider the reputation of the dealer or seller. There is a big difference between buying from a “guy on craigslist” or an internet broker, versus making a purchase from a local or regional lift truck dealer with a service and parts department. Buying from a reputable dealer can provide added peace of mind, as they are more likely to offer quality equipment and stand behind their products. Look for reviews and testimonials from other customers, and don’t hesitate to ask the dealer about any warranties or guarantees they offer. Dealers may also be able to offer financing programs, service contracts and other benefits.

In Summary

Purchasing a used electric forklift can be a cost-effective way to enhance your business operations, but it requires careful consideration and quite a bit of due diligence. By paying attention to the battery condition, hours of operation, maintenance history, physical condition, and compatibility with your needs, you can make an informed decision and invest in a reliable piece of equipment. Remember, a reputable dealer can also provide valuable support and assurance, making the buying process smoother and more secure.


Founded in 1960, Associated provides a single-source solution covering the manufacture, design, integration, and service of your equipment—everything from forklifts and conveyors to automation and pallet handling systems. Associated has the ability to enhance the efficiency, reliability, and productivity of their customer’s operations with the most complete intralogistics capabilities in the industry. Associated is an Authorized Raymond Solutions and Support Center. For more information or to discuss your Material Handling project needs, please visit www.associated-solutions.com or contact us at [email protected] (800) 755-7201