Used Forklift Buyer's Guide

Forklifts are vital in transporting materials, products and pallets around warehouses and worksites. Used forklifts can deliver exceptional quality and reliability at a lower initial cost, making them great choices for many teams. When you need to expand your fleet, it can be much more cost-friendly to invest in a used forklift rather than buying a new model. 

Making an informed investment in a pre-owned forklift and getting the most out of your purchase means understanding a few key considerations.

Understanding Used Forklift Value

Before diving into the used forklift market, it’s important to recognize the value of a forklift for your business. These machines play a critical role in enhancing efficiency in warehouses, construction sites, manufacturing and logistics. Forklifts move materials with ease, allow you to quickly maneuver around corners and enhance worker safety by reducing the need to manually lift and move heavy loads. 

Finding the right forklift is key for driving productivity and making cost-effective decisions that help your bottom line, and purchasing a used electric forklift over a new one has several benefits:

  • Ensuring reliability through evaluating past history
  • Speeding up the purchasing process to reduce downtime
  • Enhancing your buying power by allowing you to purchase multiple machines at once
  • Saving money by investing in machines with a lower initial price point to strengthen cash flow 

Selecting the Perfect Used Forklift

For your forklift to be a worthwhile investment, you must find a model that will meet your specific industry needs. Consider these factors when browsing for a forklift:

  • Job type or application: Consider the type of work you plan to complete with your machine, as this will be a significant driver for your top pick. For example, if you will be using the machine indoors, you may need to opt for an electric model over a gas model to avoid fumes from invading your space and harming your workers. Will you need a large, heavy-duty solution, or can you opt for smaller models? What materials will you be hauling? How often will you be using the forklift? 
  • Size and capacity: Size is another critical factor. You need a forklift that can handle your jobs while also enhancing productivity. You may want a large forklift to haul more materials at once, but if you’re operating in a tight space, a large forklift may have the opposite effect because your team may struggle to navigate the large machine through shelves and around other equipment. Additionally, you may need high lifting capacities to reduce manual workloads. 
  • Previous and future use locations: Evaluating where other teams have used the forklift and where you plan to use the machine can provide vital insight. For example, if you opt for a model that a previous team used outdoors, you should consider environmental factors that could impact the machine’s components. Machines near saltwater or in humid environments may have more component corrosion than other models. Similarly, you can determine whether the forklift will perform well in your work environment if it has a good track record in a similar environment. You can also use this history to anticipate various maintenance needs to uphold the machine’s integrity. 
  • Comfort and safety: Safety should always be at the forefront of your business, and you can often increase comfort with increased safety. Operators spend significant amounts of time in the cab of the forklift, and ergonomic features can reduce the likelihood of operator injuries from rough rides or a lack of safety equipment and features. 
Attachment compatibility
  • Attachment compatibility: Forklift attachments boost functionality and productivity. One of the reasons forklifts are so popular is their versatility with a range of accessories to perform various tasks. Evaluate the types of used forklift attachments and accessories that can benefit your business and ensure the model you choose can support them. 

Essential Inspection Tips Before Purchasing

When purchasing equipment, it’s essential to determine whether the machine is in good condition. You should request a service history for your model to understand any unique issues it may have and ensure the forklift has undergone all essential servicing for proper function. 

Follow these inspection tips before finalizing a purchase:

  • Look for any cracks or welding marks on the lift chains.
  • Evaluate the forks for damage like cracks or bends.
  • Check the thickness of the blade’s heel.
  • Review the used forklift battery power and operating hours.
  • Ensure the battery size and weight are appropriate for the model it’s in.
  • Determine the engine’s condition by looking for cracks or leaks.
  • Inspect the hoses, belts, air filters and battery connection.
  • Monitor the mast operation to identify any rising issues.
  • Confirm the odometer reading and check for error codes.
  • Verify safety features and ensure they all work, including seat adjustments, lights, seatbelts, horns, brakes and levers.

Understanding Costs and Maintenance for Long-Term Value

Pre-owned forklifts offer a lower initial investment cost, but you must consider future expenses to uphold the machine’s integrity. The cost of ownership for a pre-owned forklift can look different than that of a new model. Along with the expenses you likely already expect, such as service agreements, preventative maintenance and fuel, you will also need to consider several other factors. 

For example, you must consider part availability and pricing. If you opt for a unique model that requires specific parts, you should evaluate whether you can easily access these parts, how much they cost and how often you may need to replace them. The same principle applies to servicing the forklift. While some dealers may offer a support team to deliver repairs and maintenance, others will not. Ensure you can access the necessary support to care for your machine before purchasing it. 

With these factors in mind, there are several tips you can follow to extend your forklift’s life span and reduce repair and maintenance costs. Depending on your unique applications and use, you may need to administer maintenance more frequently. Consider implementing these maintenance strategies into your schedule:

  • Perform daily inspections to assess the condition of your tires, cables, hoses and mast chains.
  • Identify the source of any leak promptly.
  • Monitor all fluid levels regularly, including engine oil, coolant, fuel or hydraulic oil.
  • Inspect the brakes, steering, accelerator and drive control before beginning operations.
  • Lubricate your components monthly.
  • Check the battery and engine filter and oil about once a month.
  • Request yearly services to replace all fluids, examine any cracks, adjust the release bearing and particle test mast welds and forks.

Finalizing Your Forklift Purchase With Confidence

Your dealer plays a significant part in building confidence around your forklift purchase. Finding a trustworthy source for pre-owned machines ensures you have the support and expertise you need to make a smart and worthwhile decision. 

Bohl Equipment Co. provides quality parts, equipment and services for every customer. Partnering with us allows you to access top-tier new and used material handling equipment. We proudly carry some of the most reliable manufacturers and leading brands, including Yale, Hyster, Tennant, CombiLift, Rico, Lift King and more. 

With over 50 trained technicians and more than 7,000 items in our inventory, we know we can help you find the most suitable models to benefit your business. 

Find Used Equipment at Bohl Equipment Co.

Find Used Equipment at Bohl Equipment Co. 

When you need to enhance your fleet, trust the experts at Bohl Equipment Co. to help you find the best solution. With an extensive range of used equipment and a large catalog of new pieces, we can help you access the latest technology, find the most cost-effective solution for your business and everything in between. For a superior selection of pre-owned forklifts and expert advice, contact our team


534 Laskey Road
Toledo, OH 43612
Toll Free: 888.695.3105