The Forklift Boss Blog

Blog posts from Marshall Cromer, "The Forklift Boss". Follow us for information on forklift safety, available parts, & upcoming technologies shaping the future of material handling!

May 23, 2014

Signs a Forklift is Ready for Retirement

Do you have a forklift ready for retirement? Like us, forklifts eventually wear out and need replacement. There are signs you should look out for. Before they turn into breakdowns that risk worker safety or interrupt operations.

When a Forklift is Ready to Retire

After a certain number of years, all forklifts develop issues. Repetitive use carrying heavy loads takes its toll on the equipment’s moving parts. Regular maintenance helps a lot, protecting those moving parts and the workers who use them, extending the forklift's overall life.

Still, nothing lasts forever. There’s a point where continuing to use an older forklift doesn’t make safety-related and financial sense. We call this point “end of life.” After this point, an older forklift is more likely to fail, or cause an accident, than continue operating normally. Normal maintenance costs more than it did the previous year, as well.

If you track a forklift’s age and maintenance schedule, it’s easy to estimate when a forklift is ready to retire. (What? You didn’t do that for all your trucks? Uh oh.)

Luckily, a forklift will show clear signs it’s reached "end of life" and is ready for retirement. All you have to do is spot them.

Signs a Forklift is Reaching its End of Life

At Cromer, we've worked on and with thousands of forklifts. Small to large. In almost all cases, the forklifts reaching end-of-life show the same kinds of signs. These are the most common signs you can watch out for:

  1. It’s been in operation for over 10,000 hours. All forklifts with 10,000 operating hours on them need a thorough systems check to make sure it’s still safe to use. It’s closer to 20,000 operating hours? It needs retiring very soon!
  2. The forklift’s maintenance cost doubled (or more) in the past year. Check your maintenance schedule balance. Are you spending more on a certain forklift than the others in your fleet?
  3. Engine complaints. Did you receive more than 1 complaint from operators about the engine not turning over?
  4. The forklift is 'down' more than it’s 'up.' If a forklift has had more downtime than uptime within the past 6-12 months, it’s a prime candidate for retirement.
  5. The truck has had more than 4 work orders on it in the past year. Number of work orders, whether small fixes or major repairs, can indicate a forklift is on its last legs. Pay special attention if the work orders involved the transmission.
  6. The forklift's safety features are out of date. If operators prefer using your newer forklifts because they have better safety features, then the older forklifts are close to end of life. Missing or out-of-date safety features on a forklift pose a safety risk not only to their drivers, but those around them.

EXTRA: It's important to remember that electric forklifts generally last longer than IC trucks. Keep that in mind when checking for end-of-life signs.

Dangers of a Failing Forklift

The older and more worn-down a forklift is, the more likely it will fail while on the job. These failures can endanger the lift truck’s driver, and any other workers nearby. Any of the following could happen:

  • Dropping loads
  • Jerking motions while driven, causing a spill or damaged product
  • Sudden loss of power
  • Equipment freezing up
  • Fluid leaks creating slipping hazards

That's the sort of thing you just don’t want happening out on the floor. Better to avoid them entirely by inspecting your forklifts, and identifying when one is ready for its retirement.

Now that we know what to look for, what should you do with a forklift which has reached its end of life? Head to our next post, What to Do with a Forklift at its End-of-Life for the answer.

UPDATED JUNE 2020