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Blog posts from Marshall Cromer, "The Forklift Boss". Follow us for information on forklift safety, strategic advice from our team's service experts, and upcoming technologies shaping the future of material handling!

Nov 27, 2013

Why Won't My Forklift Start? - Common Causes of Forklift Failure

Every year, the holiday season comes in like a tidal wave. We’re rushing about in the warehouses, getting loads moved and shipped. More coming in. It’s the holidays—we can’t stop until January!

In fact, all this rushing is usually what causes forklift failures. Operators are in such a hurry that they neglect to check certain things on their trucks. Those things get worse and worse, until one day—boom. The forklift just quits working.

Our maintenance technicians see it happen all the time. Oh, we know how to repair the trucks and get them back to you fast. But I’m sure you’d rather keep those forklifts running smoothly. Every day!

We asked our maintenance technicians about the most common problems our service customers have. And what operators should do instead, to minimize any chance their forklifts will stop working. This is what we heard back.

What Happens: 4 Common Failures

According to Cromer technicians, these 4 causes are responsible for most of the forklift failures they see.

  1. Dead battery – Did someone leave the lights on? Or the key turned in the ignition?
  2. Debris build-up – If there’s dust or plastic wrapping on the warehouse floor, it can get sucked up into the forklift. Airflow gets clogged, fans can’t spin properly...and the forklift overheats.
  3. Overheating – Without sufficient coolant, your forklift’s converter can freeze up. Rapid overheating follows.
  4. Hydraulic leaks – Many things can cause a hydraulic leak. Impacts, a blown hose, even over-lifting the forklift’s capacity. If the hydraulic cylinders leak, your forklift is useless until repaired.

How to Prevent Forklift Failures: Check Your Trucks!

The good news – all of the above problems are preventable! All your operators need to do is take a few moments to maintain the forklift. This is what Cromer recommends for good operator care:

All Forklift Types – Do a quick check each morning, to make sure your forklift is in good working order. Things you should check include:

  • Check the tires, safety harnesses, and the brakes (including e-brake).
  • Check all fluids (oil, transmission, coolant, fuel). Don’t forget the hydraulics!
  • Lift the forks. Tilt forward and back.
  • Check the lights and the steering. Beep the horn.
  • Look under the forklift. Make sure there’s no debris underneath, and no leaks are visible.

LPG/Diesel Forklifts – Check your fuel level. Running out of fuel on LP systems can harm the trim valves. For Diesels, it can damage the injector pump. Either way, the forklift needs replacement parts.

Electric Forklifts – Check your battery’s water level. If the battery goes dry, it’ll die fast. And it’ll blow out components on the way out. Improperly-maintained batteries are the #1 cause of electric forklift failure.

If you have forklifts which are sluggish or not working right, do some maintenance before the holidays hit their peak. Call us for on-site maintenance help.

If you’re short on trucks this holiday season, Cromer has rentals available!

Take a little time and check your equipment on the way out. Just a few minutes can prolong your forklift’s life (not to mention avoid any holiday headaches).

We’ll see you back here in December!


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