Considerations for Buying a New Forklift

Forklifts are very important pieces of equipment in many commercial settings and they are also a major investment for a company.  There are so many brands and types of forklifts available with different specifications, work capacities, and attachments to handle just about any job in a commercial or industrial setting.  The trick when getting a new forklift is finding one with the right specifications and attachments to handle the specific task that you need done.  Forklifts are not only an investment due to their purchase price, but also because they can increase production to benefit your bottom line.  It is important to find a cost-effective forklift that is best suited to handle your job for an improvement in your productivity.

This forklift buying guide explains the important considerations you must make when looking for a new forklift.

Forklift Maintenance TipsForklift Maintenance

Buying a forklift is a major purchase that involves several considerations to make sure that you get the best ROI for your equipment.  One of the most important things to consider before a forklift purchase, especially in terms of ROI, is the long-term cost of forklift maintenance.  Forklifts are typically used under demanding conditions and over time, they will need to be serviced and parts will need to be replaced to keep them performing at their maximum capability.  Many forklift dealers provide maintenance and support including new forklift parts and the best way to gauge the maintenance cost is to evaluate the post-purchase maintenance offered by the dealer.  You should take the following into consideration:

  • The rate of the service labor
  • The availability of a service technician
  • The availability of forklift parts
  • Turnaround time on a service call

Trends in Technology

The technology used on forklifts is constantly evolving to produce more cost-effective equipment and with the average cost of a forklift purchase being anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000, it is important to buy a forklift built with modern technology.  Forklifts built with the latest technological enhancements are more cost-efficient and up-to-date and the maintenance provided by forklift dealers is more effective on newer parts and attachments.  One example of an important technological advancement is the use of fuel cell technology in forklifts to replace diesel and battery powered equipment.  Forklift engines that operate on fuel cells work more efficiently for longer periods of time than traditional engines with much lower emissions.

New or Used Forklift

This is a very important consideration to make early in the process so that you know what you are looking for and the type of budget you will need.  Some companies may have no choice but to look for used equipment due to their budget and if this is the case, you must consider the following with used forklifts:

  • The year the forklift was built
  • The amount of service hours logged by the forklift
  • The type of jobs it has been used for
  • The physical condition of the forklift and its component parts


Forklift Types

ein mann auf gabelstapler transportiert eine kisteYou should already know what job you need your new forklift to handle which will help you decide on the right forklift type.  The following are the four most common forklift types to consider:

  • Order Pickers: These forklift types are generally used indoors in warehouses and retail stores to stock pallets of items on industrial shelves or racks. Order pickers have electronic lifts that move items on shelves up to 11 feet tall and they are available with different size platforms and weight capacity.
  • Pallet Jacks: Pallet jacks are hand-operated tools that can move pallets of product at the ground level. Because they are not ride along machines, pallet jacks require no licenses or training to operate.  They are available in several different configurations and some have the option of battery powered electric fingertip controls to lessen the amount of physical force needed by the operator.
  • Reach Trucks: Reach trucks are similar to order pickers but with extendable forks to reach higher shelves or racks and a much higher weight capacity. These forklifts can lift loads up to about 30 feet high and handle as much as 5,500 pounds.
  • Sit-Down Counterbalance Forklifts: These forklifts have the biggest weight capacities and highest lift capabilities and unlike order pickers and reach trucks, sit-down counterbalance forklifts can be used outdoors on difficult terrain. They have a weight installed on the back of the forklift body to counterbalance the load weight, allowing some counterbalance forklifts to lift between 80,000 and 120,000 pounds.  They are also available in 3 or 4 wheel models with several options for internal combustion engines that run on different types of fuel.

Forklift Attachments

There are a wide variety of forklift attachments and accessories available that allow a forklift to handle several different jobs for a better ROI.  Many of these attachments are also easy to install and remove so you can quickly prepare your forklift between tasks.  Once again, knowing exactly what you need your new forklift to do can help you decide on the right necessary attachments to complete the job more efficiently.  Some of the forklift attachments available include telescopic boom, fork extensions, lifting beams, drum snatchers, rotators, fork positioners, and pole attachments among many others.  Make sure you discuss your forklift attachment options with the dealer before making a purchase.

Forklifts are essential in many work environments and because of the investment they require, buying a forklift involves many careful considerations.  The first step of this process is to determine what tasks your new forklift will be used for as this will help guide your decisions while making the necessary considerations listed above.  Whether you are buying a new or used Chicago forklift, the professionals of RHI Lifts can help you choose appropriate Chicago forklifts that fit your budget and have the capabilities you need.  Contact us or call us at (847) 447-0700 if you are interested in a new forklift for your Chicago area business.