The Differences Between 3 Wheel Forklifts and 4 Wheel Forklifts

Just like any other type of vehicle, there are many models of forklifts that come in various designs and configurations to handle different types of jobs.  While the forklift types often differ by design and attachments, most models are available in 3 wheel and 4 wheel configurations.  It may not seem like there are major differences between the two options, especially when both configurations are available on the same forklift model, but there are some key differences that you must consider when making a forklift rental or purchase.  This guide explains the advantages and disadvantages to using 4 wheel and 3 wheel forklifts.


3 Wheel Forklifts


The main advantage of 3 wheel forklift models is the small turning radius.  This makes 3 wheel forklifts ideal for working in areas with limited space because they are much easier to handle in these scenarios than larger 4 wheel models.  The dual steer wheel configuration also makes it easy to handle 3 wheel forklifts as the steer wheel is generally mounted in the center under the counterweight.  Another advantage of 3 wheel forklifts is that they are usually more affordable than 4 wheel models.


The biggest disadvantage of 3 wheel forklifts is their limited weight capacity.  These forklifts generally cannot lift more than 5500 pounds because any more weight will make them unstable when they turn which is quite dangerous.  These forklifts are also not suited to handle rough terrain such as gravel, soil, uneven ground, or steep inclines.

4 Wheel Forklifts


The biggest advantage that 4 wheel forklifts have over 3 wheel models is that they can handle a much higher weight capacity.  Some 4 wheel models can handle up to 20,000 pounds and the single steer wheel configuration gives them stable turning when handling heavy loads.  These forklift models can also handle rough terrain and inclines much better than their 3 wheel counterparts.


The one major disadvantage of 4 wheel forklifts is their large turning radius which makes them very difficult to use in tight spaces.  These forklifts are also more expensive than 3 wheel forklift models because they are larger and can handle much bigger load capacities.

If you are looking for a forklift rental or to purchase a new forklift, you must consider your specific needs when choosing between 3 wheel and 4 wheel forklift models.  Jobs that must be done in tight spaces and require light loads are ideal for 3 wheel forklifts while 4 wheel models are suited for heavier loads and rough terrain.  RHI Lifts offers a range of forklifts for sale in the Chicago area and several of our new forklift models are available in 3 wheel and 4 wheel configurations.  Contact RHI Lifts or call us at (847) 923-0374 to talk to us about your options for a new forklift.