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Your Guide to the Different Types of Forklift Tires

If your company uses forklifts regularly, it is very important for you and your forklift operators to understand the differences between the types of forklift tires.  The tires are important features of a forklift because they directly affect the handling which impacts the safety and operation of the equipment.  The three main types of forklift tires are pneumatic tires, solid rubber tires or cushion tires, and polyurethane tires, and they each must be used in specific work environments.  The following information will help you understand the different types of forklift tires and their applications to ensure that you are using the right tires for the job.

Pneumatic Tires

forklift-sales-rentals-service-chicago-ilPneumatic tires are traditional tires that are made with heavy duty rubber with deep treads that have a strong grip.  These tires are quite versatile and they can handle the uneven surfaces inside warehouses as well as the rough terrain of outdoor jobsites like lumber yards and construction sites.  Pneumatic tires come in two different types; air pneumatics which are air filled tires, and solid pneumatics which are filled with liquid polyurethane foam.  Solid pneumatic tires are puncture proof and used for the toughest jobs.  Both types of pneumatic tires will help protect your forklift and extend its life by absorbing shocks.

Solid Rubber Tires

Solid rubber tires, also referred to as cushion tires, are tires made from solid rubber.  These tires do not inflate like pneumatic tires and instead are fitted around the metal band.  Solid rubber tires typically have a long life and they are cheaper to manufacture and maintain.  They are best in work environments with a smooth surface like warehouses and loading docks, and they have a small turning radius which is great for smaller spaces.  The disadvantages of solid rubber tires are that they are poorly suited for outdoor use and they do not have the same shock absorbing ability as pneumatic tires to protect the equipment.

Polyurethane Tires

Polyurethane tires are the most lightweight of the forklift tire options and they are typically used on electric forklifts for indoor applications.  These tires have low resistance and good traction, and they can handle a lot of weight.  They also have the best turning radius of the forklift tire types, making them ideal for use in small indoor areas.

Choosing Forklift Tires

forklift-tires-chicago-ilThe work environment and application should help you decide which forklift tires you should use.  Some forklifts are built for specific tire types and if this is the case with your equipment, you cannot switch to a different type of tire.  In general, forklifts built for outdoor use should have pneumatic tires because they are built to accommodate this type of tire and it is best suited to handle heavy duty outdoor use.  Electric forklifts that are used in small indoor spaces should have polyurethane tires for the small turning radius.

Here are some other factors to consider when choosing forklift tires:

  • Pneumatic tires can handle a higher weight capacity than the others.
  • Solid rubber tires and polyurethane tires are best suited for smooth surfaces.
  • Pneumatic tires have shock absorbing qualities that protect your forklifts and make the ride more comfortable.
  • Make sure the tires you choose are manufacture approved.
  • Used forklift tires in good condition can be used.
  • There are non-marking tires available in all three types, but they do not last as long as the standard tires.
  • Solid rubber tires can last 2-3 times longer than pneumatic tires.
  • Foam filled pneumatic tires are ideal for environments in which the tires might be punctured, but you need special equipment to fill them.

If you are looking to purchase a new or used forklift, you must consider the application you will use it for and buy a forklift that has the appropriate tires.  If your forklift can use different types of forklift tires, make sure the tire you switch to makes sense for your application and works with your equipment.  Talk to our professionals at RHI Lifts if you still have questions about the different types of forklift tires.  We provide maintenance and repair services for all forklift types and we can give you with valuable insight on the uses of the different types of forklift tires.

You can contact RHI Lifts by calling (847) 447-0700.