Common Mechanical Failures With Forklifts

A forklift is essential to the warehouse. It is the means by which goods are transported around in mass quantities, making work easier and more efficient. Keeping your forklift in the best condition possible is key. Make sure maintenance is taken seriously on all equipment. By keeping forklifts, and other machines serviced regularly they will last longer, giving you use way beyond what they otherwise could have given.

 Yellow Forklift

Even with proper maintenance, there are certain issues that are more common in forklifts. No matter how well you take care of them, the problems may still arrive. Be aware of the potential issues, and be prepared to fix them.


Before beginning to work with a forklift, there are a few things that should be done to ensure it is working properly. This will keep it running smoothly, preventing problems that could cost you thousands.

Check the various oils, gas, and other fluids depending on if the forklift you are using is electric or gas powered. These should be monitored, as you would keep an eye on a car, assuring that they stay at optimal levels. Not checking this can completely ruin your engine.

Although not directly related to the maintenance of the forklift itself, put on your personal safety equipment prior to using it. By wearing safety goggles, or a full face shield, and gloves, you can prevent damage to yourself.

Tilt and Shift

The tilt and the shift functions are important to the forklift. They allow the device to lift an object off of or on to high shelves. If these aren’t working on your forklift, the machine will be useless for the time being, not able to move anything.

If you are experiencing this problem, check the hydraulic fluid levels first. When these fluids get lower, it may prevent the machine from working properly. Make sure to get the fluids replaced as soon as possible. This could prevent further damage from occurring.

If the fluid levels are all within a normal range, next check the filters on the hydraulic pump and lines. If dirt has clogged the filter, this will prevent the fluid from flowing properly. This filter should be changed on a regular basis, and should be checked to prevent problems before they occur.

When you have checked all these options, and the problem persists, you may need the help of a professional. Problems with the hydraulic pump can be costly, and are not easy to mend. In most cases, a service technician should be the one to make the change. Damage to the hydraulic pump could be avoided by checking the fluids and changing the air filters as often as necessary.


If the forklift isn’t steering like it usually does, or is riding rough, this isn’t normal, and should be addressed immediately. Check the wheels and the tires. Because of the way they are designed, much of the weight is placed directly on the rims. If the tires have begun to crack at all, the machine won’t ride as smoothly as before.

Having control of the forklift is imperative. If you let the problem continue, it is possible for the tires to separate from the wheels, causing an even more dangerous situation. If you are moving products while this happens, it could be disastrous. Take the time to monitor your tires.

Although on a smaller scale, some of the same problems happen when you don’t change your forklift tires often enough as when you neglect your car tires. As tires are used, over time, they are worn down through the weight of their vehicle, and the ground they are used over. When the tread is worn down, you can completely lose control of the vehicle.

Steering problems can result from other things as well. If your tires appear to be in good shape, check for low power steering fluid, damaged tire rods, or worn gears. Getting these changed may be necessary from time to time.

Taking care of your forklift is crucial. Take the time to maintain it on a regular basis. This will save you time and money when everything is said and done. Check the things you can mend first. If the problem is bigger, enlist the help of a professional to get the job done right.

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By +Cassie Costner

Cassie writes on maintaining your forklift, and getting the best help through websites such as She has also written on forklift safety and making sure the forklift operators are cautious.