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8 Signs Which Show Your Forklift Needs a Service or Maintenance

Forklifts are extensively used across many industries which include, but are not limited to: construction, logistics, warehousing, and retail.

All the heavy lifting done by forklifts tends to cause wear and tear which reduces the efficacy of these machines. It is important to have a regular maintenance and servicing schedule to keep the machines in working condition.

Apart from the regular servicing, you should also be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of potential problems which should be resolved before they become a strain on your productivity and revenue. The forklift operators and maintenance team should conduct frequent checks on the machines as preemptive maintenance reduces downtime which helps you to save on repair costs. A daily log is required or before each shift. Basic check lists can be found on-line, or your local lift truck source should be a resource for one as well. These records should be kept on file and show the occupational and safety officials that you are vigilant when it comes to your lift truck maintenance and more than likely are meticulous about safety as well.

Let us discuss some indicators which tell you that it is time for your forklift to get servicing.

Worn Out Forks

Loading, unloading, and transporting pallets put a strain on the forks which can be a cause for wear and bends. Over time the lift chains begin to stretch and allow the forks to make more contact with the floor causing the heels to drag and become thinner. A damaged fork not only reduces efficiency but is also a safety hazard and can damage the load during pickup or transportation. If there are cracks or dents in the forks, or if they appear to be out of alignment, ensure that the forks are serviced immediately. There are small gauges available that allow you to measure the thickness of the fork to see if it is within specs.

Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are hazardous for the working environment as people can slip on leaked oil and it can be damaging for other forklifts operating in the vicinity. Lack of oil can cause more friction and temperature in the cylinders as they operate, which can damage other forklift parts as well including the pump, filters, and seals. An oil leak should be repaired, instead of adding more lubricating oil and continuing operations. This is because oil leaks are the cause of potential hydraulic, or engine failures.

Damaged Chain

Properly lubricated chains on forklifts can withstand thousands of work hours. Signs such as rust, corrosion, stretching and kinking mean that it is time for you to replace the forklift chains. Some engines also use a timing chain. This chain should be changed at proper service intervals. Failure to do so can be damaging for your forklift’s internal mechanisms if it is an interference motor and can cause a sudden halt during an ongoing job, which can damage the load being transported by the forklift. Additional signs of chain damage include worn pinheads and link plates.

Faster Battery Drainage

Electric forklifts run on lead-acid batteries which have a specific number of total charging cycles. To maximize the life of a battery, it is charged only when it goes below the 20-30% charge range. Charging batteries quicker than that can reduce its useful life.

If your forklift battery is not holding a charge as it should normally, then it is time to replace the battery. To check up on the battery health, make a note of how long its charge lasts after it has been charged fully. Also, ensure that you use a charger specific to the battery specifications to ensure longevity and use the equalize function.

Unusual Exhaust Fumes

For diesel- or gas-powered forklifts, if you experience strange exhaust fumes, or smoke it can be an indication of engine damage and you should get your forklift serviced immediately.

Soft Braking

Like automobiles, the brakes on forklifts are important for operational safety. If the forklift operator feels that the brakes are becoming soft or spongy, you should get the fluid, brakes and other related parts serviced immediately.

Rugged or Rough Application

Each forklift has a standard operating procedure and works well with a longer life only if the standard application work process is followed. If your forklift is being used for more hours or in a non-standard terrain, then your maintenance schedule will need to be updated if you want to ensure that the machine does not break down easily.

Change in Sound

Once you have worked around a particular forklift for a long time, you will know what particular sound it generates while being operational. If you hear a sound that does not match the normal one, then it is a good idea to get an inspection done for possible repairs.


Forklifts have a heavy operational use where they lift loads in strenuous environments. It is best to keep these machines in pristine condition to ensure long life and proper safety measures. If your forklift is showing individual indicators or a combination of the aforementioned problems, then it is best to schedule a maintenance appointment with Permian Machinery Movers, Inc.

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