Forklift - Forklifts
You have a lot of money invested in your forklift. In order to protect that investment, perform
preventative maintenance on your forklift regularly. Whether you or someone in your shop is performing your
forklift maintenance or if you are having an outside company perform the maintenance on your forklift, it is good
to know the procedure to be sure that your forklift is properly maintained.
As a forklift mechanic with 35 years of mechanical experience, here are my tips and how-to's on
Start the forklift and let it run briefly while you listen to the engine performance. Listen for any
knocks or misses. Listen for any squealing caused by the belts. Then listen for any exhaust
leaks. Drive the forklift forwards and backwards to check for any slips and to observe any possible wheel
issues. Shut the engine off.
When performing preventative maintenance on your forklift, first check the horn, gauges, safety warning devices,
cab lights, outside lights, back-up lights, and overhead guard for proper operation. Check for any burnt out
bulbs and if any device still does not work, check the wiring and make repairs.
Next in your forklift preventative maintenance procedure is to check the battery compartment. Clean the
battery terminal, battery cables and battery connectors. Open every cell cap and check the cells for proper
fill levels and fill with water as needed. Apply protectant on the connectors to prevent corrosion.
Leave the battery cables disconnected.
Drain the oil from your forklift. Change the oil filter, change the hydraulic filter, transmission filter,
fuel filters, and the air filter. Prior to installing the new filters, use a permanent marker to write the
date on the new filter. Check all fluid levels and fill as necessary. Check the anti-freeze in the
Visually inspect the drive axle when you are underneath the machine. If there is a grease fitting, make
sure to grease the drive axle.
Check the belts on the forklift engine. Check for cracks and frays on the belts.
Perform a visual check of the forklift’s exhaust system. Look for any cracks or holes in the exhaust
Look at the tires on the forklift for any cracks or signs of excessive wear. On an air filled tire, check
the tread. Check the differential fluid.
Check the clutch pedal on your forklift. Check the steering cylinder and the drag links. Check for
any leaks or for any bends in the system.
Proceed to the hoist and look at the hydraulic lines for any leaks. If there are any leaks on the
hydraulic system of your forklift, tighten the lines. If this does not correct the leaks, the fittings may
need to be changed or an o-ring may need to be replaced.
While inspecting the hoist, look at the forks and mast to see if there are any visible cracks or chips.
Look for any bowing or bends in the forks. Any of these should be noted on your checklist and flagged to the
owner and operator as a potentially dangerous issue which needs to be further addressed.
Lubricate all the fittings on your forklift. This would include the hoist mechanism and tie-rod ends.
Checking the wheel bearings is listed on preventative maintenance checklists. However, this is normally
done when replacing the brakes on the forklift. Unless there is some indication during the initial driving
check out of the forklift that there may be an issue with the wheel bearings, it is not recommended to check the
wheel bearings. More harm than good may be done when checking the wheel bearings.
Reconnect the battery cables and start the forklift again. Listen again for any unusual noises.
Lastly, a good preventative maintenance on your forklift will include some cleaning. Wipe down the
forklift and use a spray cleaner to clean the forklift. Jeff recommends an oil based spray cleaner for the
most effective cleaning of your forklift.
Always follow proper safety procedures when performing any maintenance on your forklift.