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When Should a Forklift have Preventative Maintenance Done?

Written by editor on May 26, 2012 – 6:54 pm - (21681 views)

How Often Should a Forklift be Serviced?

You just bought a lift truck and now the sales rep is standing in front of you with a maintenance contract to sign.  The PM (Preventative Maintenance) contract says every 90 days.  But how much maintenance is enough and how much is too much?

OSHA Rules Around Lift Truck Maintenance

OSHA has specific rules around the maintenance of industrial trucks, which is found under the compliance section 1910.178(q),  Maintenance of industrial trucks according to OSHA, a lift truck should be removed from service if it is not “in safe operating condition”.  And “all repairs shall be made by authorized personnel”.

Also, when creating a maintenance program, be sure that “the manufacturer’s instructions on vehicle maintenance…be consulted”.

A Lift Truck Must be Safe to Operate

During regular maintenance visits, an employer can ensure that a powered industrial truck is safe for use.  A lift truck would be consider unsafe, for example if:

  • A gauge is found to not be functioning properly
  • Welds are broken
  • Bolts are missing
  • The overhead guard is damaged
  • Tires are missing large pieces of rubber

So what do manufacturers and authorized personnel recommend?

Following what OSHA requires for the maintenance of lift trucks, let’s look at what manufacturers and lift truck maintenance companies recommend.

Hours or Time – Whichever Comes First

You will hear from lift truck maintenance companies that a Forklift will need to be serviced based on usage intervals – measured in pedal hours or key hours, and time intervals – measured in days and months.

Key Hours versus Pedal Hours

LP Forklift hours are often listed by key hours, the time the keyswitch is in the “on” position.  Electric lift trucks have a variety of hour meters that measure motor and travel hours.  Usually maintenance intervals are based on “Pedal Hours”, a measurement of when the lift truck has the deadman pedal depressed.

Internal Combustion Lift Trucks Maintenance Schedule

A field service tech for Sunstate Equipment, recommends service intervals based on hours.  Here are  recommendations straight from a Forklift Mechanic :

Every 50 Hours

  • Grease zerks to be greased

Every 200 hours a full service is recommended, including:

Every 500 hours, the hydraulic system should be serviced including:

  • New filters and
  • Fresh hydraulic oil

Northern ToyotaLift of Vermont recommends forklifts to be serviced every every “30 to 90 days or 100 hours based on truck usage”.  They check these items:

  • Mast and Attachments
  • Drive Train
  • Engine Compartment (including fluids & filters)
  • Electrical System
  • Brakes
  • Hydraulics
  • Steering System
  • Safety and cosmetic appearance

Electric Forklift Maintenance

Electric Lift Trucks will have slightly different maintenance intervals.  The Raymond Corporation has developed pallet trucks with self-lubricating bushing and AC motors to increase the maintenance intervals and lower maintenance costs.


If you have a lift truck in use in your facility that gets regular use, it is a good idea to have a fully trained and licensed technician look at your lift every 90 days.  Make sure they have a list of items they inspect, and be sure that the lift looks clean and cared for after each forklift maintenance visit.  Keep a copy of the items inspected in a file and be prepared to show it OSHA should they ask.

When you look for a company to perform forklift repair and service, check out their various service offerings and inquire about their first call completion and response times.  And then ask for references.

Did we miss anything?  Please leave your comments below.


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Posted in AC Motors, Forklift, Lift truck, LP Forklift, Pallet truck, Preventative Maintenance, Safety, Warehouse Best Practices | Comments Off on When Should a Forklift have Preventative Maintenance Done?

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