How to buy a used lift truck
Use this buyer’s guide to help you when you shop for a used forklift. When you look at a used forklift for sale, you will need to know a few things to determine the value:
Let’s go over the basics of each of the above contributing factors to the price and value of a lift truck.
What is the forklift’s age?
Age is an important factor for the determining the cost side of the price you will pay for a lift truck. A brand new lift truck will “cost” 100% of the book value. This means that the cost to the seller is predetermined and related to the depreciation the truck has on the seller’s books. Sometimes, you will get more value by buying a 5 year or older lift truck with lower hours than a newer forklift with more hours.
So now with an idea of the starting book value the lift truck has, you will need to understand the age of the truck you are buying. On a Raymond or a Crown, this is easy. In the serial number of a Raymond forklift, you will find the age of the truck in a 2-digit code. The serial number might look like this: EZ-99-AJ23679. This lift truck is a 1999 model
On a Crown, the age of the equipment is stamped on the side of the mast in the following format: mm-dd-yy. Ask the seller to send you a photo of this information when selling the lift truck.
On a Toyota, it is less easy and has much to do with the model series of the truck, eg. 6 series, 7 series, 8 series. The series will tell you about features and the age of the engineering and technology.
On a Hyster the serial numbers are longer than most small novels and has a letter denoting the year. You will need a guide to decode it. Otherwise, on the spec plate, the date of manufacture is noted.
Forklift hours on a used truck
Whereas with cars the remaining economic life remaining is determined by the number of the miles on the odometer, with a lift truck the life remaining is determined in many cases by the number of hours on the hour meter.
There are a number of different hour meters on many electric lift trucks. These meters measure the amount of work on each motor, including the lift motor, travel, and a combination of both called deadman hours and then there is key hours.
Key hours on a used forklift
Key hours are the hours logged by amount of time the key switch is turned to “on” on a lift truck. On a gas or LP truck, this is equivalent to the running time of the motor. Key hours are often an inaccurate measurement of work on an electric lift truck as the motors do not spin even when the truck is energized and ready for work.
Deadman hours on a used fork truck
Deadman hours are a truer measurement of work as they represent the time a lift truck is actually working. This hour meter is activated when the lift truck operator is standing on the deadman pedal inside the operator’s compartment.
History of a pre-owned forklift
What is the history of the previously owned lift truck? Where has the truck that is for sale been working? How many shifts has it been working? Was it part of a rental fleet sitting for half its life or was it working 2.5 shifts in the cooler of a chicken processing plant? Did it work in ambient or freezer? Do you know if it maintained on a contract or on a time and material agreement? Are maintenance records available? The answer to these questions will have a large effect on the truck’s resale value.
Here are some items that would seriously affect the future performance of a lift truck
Pallet truck performance impacts:
- Was it used on a dock?
- Was it used in a cooler/freezer?
Reach truck usage impacts:
- Was it used in drive-in rack?
- Was it used in push-back rack?
- Is there play in the scissor mechanism?
- Are the base legs straight?
Orderpicker usage impact:
- Was it used in rail-guidance or wire-guidance? (Rail is hard on a truck)
Forklift usage location:
- Was it used inside or outside?
Electric Forklift Usage Parameters:
- Is the forklift battery new or used? (A replacement battery is anywhere between $3k-$5k)
- How new or old is the battery charger?
- How much compression is left in the motor?
- Does it leak fluids?
Added costs to consider when buying a used forklift
Consider these items that add cost to your used forklift trucks:
- A full set of wheels and tires can add up to $1000
- A new battery can add up to $5k
- Repacking the lift cylinder (leaks) will add at least $1000
- Contactors will cost hundreds of dollars
- New brushes will add $500 to replace
- A reconditioned motor can cost up to $2,500
- Blown circuit cards are up to $1000 each (Crown lift trucks have as many as 8).
Feedback on this ‘used forklifts for sale’ guide
Hopefully this guide has helped you know what to look for when you come across a used forklift for sale, and consider buying it. If you have a question or comment, you can send it to us at [email protected]