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Common Forklift Problems and Their Causes

forklift repair

Forklifts are one of the most widely used utility vehicles in the world. Malfunctions of any sort can cause a reduction in productivity, property damage, or worse they could cause injuries. It’s important to be familiar with both standard maintenance procedures and the warning signs that something is wrong. Here are some of the most common forklift issues and how to troubleshoot them.

1. Engine does not start, or it starts, but idles poorly.

This common problem can be caused by several things, including:

  • A dead or malfunctioning battery. If the battery doesn’t hold a charge, chances are it will need to be replaced.
  • An overheated engine. If the engine cover seems overly warm, check the coolant level. As forklifts age, leaks become more of a common problem with forklifts.
  • A blocked radiator. Dirt and debris can accumulate in the radiator ports. Use water to clean them out if they are blocked.

If none of the above works, you’ll need to call a professional to fix the problem.

2. Sluggish or unresponsive Hydraulics

Another common complaint is a forklift that simply will not do its job. Sometimes this problem manifests as slow-moving hydraulics, maybe the mast even appears to be stuck in place, either way slow moving hydraulics indicate a problem. These problems could be something as simple as low Hydraulic fluid. Leaks in the tubing can also impede the forklift’s operation, and are not something you want to tackle, these hoses handle extremely high pressure, and a puncture, abrasion or break can be lethal. As a final note your masts chains will stretch over time causing the forks to drag which damages both the forks and your floor, make sure the chains are measured and replaced as needed.

3. Steering is stiff

A forklift that’s hard to manoeuvre is a serious hazard. Unfortunately, poor handling is another common problem. Usually, the cause is a decrease in fluids, but there are several linkages, bushings, etc. which can wear out, become bent, or even scored, all of these can impair the steer function and require professional attention.

As soon as you notice a forklift isn’t handling the way it should, the forklift should be removed from use to prevent accidents and injuries.

Prevention Matters

A forklift that’s in bad shape is much more likely to break and pose a risk to the safety of your employees. That’s why regular maintenance is important.

Before getting on the forklift, you should complete your daily operator’s checklist which will include a large number of items, some of which are:

  • Checking fluid levels
  • Looking for leaks
  • Check for broken or missing mirrors
  • Does the horn work
  • Are the brakes operating properly?
  • Tire condition and pressure
  • Is the strobe or flashing light functioning?
  • Is the back up alarm functioning?
  • Are all the hydraulic functions operating properly?
  • Do you smell fuel, or something burning?
  • Is the steering smooth?

If you don’t have proper daily checklist which operators are required to complete and initial at the start of their shift, it is something you should get and put in place immediately.

If you come across a problem while filling in the checklist or during your shift, make sure it is dealt with before the forklift is used again. Depending on the type of forklift, additional steps may need to be taken to lock out the forklift, you don’t want to risk someone getting hurt using faulty equipment.

Forklift Repair Experts

In addition to fleet maintenance services, ARPAC provides comprehensive repair services. From forklifts to racking and warehouse design, we support industrial and material handling companies with our locations in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge. Contact us today if your fleet needs professional attention.