4 Expensive Forklift Repairs and How to Prevent Them

by Michael Holt on May 11, 2017
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4 expensive forklift repairs and how to prevent themForklifts and other material handling equipment are rugged machines, built to work hard, but they’re not invincible. All too often we end up doing expensive repairs on equipment that could have been avoided had the machine been properly maintained.

Your equipment is an investment and proper maintenance will help you maximize its value. Many problems start out small; catch them early and avoid a big pain in your checkbook. Wait too long and it’s going to cost you: time, labor, and productivity.

But you can benefit from the mistakes of others. Below are a few recent examples - from real TMHNC customers - of four expensive repairs that could have been prevented.

Cutting corners can be very costly. Some of the most common preventable reasons that result in calls for repair include:

- Fluid levels that are not regularly checked
- Batteries that have not been maintained (lack of water being the most common issue)
- Tires damaged by rough floors or debris on the site

An Aging Forklift Needs Extra Attention

One of our customers had an older fleet and no planned maintenance. While you’d never want to neglect a forklift, newer lift trucks can handle it a little better than old ones. With older machines, there’s a higher chance of failure if you don’t change the oil on time.

The repair bill was over $4200 after forklift mechanics had to rebuild the engine head assembly (including the cooling system). Also, the operation was without a forklift for three weeks. Regular oil changes and scheduled maintenance could have prevented this.

Regulator Inspections Can Prevent Costly Radiator Replacement

Another customer without a service plan had a forklift breakdown and needed to replace the forklift’s radiator, air filter, fuel filter and have a tuneup. The cost was $2700 (the radiator by itself was $1600) and the forklift was offline for three days. If this customer had a forklift technician inspecting their equipment regularly, the radiator could have been repaired instead of replaced. Replacing a bad hose for $30 can save thousands.

Electric Equipment Needs Maintenance Too

We also sell and service small electric utility vehicles like golf carts and personnel carriers. Unfortunately, one customer neglected to do any maintenance on his vehicle. Yes, it’s true, electric vehicles need service too. 

In this instance, the brakes failed. Lack of maintenance caused damage to the brake drum, calipers, and cables. The repair bill was $1500 for an electric cart that cost $10,000. Ouch! Luckily there wasn’t any property damage.

The moral of the story is: do your due diligence and have electric vehicles inspected every couple of months. Though we’ve talked about brakes, the biggest concern is the batteries. If your electric forklift won’t hold a charge, don’t wait. Call a professional to evaluate the battery’s condition.

Your Forklift Talks to You - Do You Know What It’s Saying?

When a forklift technician inspects your machine, they do more than just check the fluids. They look for early signs of trouble: is the lift forklift making unusual noises? Are the brakes soft, etc. One of our customers called us recently because their forklift would only go forward, it wouldn’t turn. The steering had gone completely out. Though it seemed to occur out of the blue, this problem happened gradually, but no one one recognized the signs.

The best way to maximize your equipment investment is through planned maintenance.  Have a professional inspect it regularly and perform recommended maintenance - on a schedule that works best for your operation. Forklift technicians are highly-trained professionals with a sixth sense for forklifts. Let them be your eyes and ears - and help save you money on repairs.

Our factory-trained forklift mechanics can do many repairs on site. If needed, we’ll bring your equipment in for service and can provide temporary equipment to keep your business fully-operational. Contact us for more information on planned maintenance or to schedule service. 

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Topics: Service, Forklift Maintenance