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Used Forklifts Tips – Buying Guide | Research: Part 2

Filed under: Used Forklifts

Last week, we introduced our used forklift blog “How To Avoid Buying A Lemon”, today we continue where we left off with 4 steps to researching the right used forklift for you.

used hyster forklift

Step 1: Learning The Basics

When researching a general tip would be to get your hands on as much information as you can and to tackle it with an open mind. After you have read a few articles you will have a better understanding about forklifts in general and of the current used forklift market. If you don’t know much about forklifts try reading our Forklift Terminology Posts

Step 2: Your Requirements


Have a realistic budget in mind, don’t be so unrealistic that you will be left with something bound for the scrap heap but do stick to a budget that a dealer can work with and not talk you out of.

Forklift Size

Trying to work out what size forklift you require can be somewhat daunting. These few easy steps could help point you in the right direction:

  • Is the machine going to be working indoors or outdoors?(If used ONLY inside an electric forklift might be better.  In food based industries it is a MUST.)
  • Size of the aisles the machine will be working in & turning aisle (Right Angle Stacking)
  • Size & weight of your load.
  • Height you need to lift the load too.


  • Low If your company has 1 or 2 employees and will likely only to use a forklift between 3 to 4 hours  per week, you could probably make do with a used forklift that is 11 – 12 years old (15,000 – 20, 000 hours on it). It would likely last you around 6 to 8 years and then it would need to be scraped.
  • Medium If you think your usage would be between 3 to 5 hours per day, you should look for an ex rental unit. This means it previously should have been well maintained & serviced regularly. Ideally the unit should only be around 5 - 6 years old (8,000 – 15,000 hours on it).
  • High A large company using a forklift 7-10+ hours per day should probably buy new or lease a fully maintained unit for 5+ years.  The machine will be used heavily and then you can trade it in or swap it over (in the case of leasing) after approximately 5-6 years.
  • Needs and Wants The last phase of this step is to comprise a list of what you require of your forklift and what your forklift requires from you. To ensure it is realistic, apply it to a real life scenario (Find an example below).


Bob is a small business owner who has opened his business 3 years ago and currently has 5 employees within his company. He has just began importing goods from overseas and can no longer move the loads from the delivery truck/shipping container to his warehouse in a timely and safe manner. Bob does not need to use his forklift everyday, is on a small budget and cannot afford or justify a new forklift. Bob has made a list of what he requires.

Bob will use his forklift:

  • Around 12 hours a week
  • Outdoors
  •       &nbsp-Diesel or petrol powered

          &nbsp-Pneumatic or pneumatic profile puncture proof tiers

  • Doorways are:
  •       &nbsp-2.5m high – forklift overall height will need to be under 2.5 meters

          &nbsp-2m wide – forklift overall width needs to be under 2 meters

  • Racking height is 5 meters - 3 stage mast is required
  • Heaviest load will be around 2 tonne – capacity of forklift will need to be 2 tonne
  • Forklift  lifespan 10 - 15 years before trading in
  • Lifting standard crates (palletised loads) so no attachments are required

Step 3: Search


Once you have worked out your forklift requirements you can either look around online or in classifieds for a machine that meets your needs or alternatively you can directly call a forklift provider with your requirement and let them find the right machine for your needs. Either way have a copy of your requirements with you as follows.

  • Pricing (Compare options to see standard price)
  • Capacity
  • Mast type
  • Lift & collapse height
  • Tyre type
  • Attachments

For some popular makes and models their may be spec sheets available, if possible ensure your needs can actually be met and are realistic by matching them to the spec sheets. Also use the spec sheet to double check that the details of the forklift match with what the dealer has advertised.

Step 4: Ensure Your Prepared When you Call


In addition to your research on exactly what forklift will meet your requirements you should also be prepared with a list of additional questions you’d like to know about the machine you are going to purchase, such as:

  • Year manufactured.
  • Service history.
  • Any previous accidents.
  • How many previous owners (Ex rental fleet will be well maintained).
  • What previous environment was it used in.
  • How many hours has the forklift done (like kilometres on a car).
  • Any specific questions sparked from any of the previous steps.

Also before you ring it might pay to do a little research on the dealer you wish to buy from.  Also ask around either with friends, family or co-workers to see if they have had any past experiences with a certain dealer. When on the phone to the forklift dealer see if they have any other stock that they did not list online or in the classifieds that may also satisfy your needs.

The initial stage of research is extremely important as it builds the foundation for you and prepares you for making the right used forklift purchase.  Next week we will post the third part of this series which covers the physical inspection aspect of the used forklift process. If you have any comments or questions please fell free to leave them below and if you want to stay updated with our blogs subscribe to get email notifications.

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Next entry: An Interview With Wayne Pearce, Big Truck Specialist QLD

Previous entry: Used Forklifts Tips – Buying Guide |  Avoid Buying A Lemon: Part 1