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Forklift Terminology Part 4: Types of Forklifts & Tyres

Filed under: Forklift Basics

Today we have come to the final part of the Forklift Terminology Series. Forklift Types & Tyres 

Forklifts Types

A forklift is also known as a lift truck essentially because it’s a truck that can lift loads using a set of forks. A forklift can be used in numerous places such as warehouses, factories, farms, shipping yards and much more. There are many types of forklifts which can be called a variety of different names; in this case we will use the basic names of the forklifts when describing their capabilities.

Types of Forklifts

  1. Pallet Trucks & Walkie Stackers (Class II): Typically used for moving pallets and crates of small loads at ground height.
  2. Electric Warehouse Equipment (Class II & III): Stand-on or ride-on used in small spaces and are quite manoeuvrable and can lift small to medium loads. (i.e. Reach trucks, order pickers and turret trucks)
  3. Electric Counter Balance Forklift (Class I): Used to lift medium to large loads with a battery powered engine, making it less pollutant (more suitable for indoors) with lower operating costs.
  4. IC (Internal Combustion) Engine Trucks (Class IV & V): The most commonly used forklift normally outdoors. This type of forklift is typically cheaper to purchase and lifts heavier loads, and works in all types of weather running off liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), liquid propane, diesel and compressed natural gases (CNG).
  5. Big Trucks: can lift extremely large loads up to 48 tons (e.g. shipping containers to a very high height).

Forklift Tyres

Tyres are extremely important as they will help manoeuvrability and functionality of your forklift. Improper use and poor maintenance of tyres can lead to increased costs to your business. The tyre you choose will be dependant on the location and environment your forklift will work within for the majority of its time. There are typically three different types of tyres which include:

  • Pneumatic: Used in unpaved yards and on rough terrain surfaces.
  • Pneumatic Profile Puncture Proof (Semi-Solids): Used on sealed surfaces and areas where punctures may be an issue.
  • Cushion: Used on more compact model forklifts in warehouse applications.
  • Non-Markers: Made to eliminate black marks on the floor.

Many factors both external and internal can affect your forklifts tyre life. Problems can arise from miss treated tyres such as punctures or bursts which can result in damaged forklifts, loads or even cause injuries to employees. It can also be a hassle to order a replacement tyre as it will take time before your forklift can be in action again and your calculated budgeting will be affected. Below are some factors that you may like to take into account when choosing & maintaining the proper tyres and ensuring your tyre has a long and useful life.

External factors

  • Truck type
  • Load conditions
  • Application: working cycle
  • Floor conditions
  • Driver
  • Risk for external damage

Internal factors

  • Tyre construction
  • Thickness of thread layer
  • Profile
  • Heat build-up
  • Choice of rubber compound
  • Non marking tyres are softer and wear faster

This concludes our Forklift Terminology Series. We hope everyone has benefitted by reading this 4 part series, whether they are completely new to forklifts or not. Also it should have sparked some thought or discussion which will help you ask more questions, and make a more informed decision when deciding to purchase or rent a forklift in the future. If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you all for reading and good luck for all your future forklift decisions.

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Next entry: Forklift Rental: Why Renting May Be Right For You

Previous entry: Forklift Terminology Part 3: Stability & Manoeuvrability


How many types and functions of forklifts? Can you explain this? 

Truck Hire
December 25, 2012 - 5:07 pm

Hi there,

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by how many functions, as there are many different types of forklifts with different functions. However, we like to group our Hyster forklifts into the 5 groups mentioned in this post (under Forklift Types). There are however other different types of equipment that we haven’t covered.

AAL Admin
January 09, 2013 - 9:21 am

Can you comment on asile width required of the various types of the forklifts for distribution warehouses covered above?


November 10, 2013 - 3:43 am

Hi Toby,

When you talk about distribution warehouses, you’ll most likely be looking at equipment such as pallet trucks, walkie stackers, electric forklifts, reach trucks, which all fall under warehouse equipment.

Aisle width is dependant on the size of the equipment being used, as well as the size of the loads you are handling. So it is obviously different depending on a number of factors. For narrow aisle equipment such as reach trucks and narrow aisle forklifts like the Aisle-Master, it can be as low as 1.75m, whereas if you are using an electric forklift, aisle widths will be much larger.

Hope that helps.

AAL Admin
January 24, 2014 - 2:50 pm

Hi, what are the dimensions of the rough terrain forklift ( W,H,&L)?

alberts ndayisaba
February 13, 2014 - 1:07 am

Hi Alberts,

It depends on which rough terrain forklift you are talking about and which model, as all will probably have different dimensions. What capacity rough terrain forklift are you after?

AAL Admin
March 04, 2014 - 12:23 pm

Dear Sirs,
The articles on this blog are valuable. Keep it up. I have some questions. While you categorize forklifts in Five types; You use criteria their function, power source and lifting capacity.There are classes in the brackets of each type. CLASS I,II, and III. What are those classes stand for? If they are for the lifting capacity, What are the range of tons, iN NUMERIC FIGURES?

Best regards,

June 05, 2015 - 5:36 pm

Hi Kibrom,

The classes are not lifting capacity specific, they are based on the fuel type of the equipment as well as how the equipment is used.

AAL Admin
July 03, 2015 - 11:16 am

Very well done. I am a Safety professional and have been involved in training for more than 30 years. I have been in manufacturing and industry nearly 50 years. These are among the best segmented training modules I have seen. You can use the information the day it is reviewed, or provide refresher training in specific areas as necessary.


Well Done                    

Dan Goodrow
March 21, 2018 - 10:57 pm

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