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Forklift Tyres Guide – Understanding Forklift Tyres & Maintenance

Filed under: Forklift Maintenance & Upkeep

There are various types of forklift tyres but the most common are solid or pneumatic. Each tyre has a different tread, compound and ply rating which help to ensure the tyre used will best suit the application. By keeping your forklift tyres in good shape, you will reduce the stress and wear on the transmission as well as the forklift driver. Safety is also significantly improved, along with fuel efficiency.  


Choosing the Right Tyre

There are typically two ways to fit forklift tyres: press on or standard. Press on tyres are reasonably straightforward to fit, however they are less durable when it comes to the more difficult terrain. Standard tyres fit on forklifts the same way as car tyres are fitted.

Tyre size should be decided after calculating the required load on each wheel. In general, it is advised that you pick the tyre that carries the load with the lowest inflation pressure.

Consider the conditions the forklift will be working in and how regularly it will be used. If the forklift is going to run over rough and damaging areas, get a thicker tyre (pneumatic tyre). Solid rubber tyres (or Puncture Proof as they are otherwise known) are now the most commonly used, and are predominately used on even surfaces and are good inside. Polyurethane tyres are used solely indoors.

The following tyres exist in the market today:

  • Cushion tyres - A press on tyre that is made with a metal band and a rubber attached to it. Used only on smooth pavements and warehouses with concrete flooring where space may be an issue as cushion tyres have a turning radius that is smaller than pneumatic tyres.
  • Solid tyres/Puncture Proof - Today the most common tyre. They are the same as pneumatic, however not filled with air therefore they don’t provide a cushioning effect. They do not puncture or go flat and are long lasting. Excellent for indoor use or light outdoor use, but not for rough outdoor or uneven surfaces.
  • Pneumatic tyres - Similar to truck tyres, filled with air, thick, deep tread, strong wear-resistant rubber. They extend the running life of a forklift by providing a cushion effect between the forklift and the ground. For use on uneven and rough surfaces.
  • Polyurethane wheels - Generally used for indoor forklifts. They are normally pressed onto the wheel (easiest way to put on a tyre). They have an adequate level of traction for indoors and possess a ‘small rolling resistance’ that extends their running life. This tyre is generally found on indoor forklifts such as reach trucks and walkie stackers.    
  • Non-marking tyres – Non-marking tyres are solids but specifically designed to prevent black marks on floors. Grocery and food processing factories are required to use them. The main drawbacks of non-marking tyres are that the carbon black is removed from them, which consequently shortens the life span of the tyre.
  • Foam Fill – These tyres are filled with a special resin that provides constant pressure in the tyre whilst preventing punctures. They are designed to be like air tyres in the sense of providing a cushioning effect to the forklift without the risk of getting punctures.

Load & Inflation Pressure

Ensure the air pressure of your tyres is at the correct level. They should be checked every month; taking into account that the heat buildup from use can increase the pressure by around 15 psi.

  • Never lower air pressure by bleeding, it can increase the heat build up
  • Cover all valves with caps to prevent dirt getting inside

Proper Driving

To get the greatest usage out of your tyres, good driving habits are essential. Refrain from quick spinning, sudden starting, or breaking movements. High speed cornering, locking one wheel for sharp turns also wears out the tyre quickly. By avoiding these bad driving habits, you will find your tyre life to be significantly improved.

Storing Tyres

Avoid storing tyres for longer than a few months. They should be stored in a dark, cool, dirt/oil free area and away from active electric engines.

A frequently asked question about tyres is: How long do solid tyres last compared to pneumatic tyres?

Answer: Depending on usage, a solid tyre will normally outlast a pneumatic tyre. Usually you would go through 2-3 sets of air tyres (pneumatic) to 1 set of solid tyres.

There is a large variety of forklift tyres on the market that will accommodate the needs of your forklift. Whether it is a pneumatic tyre for rough outdoor terrain, or a polyurethane tyre for smooth-surfaced concrete inside your warehouse, there are tyres out there to support you!

If you have any questions about tyres that you would like us or other readers to answer please post them below. Also if you have any interesting stories about your own forklift tyre experience or preference from one tyre to another we would love to hear them.

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Next entry: Forklift Daily Checklist; Pre-Operational And Operational Checklist

Previous entry: Choosing The Right Forklift Fuel Type Part 3: Gas


Hi, Can you answer a question for me regards Solid over Pneumatics
? How does the fitting of Pneumatic tyres affect the load rating of a machine compared to solids,

Regards Neil    

neil dumesny
February 08, 2013 - 8:28 am

Hi Neil,

Great question. Yes, the load rating of the machine will be affected depending on the type of tyres you have fitted. It may only be a small change, but it is still a difference. The actual difference will depend on the tyres and the type of equipment you are using.

Hope that helps.

AAL Admin
February 08, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Thanks for that and I know all things would need to be considered, But on average according to the link below it would be only 20 to 30 kgs around about???  “BUT” Again the load plates fitted don’t list a rating at full rear tilt??  Only vertical and Full forward tilt, “SO vertical rating would not change until the mast could not be kept vertical,  Would you agree?
  Regards neil    

neil dumesny
February 08, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Hi Neil,

Thanks for the link, nice article.

Yes it would only be a small amount as you have suggested, and the vertical load rating would still be affected based on the type of tyres (even if it was just a small amount). Obviously forward tilt even more so.

AAL Admin
February 08, 2013 - 3:44 pm

What are the rules/laws regarding tyres? We have solid rubber tyers and the service tech (same guy who sold us the fork) insists that the 3 out of four bald tyers are fine. I am not so convinced.


May 07, 2013 - 12:45 pm

Hi Justin,

So you have solid, puncture proof tyres (no air inside)? Are you sure you don’t have cushion tyres?

AAL Admin
May 07, 2013 - 5:50 pm

I’m not an expert but it does day “solid” on the side wall. Can I post a pic?   

May 08, 2013 - 8:04 am

Hi Justin,

Yes you can send a photo to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you like.

Here is a link to some presentations given at the AITA National Forklift Safety Week 2012:

If you scroll down to slide 59, there is some information on tyre wear that may prove useful.

AAL Admin
May 09, 2013 - 9:56 am


May 09, 2013 - 7:58 pm

Is there a recommended tire for driving in and out of a warehouse so that the tire does not collect a lot of dirt or debris?  We drive across from one warehouse to another on dirt collecting concrete into a warehouse that needs to be remain clean from debris because manufacturing of disposables for foodservice prdocuts done in same building.   

January 16, 2014 - 4:05 am

Thank you                        

July 29, 2015 - 3:48 pm

Hi,  could you please elaborate a little bit more about the difference of solid rubber tyre and cushion tyres? is it still solid tyre, but with smaller turning radius?
Non-marking tyres are white on the surface?                   

January 13, 2016 - 2:40 pm

                        Hello! I need to know The number of hours that should a tire be use full, in The right sur face.
I need a Survey or research or technical opinion related to The lifehours/tiretype/surface.

Soledad lama
April 28, 2016 - 11:09 am

                I would like to asked if solid tire doesn’t explode.

May 16, 2016 - 5:47 pm

hi can some one tell me wich is the best brand for solid tires the operation is outdoor, 250x15 and 650x10 .                       

May 28, 2016 - 10:20 am

hi can some one tell me wt kind side roller used in electric forklift for operating in rack
rack width 4 feet 3 inches
equipment width 3 feet 9 inches

gagan yadav
June 24, 2016 - 10:06 pm

hi, can some one tell me how to reduced Tyre damages   in rack
equipment width 3 feet 9 inches with Tyre tolerance
rack width 4 feet three inches
how many type side roller weld in equipment…...

gagan yadav
June 24, 2016 - 10:21 pm

          We have got 3.5 T capacity electric forklifts with solid Tyres, which we use indoor & outdoor also but on concrete roads. The speed if 15km/hr. Usage is around 12 hours per day. However the Tyre life is only 6 months. Which tyres are suitable for this type of work which are more durable.           

July 13, 2016 - 8:30 pm

                      Very interesting and informative. I almost got the information I was searching for. Thanks.

sam finixx
July 25, 2016 - 2:56 pm

I like your tip to make sure that the air pressure of the tyres is at the correct level. Should you check the pressure after use or before yo avoid heat buildup? How should you lower the pressure if it is too high? Thanks for sharing this great information!

April Cook
August 05, 2016 - 3:53 am


I cant seem to put air into my solid tyres… cant find the valve your talking about. I have try pumping air around it. Pressure still reads as 0.                       

September 16, 2016 - 3:49 pm

Do tyres need tread when used on public highway , is there a legal. Requirement regarding tread depth , cheers and thanks in advance

September 24, 2016 - 3:28 am

Hi Simon,

As mentioned in the blog solid tyres are not filled with air.

In regards to tyre tread for public road use, you are best to contact the roads authority in your local jurisdiction as road rules will vary.                     

AAL Admin
October 03, 2016 - 10:53 am

Hi, we have solid rear tyres on our Komatsu 25 forklift and the thickness is starting to wear down. Are you able to tell me at what point them are no longer considered legal. Is it a thickness of the tyre or something else?

October 13, 2016 - 7:03 am

Very interesting and informative article. we as a tyre manufacturer hope all drivers and riders pay more attention to these tips to have safer rides and roads.

Finixx Tyre
November 10, 2016 - 2:38 pm

Hi ,I am currently working on a uni project .The unit will carry a load of 30Tonne,the unit itself will weigh 10tonne.We are thinking of using solid tyres,can you recommend a rim and tyre that could cope with this load.

Declan Bonner
November 11, 2016 - 6:42 am

Hi Declan Bonner, all our big trucks are fitted with dual pneumatic tyres to handle their own weight but also the large loads they carry.

AAL Admin
November 14, 2016 - 10:23 am

      we are Frozen and Chill Product Warehouse Storage. Daily load and upload the goods from Truck and the floor always wet with water. Which Tyre should be use for forklift and Reach Truck.

December 15, 2016 - 3:33 pm

    what is the expiry of solid tyre ?(how long we can use)

March 08, 2017 - 11:13 pm

  We have a number of forklifts at work with solid tyres that worn close to the J61 limit. Is it ok and safe to regroove the tyres at this point.

Randal Canning
May 16, 2017 - 7:13 am

    Thanks for posting detailed specification on tire terminology.

Solid skid steer tires manufacturer
May 16, 2017 - 10:06 pm

                      Please tell me the Is standards for solid forklift tyres including size and material standards

Vinodh Kumar k
June 21, 2017 - 6:50 pm

    We need to know the limit of the solid cushion tires,  till what level we should use the tires, we have concrete flooring warehouse and using 2.5T capacity forklift carrying 1.375mt of load 24/7.
Appreciate if you clarify the tire usage level or the formula.                 

Irfan Kamal
July 27, 2017 - 4:05 pm

    Please help me to understand the tyre size reading in industrial tyres for exmp15*4,5*8                    

shashi kapoor
February 05, 2018 - 6:54 pm

                I have a 6.50 x10 tire on a Toyota lift truck and would like to go wider for better traction can I replace the rims to do so do they make a tire wider for the stock rim

April 21, 2018 - 3:26 am

  dear sir / madam
will you pls inform me if the soft surfs Couse to damage tires
and best regards                        

giuma zaide
May 10, 2018 - 9:18 pm

hi. any idea the lifespan for load wheels of reach truck life Nichiyu? thanks.                       

June 28, 2018 - 5:57 pm

I have just purchased an old Toyota 6 Diesel 1.8T. It has solid tyres. It is mainly going to be used outdoor, and the tyres battle with grip in sand/grass.
I see there is plenty of space around the front tyres to the mudguard in front. Can I fit bigger tyres to make it less prone to dig into holes? At the back there seems to be much less space for bigger tyres   !             

g kaiser
August 02, 2018 - 2:22 am

What are the difference of solid tire wheel(rim) & pneumatic wheel rim.             

Muess Kv
November 04, 2018 - 8:07 pm

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