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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.  

TYRE

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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