Common Forklift Issues and How to Fix Them

Common Forklift Issues and How to Fix Them

Forklifts are the workhorses of warehouses. They are widely used in different industries to transport materials and products as safely and quickly as possible. While a forklift offers plenty of benefits, it also has its limitations. Without proper care and maintenance, it will eventually break down, causing delivery delays, injuries, and even death. Regular monitoring and maintenance can help prevent these common forklift problems, ensuring productivity and workplace safety.

To help you identify potential issues early on, we’ve  identified some commonforklift problems and solutions:

  • Forklift Not Starting

If you are  wondering “why won’t my forklift start?”, you are probably thinking that it is now useless and you should get a new one. When this happens, it does not necessarily mean the end of the machine’s life. Several factors may have caused this problem, including:

    • Dead or malfunctioning battery – A battery that does not hold a charge requires replacement.
    • Overheated engine – If you noticed that the engine cover is overly warm, check the level of the coolant. Leaks are a common problem with old forklifts. 
    • A blocked radiator – Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate and block the radiator ports. Clean them thoroughly with water to remove the blockage.

On the other hand, if you have a forklift powered by internal combustion, the causes of starting issues can be more complex. Try these troubleshooting solutions:

    • Determine the age of the fuel – Is the fuel in your tank fresh? If the fuel in your tank has not been used for a long time, then it may be the cause of the problem.
    • Check for fuel leaks – If you notice an unusually strong smell of gas, it could indicate a leak.
    • Check the oil level – The fuel valve of some forklift models would not open unless it contains the recommended amount of oil. 
    • Check the battery – If none of the solutions work, it could be caused by an insufficiently charged battery.
    • Check the coolant – If there are no forklift battery problems, check the level of the coolant. Sometimes, overheating prevents the forklift from starting. This can be due to a radiator blockage or lack of coolant. To resolve the issues,  clean the radiator or add more coolant. In case of a severely corroded radiator, be sure to get it a replacement. However, it is best to leave the job to the professional.  

If you encountered some of the power and heating issues and failed to determine the cause of the problem, seek professional forklift repair services.

  • Forklift Steering Problems

It is hard to ignore steering issues, especially during a forklift operation. Poor or lack of steering fluid can affect the ability of the wheel to change direction. 

Additionally, driving a forklift with steering issues can be extremely dangerous as it puts the driver at risk of accidents, which can lead to a potentially fatal injury. If you experience this problem, try the following troubleshooting solutions to avoid such incidents:

    • Check steering fluid – Low steering fluid levels can affect the ability of the forklift to switch directions.
    • Check wheel alignment
    • Check the condition of the gears of the steering assembly – A rusty steering mechanism or worn-out gears can also result in problems with the steering. Be sure to replace damaged or worn-out parts with genuine spare parts to extend the life span of the machine.

If the forklift produces weird noises when you are steering it, it could indicate a rusty steering mechanism, insufficient steering fluid, or misaligned tires. Other factors include pressure valve problems or worn gears. Be sure to perform a regular inspection for these common forklift issues. If the problem is due to low steering fluid, simply add more. Replace thick and viscous fluid with a fresh one. Otherwise, contact a professional to repair complex mechanical problems.

  • Mast Issue

A problematic mast is a common forklift mechanical issue.

The mast controls the lifting, lowering, and tilting mechanism of the forklift. The forks attached to the mast carry loads and the hydraulic piston located in the centre of the mast powers the carriage. The hydraulic power of the piston enables the mast to lift loads and gravity helps lower loads. 

While it is essential for forklift operation, it can be a common source of problems. The forklift carries loads in several stages, which can trigger different issues with the mast, including failure to lift or lower properly and sluggish or jerky lifting and lowering mechanisms. 

If you have any issues with your mast, check the level of the hydraulic fluid. However, if the levels are normal, test the forklift chains to check for any damaged components that require replacement. Daily use can cause the sections of the mast to become rusted, bent, stretched, cracked, twisted, or misaligned. If a component needs replacements, call a forklift technician to repair forklift hydraulic problems

  • Forklift Engine Overheating

When the engine overheats, it causes the forklift to shut down. That is why you need to monitor the coolant system, check the radiator, remove blockages, and clean the machinery regularly. Ensure that the thermostat is working properly as it will alert you when the temperature of the engine becomes unusually high. 

  • Worn-out Tires or Suspension

One of the most common mistakes of many forklift operators is their inattention to the tire conditions. Like car and truck tires, forklift tires are an important component to ensure forklift safety and performance. Subject to the pressure of heavy loads every day, the condition of the tires can eventually deteriorate and has a significant impact on the safety and stability of the forklift. 

Prevention Matters

Encourage operators to complete their daily forklift checklist

Poor maintenance can cause the forklift to break and put the safety of the operator at risk. That is why it is crucial to ensure the regular maintenance of the forklift

Operators should complete the daily forklift maintenance checklist:

  • Check the fluid levels (coolant, steering, transmission, etc.)
  • Look for any signs of leaks
  • Ensure that the horn is in working condition
  • Make sure that the brakes work
  • Proper tire condition and pressure
  • Functioning strobe or flashing light
  • Working backup alarm system
  • Proper operation of hydraulic functions
  • Smooth steering function

If you encounter any problems while filling in the checklist or during the shift, be sure to deal with them before using the forklift again. Depending on the forklift type, you may need to take additional steps and temporarily cease operation to avoid the risk of someone getting hurt using the faulty forklift.

Installing a forklift rear post offers additional protection to operators from a potential underride accident. Call Lakeport Metal Craft today at 416-587-5809 for more information about The Backbone® or how to get one for your forklift units.

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