common forklift issue

Among all utility vehicles, forklifts see more than their fair share of use. Reduced productivity, property damage, or bodily harm could result from malfunctions. 


Be well-versed in routine maintenance and the telltale signals that something is amiss. Find out what’s wrong with your forklift and how to fix it with these often-encountered problems.

Common Forklift Issues & Their Causes

  1. Engine does not start, or it starts, but idles poorly:

Several causes can contribute to this prevalent issue, such as:

Your battery is dead or not working correctly. The battery probably needs replacing if it can’t retain a charge.

The engine became too hot. Ensure enough coolant in the engine if the cover gets too hot. Forklift leaks are more likely as the forklifts get older.

Heater that is obstructed. The radiator ports are prone to dirt and debris buildup. When clogged, flush with water to clear them.

If those solutions don’t work, it’s time to bring in the experts.

2. Sluggish or Unresponsive Hydraulics

Yet another common forklift issue arises when a forklift fails to perform its duties. At times, this issue can be observed as sluggish hydraulics, perhaps even giving the impression that the mast is immobile. Regardless, the presence of slow-moving hydraulics is indicative of a problem. 

These issues might be as straightforward as insufficient hydraulic fluid. It’s crucial to address any leaks in the tubing as they can seriously hinder the forklift’s performance. Dealing with these hoses is no small matter, considering the immense pressure they handle. 

A puncture, abrasion, or break in the tubing can have fatal consequences. It’s essential to remember that over time, the chains on your masts may stretch, causing the forks to drag. This can lead to damage to both the forks and your floor. It’s crucial to regularly measure and replace the chains as necessary to prevent this.

3. Steering is Stiff

Operating a forklift that is difficult to maneuver can be extremely dangerous. Regrettably, inadequate handling is another common forklift issue. Typically, the problem arises from a decrease in fluids. Still, various components, like linkages, bushings, etc., can deteriorate, get bent, or even be damaged, all of which can affect the steering function and necessitate professional assistance.

When you become aware that a forklift is not operating correctly, immediately removing it from service is crucial to avoid potential accidents or injuries.

4. Deteriorated Safety Equipment

A functional horn is an OSHA requirement for all forklifts. Extra safety equipment, such as lights and alarms, is also necessary. You must ensure that these accessories are promptly fixed so your team can resume utilizing the machine if it malfunctions.

These problems usually start with individual parts, like contacts, bulbs, or pins, needing to be cleaned or worn out. Another possible cause of the problem is a blown fuse or exposed or broken wiring. The forklift issues and their remedies are straightforward in such cases; simply replacing the damaged parts is sufficient. These fixtures can last longer with regular cleaning and maintenance.

A sudden impact caused by operator error can occasionally cause damage. When this occurs, it could be necessary to provide further instruction on safe forklift operation.

Prevention Matters: 

An improperly maintained forklift can easily malfunction, risking your employees’ safety so regular maintenance ensures optimal performance.

Before operating the forklift, it is essential to go through your daily operator’s checklist. This checklist consists of numerous items that need to be addressed, including:

  • Fluid level inspection
  • In search of leaks
  • Ensure that all mirrors are intact and in place
  • Is the horn functional?
  • Are the brakes functioning correctly?
  • Checking the condition and pressure of your tires
  • Is the strobe or flashing light working correctly?
  • Is the backup alarm working properly?
  • Are all the hydraulic functions functioning correctly?
  • Can you detect any odors of fuel or burning?
  • How is the steering? Is it smooth?

It is crucial to have a proper daily checklist that operators must complete and initial at the start of their shift. It is essential to implement this as soon as possible.

Ensure any issues encountered while completing the checklist or during your shift are addressed promptly before resuming forklift operations. It is essential to take extra precautions when securing the forklift to prevent any potential accidents or injuries caused by malfunctioning equipment.

Specialists in Forklift Repairs

Bobby Park Truck and Equipment also offered complete repair services besides fleet maintenance. Our facilities provide industrial and material-handling enterprises with various services, including forklifts, racking, and warehouse design. If your fleet needs expert maintenance, contact us right away.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common forklift issues?

Several problems can arise since forklifts frequently lift items in stages. Lifting too slowly, jerky lifting and lowering, and incorrect lifting are common mast-related difficulties. Problems with steering: Forklifts, particularly in confined spaces, can be challenging to control.

Describe what a four-wheeled forklift is.

These four-way reach trucks can quickly change directions and transport materials in closely packed racking, including pipes, boards, and girders.

Can you name the four most common ways that forklift operators get hurt?

Accidental removal of forklifts from loading docks occurs. Between docks and trailers that are not secured, forklifts tumble. Forklifts bump into workers. Accidents involving workers falling from forklift platforms or tall pallets do occur.

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