A forklift must be inspected properly and given a test run prior to buying it. This applies particularly to trucks being bought on line. It is important to detect possible problems with trucks obtained from companies on line.
Be certain to start the engine from cold, and note the ease with which the engine turns over and whether there is excessive smoke. This is specifically crucial with trucks that have IC engines.
The test run should include a check of the truck's performance in tough situations. A skilled operator could operate the truck in reverse and forward, up the ramp.
You could inspect an IC engine truck yourself. On a clear area of floor, run the truck around for a few minutes while a skilled operator tests the hydraulic functions. Then, examine the ground beneath for indications of fluid leakage. Even seemingly minor leaking can indicate serious problems that will be very costly to repair later on.
The masts and chains should be checked by a trained person. Check with and without a load that the mast works well. Watch for sticking or 'binding' of the mast. A warning sign is play in the mast channels or between the mast and fork carriage. One more is creeping down or creeping forward of the mast when loaded. These could be signs of problems with valve, seals or ram.
The mast might have been changed at some time if the truck is not new. Make certain that the mast and any fitted attachments follow the rating plate on a truck. Check that the sideshift is not sticking when loaded.
When inspecting the forks, look closely at the heel thickness for wear or damage. The manufacturer of the truck specifies minimum thickness. A loose fit could mean the carriage or hanger points are worn. Watch for cracks on the arms at mountings and heels.