Forklift Maintenance: The Essentials

A forklift is the workhorse of any business whose operations involve heavy lifting and material handling. Forklifts are needed to lift, move, maneuver and place large heavy loads safely for extended periods of time. Like any piece of equipment, forklifts are subject to wear and tear. The wear on most equipment is usually not a big deal and doesn’t require immediate attention. But on forklifts, there are forklift maintenance procedures that need to be enacted in order to keep employees safe and product from damage.

To keep your workhorse running and your employees safe, here are some essentials of forklift maintenance and safety that you should make yourself aware of.

Forklift Maintenance Schedule

The first step in any forklift maintenance program is to establish a maintenance schedule. Consult the forklift operator’s manual for the manufacturers recommended maintenance intervals and follow them. Any good forklift maintenance schedule should include daily, monthly, 90 day, semiannual and annual inspections and replacements.

Creating and following a detailed forklift maintenance schedule will ensure that you extend the longevity of your forklift and minimize the potential for any costly repairs.

Daily Inspection

As part of the maintenance schedule, the forklift operator should check for fluid leaks, damage and tire condition on a daily basis. The operator should also examine and test the safety lights, brakes, steering and horn.

Before lifting any heavy material, the operator should inspect the operation of the mast by raising it without a load. This will ensure that the mast is working before applying a load force, which can damage the system if there is a problem.

Click here for a great example of a detailed daily maintenance regimen for forklift operators.

The Engine

For internal combustion engine forklifts, the engine requires the same care and maintenance as a car engine. The operator’s daily inspection should include a check of the engine oil and transmission fluid levels. These fluids should be changed at the manufacturer recommended intervals.

The engine should be kept clean and free of debris. Check the hoses and belts for wear and leaks and replace as needed.

For internal combustion forklifts, check the engine air filter, spark plugs and distributor cap on a monthly basis. Clean or replace if necessary.


Making sure the forklift tires are in good shape is not only a preventative maintenance concern. It is also a safety issue. If the tires are in bad shape or under-inflated, they can fail and result in an unbalanced or uneven load falling from the pallet and causing damage or injury.

Before every use, check the forklift’s tires. If your forklift has pneumatic tires, use a tire gauge to make sure they are within the recommended pressure limits. If you have cushion tires, inspect them for any gashes or tears that may get worse during operation.

The Forklift Mast

The mast element of a forklift is its most distinctive and functionally necessary feature. It doesn’t matter how well

the engine runs or how new the tires and brakes are, if the mast “lift” element of a forklift is malfunctioning, you are left with a very interesting looking car.

Before each use, check the mast, fork and carriage and interlocking rail areas of the forklift for any debris or objects that may interrupt lifting. Check the fork for any unusual bends or cracks. Check for signs of wear and keep all moving parts on the mast assembly well lubricated.

Ensure that the hydraulic fluid for the lift cylinder is filled to the recommended level and free of dirt and debris. In general, the hydraulic fluid and filter should be changed after every 1,000 hours of use. Check with your manufacturer for machine specific intervals.

Inspection of the tilt and lift cylinder operation should be conducted monthly. Make sure it is freely moving without excessive friction. Lubricate as needed.

Forklift Maintenance with Reno Forklift

Performing the proper maintenance on your forklift will include the replacement of parts, such as fuel filters, air filters, hydraulic filters, fork assemblies and other forklift essentials. At Reno Forklift, we provide high quality forklift parts and accessories for all your forklift maintenance and repair needs. Serving the Reno, NV area for over 50 years, Reno Forklift also offers products and parts for a number of material handling equipment and needs. Come take a look at our catalog of products and contact us today!

Nevada Contractor License | #00085110 #0085114
California License | #813810
171 Coney Island Dr.
Sparks, NV, 89431

(775) 329-1384