The Smart Shopper’s Guide to Buying a Pre-Owned Forklift

Purchasing a pre-owned forklift can be a cost-effective alternative to buying new. However, it requires careful consideration to ensure you get a reliable machine that meets your operational needs without unexpected costs down the line. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the process of buying a used forklift.

  1. Define Your Requirements

Determine Usage: Understand the specific tasks the forklift will perform, including load capacity, lift height, and the operating environment (indoor, outdoor, or both).

Frequency of Use: Assess how often and for how long the forklift will be used. This helps determine the acceptable level of wear and tear on a used unit.

  1. Research and Select Forklift Types

Match Forklift to Need: Based on your requirements, decide which type of forklift is appropriate — whether it’s a counterbalance, reach truck, pallet jack, rough terrain forklift, or telehandler.

Fuel Type: Consider whether you want an electric, propane, diesel, or gasoline model based on your work environment and fuel availability.

  1. Source Reputable Dealers or Sellers

Dealer Reputation: Look for a forklift dealer with good customer feedback and a strong track record in the industry.

Private Sale Considerations: If buying from a private seller, be extra diligent in assessing the forklift’s condition and maintenance history.

  1. Inspect the Forklift Thoroughly

Physical Inspection: Check for signs of damage, wear on the tires, the condition of the forks, and any oil leaks.

Maintenance Records: Ask for the service history and maintenance records to ensure the forklift has been properly cared for.

Hours Meter: Check the hours meter as it can give you an indication of how much the forklift has been used.

Operational Test: Operate the forklift to check how it drives, lifts, and maneuvers. Listen for unusual noises and observe any excessive emissions.

  1. Consider the Forklift’s Age and Warranty

Age of the Forklift: Find out how old the forklift is. The age can affect the availability of parts and the machine’s longevity.

Warranty: Some used forklifts may still have a portion of the manufacturer’s warranty remaining, or the dealer may offer their own warranty.

  1. Evaluate Total Cost of Ownership

Upfront Cost: While a used forklift will be less expensive upfront, consider the additional costs over time.

Maintenance and Repairs: Estimate the ongoing maintenance costs and potential repairs that may be needed soon.

Operational Costs: Factor in the costs of fuel, insurance, and any modifications or attachments you may need.

  1. Secure Financing if Necessary

Financing Options: If you’re not paying cash, look into financing options that are available for used equipment.

  1. Negotiate the Price

Market Value: Research the market value for the forklift model you are considering to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Negotiation: Don’t be afraid to negotiate based on the forklift’s condition, age, and any discrepancies found during inspection.

  1. Finalize the Purchase

Documentation: Ensure you receive all necessary documentation, including the bill of sale, service records, and any transferable warranty information.

Delivery Arrangements: Coordinate the delivery of the forklift to your premises, and inspect it again upon arrival before finalizing the deal.


Buying a pre-owned forklift can significantly save you money, provided you do your due diligence. Paying attention to the details of the forklift’s history, condition, and suitability for your needs will help you make a wise investment. By following this guide, you can approach the purchase of a used forklift with the confidence of an informed buyer.

Compare Used Forklift Prices

Looking to buy a used forklift? Decisions regarding used forklift acquisitions and used forklift rentals require due diligence and cautious analysis before you complete the transaction. The most common questions that should be asked about buying a used forklift are: how many are needed, the average life span of a forklift, rotation or how it is to be used, and whether or not to buy a new or used forklift? Finally, you have to find a dealer or site that has a large inventory of used forklifts for sale so that you can compare prices and find the one the best meets your requirements. The correct decision in the beginning of this process could save you a lot of money, efficiency and productivity. Involvement from management to operations is critical, and should include the operators and mechanics that will operate the used forklifts. No matter how or what you decide for your forklift requirements, we are here to help you find the best and most cost effective new or used forklift for sale, forklift rental, or forklift lease. Our U.S. Forklift Dealer Network can provide you with hassle-free no-cost used forklift quotes and information. Just take a moment to submit your request and we’ll do the rest.