Forklifts for Sale: Types, Leasing Versus Buying, & More

Need a forklift? Explore our ultimate guide to forklifts for sale, including leasing and buying options. Find the best forklift for your needs and budget today!

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In successful warehousing and fulfillment, the forklift is the star player. This hardworking machine handles the heavy lifting, helping you easily move, load, and unload products. But how do you choose the right forklift for your needs? Should you buy or lease? Where can you find reliable forklifts for sale near you?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about forklifts for sale, including whether you should buy or lease. You’ll learn about the different types of forklifts and how to find the one right for you and your budget. We’ve even got some maintenance tips to keep your forklift running smoothly.

What are Forklifts, and Why Do You Need Them?

Forklifts are potent machines commonly used in warehouses, factories, and construction sites to move heavy materials from one place to another. Imagine a small truck with two metal forks sticking out from the front. These forks slide under a pallet or load, lift it off the ground, and then carry it to its destination.

So, why would you need one? Well, forklifts make life much easier when dealing with heavy items. They can do the job of many people in a fraction of the time, saving you both labor costs and effort. Whether you’re stacking boxes in a warehouse or moving construction materials, a forklift can be an invaluable asset. They help to improve efficiency, speed up work, and, most importantly, make the workplace safer by reducing the need for manual lifting.

What are the Different Types of Forklifts?

Here are some of the distinct types of forklifts, their characteristics, and typical applications:

Warehouse Forklifts:

Warehouse forklifts are widely recognized, resembling golf carts with twin forks extending from the front. They find extensive use in facilities with a large inventory, aiding in loading, unloading, and transporting items to and from delivery vehicles. Their loading capacity ranges from 1 to 5 tons, with some heavy-duty models capable of lifting up to 25,000 pounds. Popular models include the Hyster 36-38T, Komatsu 20 BX50 Hyster, and the Toyota 3-Wheel Electric Forklift. Their primary use is for raising and transporting items over short distances.

Side Loader Forklifts:

Side loaders, a subtype of warehouse forklifts, are common in steel service centers and manufacturing facilities handling heavy, long, and bulky items like pipes and lumber. They feature a sideways compartment allowing the operator to drive up alongside racks for loading and unloading without turning, ideal for navigating narrow aisles and handling long loads.

Counterbalance Forklifts:

Counterbalance forklifts are commonplace in warehouses, featuring forks at the front and a weight at the rear to offset the load’s weight. They lack extending arms, enabling direct access to the load. Variants like the 3-wheel counterbalance forklift are apt for situations demanding tight 360-degree maneuvering.

Telehandler Forklifts:

Telehandlers, or telescopic forklifts, amalgamate the functionalities of a crane and forklift. They boast a boom and extendable arm with twin forks for lifting pallets off the ground. A standard telehandler can lift 5,500 pounds to a height of 19 feet, making them invaluable for reaching into tight spots and awkward angles.

Heavy-Duty Forklifts:

Also referred to as large-capacity forklifts, these heavy-duty machines meld the capabilities of warehouse forklifts and telehandlers. While they might not reach awkward angles like telehandlers, they excel in lifting heavier loads significantly higher off the ground. The lifting capacity starts at a hefty 30,000 pounds, with some models boasting a monumental 100,000-pound maximum lift.

Rough Terrain Forklifts:

Specifically designed for outdoor job sites with uneven surfaces, rough terrain forklifts, also known as straight mast forklifts, are necessary for outdoor applications and construction sites. They have oversized, threaded pneumatic tires, providing better balance and stability on rocky ground. These forklifts can lift heavier loads, with most models boasting a capacity of 6,000 to 8,000 lbs.

Pallet Jacks:

Also known as pump trucks, pallet jacks are compact and specialized for lifting small loads in tight quarters. They are available in manual or electric versions, offering a cost-effective solution for maneuvering pallets over short distances in confined spaces. Their low acquisition and renting costs, alongside a small footprint, make them a practical choice for many businesses.

Walkie Stackers:

Walkie Stackers are distinct in design as they lack cabs; the operator walks behind and steers them using an attached handle. Though they compromise on power, maneuverability, and speed, they excel at lifting pallets to greater heights than traditional pallet jacks, making them a go-to choice when a taller pallet jack is needed.

Order Pickers:

This subtype of walkie stacker is utilized for picking and delivering materials from storage, reaching up to 32 feet to lift operators to warehouse racks for picking individual units. They are ideal for customer order warehouses and storage facilities, allowing for the picking of individual units without the need to bring down entire pallets. Their design accommodates handling items of various sizes, from auto parts to furniture.

Reach Trucks:

Primarily used indoors, reach trucks can extend their forks beyond the compartment to access warehouse racks in a manner standard forklifts can’t. They feature an open compartment for enhanced operator visibility and are perfect for precise pallet picking in indoor environments. However, their design isn’t suited for outdoor work due to minimal undercarriage clearance.

Electric Forklifts:

Electric forklifts, powered by rechargeable batteries, are known for their clean and quiet operation, making them well-suited for indoor use. While their upfront cost is higher compared to Internal Combustion (IC) forklifts, they tend to be cheaper over their lifetime. Despite being capable, some electric forklifts may not handle tough outdoor conditions as effectively as their IC counterparts.

Internal Combustion (IC) Forklifts:

IC forklifts are akin to automobiles and are ideal for outdoor use due to their robustness. They offer a lower initial cost and are excellent for long runs, high speeds, and handling ramps. Fueled by gasoline, diesel, or propane, IC forklifts can lift over 35,000 lbs, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications like brick and lumber yards. However, they require good ventilation for indoor use due to their emissions, and they entail higher maintenance and fueling costs.

Articulated Forklifts:

Articulated forklifts are versatile and designed for indoor and outdoor operations, especially in narrow aisle density storage conditions and high-level shelves. They facilitate a safe and fast-operating warehouse environment, allowing for lifting from the side, which means shelves can be placed closer together as no turning circle is necessary.

What are the Tips to Find the Right Forklift for Sale?

When looking for a forklift for sale, it’s crucial to take a methodical approach to ensure you’re making a sound investment. Here are some tips to guide you through the process:

  • New vs. Used Forklift: Delve into the debate of whether to go for a new or used forklift by weighing the pros and cons of each. Evaluate the pricing and determine which option aligns with your budget and operational needs.
  • Understanding Your Needs: If you’re a first-time buyer or re-entering the market after a long hiatus, take time to understand where to commence. Acquaint yourself with the basics of buying a forklift to navigate the process smoothly.
  • Identify the Right Model: Determine the model that best suits your organization’s needs, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the different types or models of forklifts.
  • Know Your Shop: Assess where you’ll be using the forklift. If you have a smooth concrete floor and will be moving loads within your warehouse, your needs will differ from those using the forklift outdoors on rough terrain. Also, consider the height requirements and ensure the forklift can handle more weight than you anticipate.
  • Account for Long-term Costs: Consider long-term costs like fuel storage for propane forklifts or charging areas for electric forklifts. Discuss these aspects with the seller to make an informed decision.
  • Test Drive: If possible, have a licensed operator, preferably the one operating the machine, test each unit to evaluate factors like mirror placement or visibility.

What are the Benefits of Purchasing a Forklift?

Acquiring a forklift can significantly boost your operational efficiency by enabling quick and easy movement of materials. Here are some benefits:

  • Customization Options: Buying a forklift allows customization to meet specific workplace requirements. Whether it’s custom attachments like chain hoists, jib cranes, or fork extensions, owning a forklift provides the liberty to modify it to precise standards.
  • Tax Deductions (Section 179): Section 179 of the IRS tax code permits businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment, like forklifts, from their gross income. For many small businesses, the entire cost of qualifying equipment can be written off on the tax return up to a certain limit ($1,040,000 for 2020, $1,080,000 for 2022/2023). This tax incentive encourages businesses to buy or lease new or used equipment, ultimately aiding in managing upfront costs and reducing tax liability.
  • Better Warranty: New forklifts often come with substantial warranties covering many aspects should any parts or components fail during the initial period of operation, providing peace of mind and cost savings on repairs.
  • Stronger Long-Term Value: Buying a forklift is a better long-term investment than renting. Although renting may seem cheaper in the short term, the long-term value derived from owning a forklift, including the option to sell it later, is more economically beneficial.

When is Leasing a Forklift a Better Option Than Forklift for Sale?

Here’s a deeper dive into the instances where leasing a forklift could emerge as a more attractive option compared to buying:

  • Adaptability to Demand and Seasonality: If your business experiences fluctuating demands or high seasonality, leasing a forklift can offer the flexibility to scale up or down based on your current needs, which might be more difficult with a purchased forklift.
  • Upfront Cash Conservation: Equipment leasing requires less upfront cash compared to purchasing a forklift outright, which could be beneficial for businesses with cash flow concerns or those wanting to conserve capital for other investments.
  • Avoidance of Depreciation: Leasing allows you to avoid the depreciation of owning a forklift, which can be a significant advantage if you prefer not to have depreciating assets on your balance sheet.
  • Maintenance Considerations: If your facility doesn’t have a dedicated equipment maintenance staff, leasing might be a better option, as maintenance could be included in the lease agreement, depending on its terms.
  • Newer Equipment Access: Leasing provides an opportunity to have access to newer, more advanced forklifts with the latest safety and performance features, which could lead to better efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

What are Some Maintenance Tips for Forklift Owners?

Maintaining your forklift well is essential for its longer life, safety, and better performance on the job. Here are some maintenance tips for forklift owners:

  • Routine Checks: Before operating the forklift, check the engine oil and water levels, ensure the fuel tank is properly connected and has enough fuel, and check the levels of coolant, brake, and hydraulic fluids. Look out for cylinder and hose fluid leaks and ensure the air filter is clean. Operate the brake to ensure it works smoothly without slowness or blocking.
  • Regular Service: Typically, a more thorough maintenance check is conducted after 200 hours of work or monthly. This includes changing the engine oil, cleaning the air filter, and inspecting for any cracks that appear.
  • Transmission, Brakes, and Leaks: Check the transmission fluid for the appropriate level, color, and odor. Examine the brakes, test the brake pedal height and free play operation for proper adjustment. Inspect for leaks in the pump, cylinders, hoses, and valves.
  • Follow Manufacturer and Industry Standards: Adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations and specific industry standards while conducting maintenance checks.
  • Plan Maintenance: Plan your maintenance schedule proactively to minimize disruptions to your production schedule.

Maintenance Responsibility:

  • Leasing: When leasing a forklift, the terms of maintenance may vary based on the lease agreement. In some leases, the leasing company is responsible for maintenance, while in others, maintenance may be the lessee’s responsibility. It’s essential to understand the lease terms regarding maintenance responsibilities clearly.
  • Purchasing: Upon purchasing a forklift, the owner is responsible for all maintenance, repairs, and service. Options for handling maintenance include Comprehensive Service Agreements, service on request from a professional forklift repair company, or in-house equipment repair. Preventative maintenance and repair costs are the owner’s responsibility.

Choosing the Right Forklift for Sale for Better Efficiency!

Need a forklift that’s perfect for your business? We’re here to help! At Warehousing and Fulfillment, we know our stuff and use that knowledge to help you make smart choices. Best of all, we’re not selling anything. We give you FREE quotes from trusted sellers so you can pick what’s best for you. And don’t worry, there are no hidden costs. Just fill out our quick quote form and get ready to boost your business with the right forklift!

FAQs about Forklifts for Sale

What is the Most Popular Type of Forklift?

The most popular type of forklift is the Counterbalance Forklift due to its versatility and ease of operation in various environments.

What Type of Forklift is Best?

The best type of forklift depends on the specific needs of a task or operation, such as a Rough Terrain Forklift for outdoor and uneven surfaces or a Reach Truck for narrow aisles and high shelving.

Why Hire a Forklift?

Hiring a forklift can provide cost-effective, flexible solutions for temporary material handling needs, especially during peak operational times or for special projects requiring additional equipment.

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