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How Often Should a Forklift Be Serviced?

How Often Should a Forklift Be Serviced?

How Often Should a Forklift Be ServicedMaintaining your forklift is the best way to prevent expensive repairs. You wouldn’t skip an oil change on the family vehicle, right? The same applies to your lift truck. You take care of it, and it will take care of you.

Internal combustion-powered forklifts need service every 250-300 hours. Filters need to be replaced, parts need to be greased and you can find small problems before they become expensive repairs. 

  • At 500, 1,000 and 2,000 hours, there are additional parts that need to be checked, adjusted or replaced
  • Some forklifts require service more frequently
  • Electric forklifts should be serviced every 500 hours

Below is a sample annual maintenance schedule for IC (Internal Combustion) and electric forklifts — a general list of what to service (and when) to avoid expensive repairs. This example schedule is for illustrative purposes only. Always follow manufacturer-specific guidelines for your forklift.

How Often Should a Forklift Be Serviced?

As mentioned above, internal combustion forklifts need service every 250-300 hours. Hours are measured using key hours (the amount of time the forklift is switched on), or pedal hours.

An average single-shift operation that uses their forklift(s) 2,000 hours a year should have their forklifts serviced about every 60 days. A forklift may need service more frequently if:

  • It operates in extreme temperature conditions or a dirty/dusty work environment.
  • Your business has seasonal spikes - because the 1,000 and 2,000-hour services take a little longer to complete, you're better off getting them done prior to peak season to avoid downtime when you need your equipment the most.
  • It uses an attachment - because attachments cause the forklift’s hydraulics and cooling system to work harder 

Sample Forklift Maintenance Schedule

Below is an example one-year maintenance schedule for an IC forklift used by a single-shift operation. As mentioned above, some forklifts need service more often, and you should always follow manufacturer recommendations.

Every 250 Hours/Two Months

  • Change engine fluids and filters
  • Check/adjust engine idle speed and ignition timing 
  • Lubricate chassis and mast components
  • Inspect the hydraulic system and mast
  • Check belts, hoses, the drive train, steering and electrical system
  • Blow out and inspect the brakes 
  • Inspect tires for damage and wear
  • Inspect attachments (if applicable)

Every 500-600 Hours/Four Months

  • All items in the 250-hour service above
  • Replace the: antifreeze, spark plugs, differential and transmission oil, contact breaker (points) and condenser
  • Check/adjust the chassis links, clutch release bearing and mast support bushing 
  • Inspect the hydraulic oil pump and check the hydraulic oil level hydraulic filter (replacing if necessary)
  • Clean the radiator
  • Inspect the chains for damage and proper tension, check the mast operation, inspect carriage rollers, lift and tilt cylinders for proper function
  • Asses pedal free play
  • Check/adjust hand brake
  • Inspect the PCV valve  

Every 1,000-Hours/Six Months

  • All items in the 250 and 500-hour services above
  • Change all fluids and filters including (but not limited to) hydraulic, transmission and brake fluid
  • Lube drive hubs

Every 2,000-Hours/Annually

  • All items in the 250, 500 and 1,000-hour services above
  • Hydraulic pressure check
  • Cooling system check
  • Inspect steer axle
  • Inspect brake drums (replace if necessary)
  • Compression check
  • Clean and check fuel system

What About Electric Forklift Maintenance?

One of many reasons electric forklifts are so popular is their low cost of ownership. There are comparatively few parts to replace and they require minimal maintenance compared to internal combustion forklifts. 

Minimal maintenance doesn’t mean zero maintenance, however. Electric forklifts have brakes, ties, and other parts that eventually wear out.

Generally speaking, electric forklifts should be inspected and serviced about every 500 hours. On an electric lift truck, “hours” are measured using drive motor/hydraulic running hours. An electric forklift service call should include:

  • Checking the motor for proper operation
  • Inspecting the cables (vibration can shake the cable loose, causing significant damage)
  • Lubricating moving parts
  • Inspecting the battery and verifying whether it’s being properly maintained by operators
  • Confirming the forklift’s lights, accessories and any attachments work properly
  • Conducting a thorough safety inspection
  • Providing documentation for OSHA/resale

Do Forklifts Really Need Service That Often?

We know staying on top of forklift maintenance can be a challenge for busy managers.

  • It may seem like an unnecessary expense when the forklift is running well. 
  • Or it just falls through the cracks

But there’s no getting around the fact that skipped maintenance is an expensive repair waiting to happen. It’s like buying cheap work boots or low-quality tools. You might save a few hundred dollars in the short term, but you’ll lose money eventually when that forklift breaks down.

Correctly maintaining your forklift also allows you to:

  • Keep it under warranty
  • Get a better trade-in value
  • Avoid accidents and expensive OSHA fines
  • Maximize uptime
  • Improve fleet efficiency

A maintenance plan is an inexpensive way to protect your business against expensive downtime. You pay a flat rate every month, and an experienced technician ensures your forklift is taken care of. When you sign-up for maintenance from The Lilly Company, you can relax knowing:

  • Every maintenance visit includes a thorough safety inspection
  • All our forklift technicians are factory-trained

Our team can create a maintenance plan tailored to your operation. We don’t use a cookie-cutter approach; we take the time to listen and understand your operational needs. 

The Lilly Company is proud to serve customers throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and eastern Arkansas. Contact one of our forklift maintenance experts online or by phone (800-238-3006). Or, come say hello at one of our 13 locations across the Mid-South.

Arkansas - Jonesboro
Alabama - Birmingham, Dothan, Irondale, Madison, Mobile, and Montgomery
Mississippi - Tupelo and Richland
Tennessee - Jackson, Kingsport, Knoxville, and Memphis

Further Reading:
How to Avoid Overspending on Forklift Service
Why Are My Forklift Tires Wearing Down So Quickly?
Why Outsourcing Forklift Planned Maintenance Makes Sense

Forklift service and repair