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3 min read

The Risks of DIY Forklift Repair

The Risks of DIY Forklift Repair

The Risks of DIY Forklift RepairWe can all picture him. The wise, old mechanic in faded overalls and a well-worn ball cap rebuilding gasoline engines under a shady tree. He's the archetype of the ultimate technician. A comforting, mechanical savant who can fix anything with only his trusty, dented, red toolbox. The trouble is he doesn't exist.

Modern forklifts are specialty equipment requiring specially trained repair people to fix and maintain them. Without that particular know-how, your DIY forklift repairs could cost you an arm and a leg. So, read on to learn what repairs are okay to do yourself, what should be left to professionals, and how you can save money on forklift maintenance overall.

Forklift Repair: Amateur or Professional?


The DIY mentality is undergoing a resurgence. A quick search on Google or YouTube is enough to turn up dozens of resources explaining how to repair anything, including your forklift. While it can be tempting to try to save money by making in-house forklift repairs, it's a massive financial gamble to do most forklift service on your own.

DIY Forklift Maintenance

In a perfect world, qualified forklift technicians would pamper your fleet daily. Since that isn't an option for most organizations, it's realistic to handle some forklift maintenance in-house. Modern forklifts are sophisticated machines that have more in common with modern cars than pallet jacks. Likewise, it's best to avoid doing any work on your forklift that you wouldn't do on your personal vehicle. Limit DIY tinkering to basic maintenance tasks like:

  • Daily inspections
  • Top-off fluid levels
  • Water batteries
  • Change some filters
  • Add or replace easy-to-install after-market upgrades

Professionals should handle anything beyond these tasks. Forklift repair and service requires more specialized knowledge than many realize, despite the many how-to videos out there. It is surprisingly easy to misdiagnose, incorrectly assemble, or damage your machine during DIY repairs. These errors increase the total repair price and can even void your OEM warranty.

Expert Forklift Service

The manufacturer trains skilled mechanics to troubleshoot, diagnose, maintain, and repair all forklift problems on a given model. As such, factory-approved technicians should conduct most types of forklift service:

  • Engine trouble
  • Transmission issues
  • Electrical or computer errors
  • Radiator or cooling repairs
  • Worn gears
  • Corroded lines
  • Braking and steering system repairs
  • Hydraulic system repairs
  • Leaks
  • Grinding noises

A technician’s work is insured, and their wealth of experience makes repair work faster and higher quality. They also perform preventative maintenance that can eliminate the need for most repairs. Ultimately, a reputable service provider can save you thousands compared to the cost of a botched DIY repair.

Save Money on Forklift Problems

Preventative maintenance is the best way to save money on your forklift repairs. This professional service prevents forklift problems before they occur, saving you money and downtime. In fact, preventative maintenance is so effective that a service plan is four times less expensive than as-needed repairs. After accounting for revenue lost to unplanned downtime, some emergency repairs cost 15 times more than the service plan that would have prevented them.

Beyond regularly scheduled preventative maintenance, there are three attitudes you can adopt to save money on your forklift service.

1. Don’t Wait for Failure

Anyone who says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," has never dealt with the expense of unexpected downtime. If something doesn't seem right on your forklift, do not wait to have it evaluated by a qualified technician. Very few failures crop up without warning, and repairing a forklift before a failure is often less expensive. Radiators, for example, can cost thousands of dollars and days of downtime to repair. However, replacing a $30 hose could prevent many radiator failures.

2. Use Quality Parts and Service

Cheap third-party parts and bargain-basement service providers might seem like a great idea when the budget is tight. However, when it comes to forklifts, you get what you pay for. Non-factory-approved parts may not hold up to the demands of frequent use. They could even void your OEM warranty, leaving you on the hook for even greater repair costs later.

Likewise, it's best to use only factory-certified forklift technicians. These reputable technicians have the knowledge and skills to offer real solutions for forklift problems. Other technicians are more like band-aids. They might get you through the day, but they probably haven't solved the underlying issue. Finally, the work of factory-approved technicians maintains your warranty, whereas other service providers do not.

3. Look After Older Forklifts

As a forklift ages, it can be tempting to pay less attention to 'Ol Reliable. However, aging trucks are less tolerant of irregular maintenance than newer models. Old forklifts are more prone to failure without preventative maintenance, leading to unexpected downtime and increased repair costs. Yet, if appropriately maintained, older models will continue to perform admirably, extending their economic lifespan.

Your Forklift Maintenance Teammate

When your plate is full, adding preventative maintenance to the mix can be overwhelming. Let us carry the load with one of our custom maintenance programs. Our factory-certified repair technicians will come to your site on your schedule to repair, service, and maintain your forklifts and all other types of material handling equipment. Whether you have one truck or a fleet, electric or IC, our team can build a service plan that meets all your needs. To learn more or to sign up for a maintenance program today, contact us online or visit one of our Mid-South locations:

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

Further Reading

Forklift Warranties: What Is And Isn’t Included
Fast Forklift Repair That’s Done Right
Should You Repair or Replace Your Old Forklift?

Forklift service and repair