You can get a used forklift for a fraction of the cost of new if you know how to prioritize the necessary features.
Any machinery investment for your warehouse is going to be just that – an investment. It will be a purchase that meets today’s needs, but it will also have to be forward-thinking. It must meet the growth expectations of the company, and not become outdated within the year.
When you’re ready to invest in a major purchase like a fork lift, you’ll want to know your options. It’s a long-term decision, and you need to ask the right questions of the seller. For new fork lifts, the cost can range from $20,000 to more than $100,000. That’s right – it’s almost like buying a house, and it’s certainly like buying a luxury car! Make sure you test drive it!
If you can’t afford that luxury car investment right now, you can get a gently used or previously owned fork lift for a fraction of the cost if you know how to prioritize the features that are necessary for your business to be a success. Here are a few tips:
Technology Test – Is the pre-owned fork lift working on updated or outdated technology? How do you tell? By talking with industry experts and dealers, you can determine whether or not the technology is here to stay or if it was a bust and that’s why the fork lift is for sale in the first place. You can also see what types of fork lifts your competitors are using. Most importantly, does the technology match your company’s needs and is it compatible with what you’ve already established in your warehouse?
Maintenance Manual – has the pre-owned fork lift had regularly scheduled maintenance? Ask to see the records and ask about any major repairs. Sometimes a major overhaul is a good thing, because it increases the life of the fork lift. Other times, a major issue is a major issue, and it’s concerning. Your warranty on used fork lifts is probably minimal. You should discuss it anyway, because the original warranty may include some protection for the life of the vehicle. If you are buying a used fork lift from a dealer, ask about continuing the maintenance plan with them and also include service needs. Find out their service policy and the time it takes to obtain service.
Parts Preservation – be sure that parts are still available for the make and model of fork lift you’re buying. How do you get the parts? How long does it take? Who installs them? Look at all the key parts that could be potential replacement challenges – tires, engine, front loader. If you can’t have easy access to parts, it may not be worth the lower price. If any of the major parts look like they are close to retirement, negotiate that into your offering price, or ask if the seller will replace them before you buy. For example, if the tires are bald, factor in the cost of new ones that are compatible with your warehouse needs.
Clean Machine – You can tell a lot about a fork lift from the dust and debris in the crevices. If it has dirt and grime on it, you can safely assume it was more than gently used. Those dust particles will be coming with the fork lift into your warehouse, affecting your product and your warehousing systems. A clean fork lift in your warehouse means a better operating system and less wear and tear. Also note the fork lift’s engine type and exhaust system. Will they both meet your warehouse standards or requirements?
Drive Time – Just as you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, don’t buy a fork lift without getting some time behind the controls. If you’re not the fork lift driver normally, bring your operator with you and let him or her put the vehicle through some paces. Drive it down wide and narrow aisles, back it up, use its lifts both up and down, and actually move some pallets with it. You’ll know if it’s satisfactory by the way it performs. If it has been well maintained and serviced and has done similar work to that of your warehouse, it’s probably a done deal. If you have reservations, keep looking. The ride might be a little bumpy, but the end result will be good as new.