Choosing a Rental Forklift

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rental Forklift

So you’ve decided to rent a forklift… but how do you choose the right one? Choosing a rental forklift can be a trying task. There can be a lot of deviation from truck to truck, so the more information you can gather about your application and needs, the more likely you are to make a good decision. Not sure where to start? Finding answers to the following seven questions can make a world of difference.

1. What are your weight capacity requirements?

Different forklifts can lift different amounts of weight, making capacity requirements the first thing to consider when narrowing down your options. A four-wheel electric forklift may be able to lift up to 12,000 lbs. whereas a three-wheel truck or narrow-aisle truck (typically used in warehouses) may trade a lot of that capacity for better maneuverability. Keep in mind that irregular shaped loads often mean the lift truck can safely carry less weight due to the physics of load center balance, so find out what sort of loads will be moved, how they are packaged and where they will reside.

2. What are your lift height requirements?

Different forklifts have the ability to reach different heights, so never just assume that any truck can reach where you need it to. “Reach trucks”, for instance, can reach racks as high as 30 ft., but a typically four-wheel forklift can safely raise a load 20 ft or more. Be sure to measure all applicable job heights before you start checking lift truck specs.

3. Where will this truck be operated?

Lift trucks can be driven exclusively indoors on smooth terrain or across asphalt, mud, and other rugged terrain… but it will need the right tires to do so. In the same way that a Formula One car with racing slicks wouldn’t do well on a wet highway, indoor forklift tires won’t handle an outdoor job like treaded pneumatic tires might. Know your environment to know which equipment makes sense.

4. How will you power the rental forklift?

Forklifts can run on internal combustion (IC) engines or electric batteries, and there are pros and cons of each. IC trucks, for example, are quick and easy to refuel with gasoline, diesel, liquid propane, but they can be loud and require on-site fuel storage. Electric forklifts, alternatively, have a lower operating cost-per-hour, but require special charging equipment. Think about what makes more sense based on your facility.

5. What is your budget?

Renting may be far less expensive than buying a lift truck outright, but depending on what sort of truck you need and how long you are going to use it, costs can add up. Maintenance of the lift truck is often covered by the company that owns it, so that will likely be factored into the price you pay, but operating costs like fueling or charging the truck are a separate expense.  

6. How do long you need the truck?

There are good reasons to make both short-term and long-term rentals, and knowing exactly how long you will need the truck will help you get the best rental rate. Remember, though, that inventory of lift trucks is naturally limited—especially during peak rental seasons like the Spring—so plan ahead to ensure you get the right equipment when you need it.

7. How will you get the truck to the job site?

This may seem like a silly question, but you will feel sillier if you forget to consider it. You probably are not going to drive a forklift from dealership to job location, so think through whether you are shipping it or having it professionally delivered by the owners.

There are plenty of ways to benefit from a lift truck rental, and thinking ahead is your best bet for maximizing said rental’s effectiveness. Need more guidance? We’re always here to help. For more information on forklift rentals, visit our rental page, or give us a call.

Not sure yet whether you should rent? Check out our post on when renting makes sense.


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