Key Features To Look for When Buying a Forklift

We all remember our first time buying a car. Walking onto the car lot, we were thrilled and overwhelmed by the myriad options available to us. You may feel the same when it comes time to buy a new forklift for your fleet.

But you aren’t new to the forklift game any more than you’re new to the world of driving a car. With experience and a thorough knowledge of your operation, it’s easy to know the key features to look for when buying a forklift.

Load Capacity

How much weight a forklift can lift is likely the most pressing question on your mind as a fleet owner. If your company is hauling 4,000 lbs. loads, you naturally want a forklift that can handle that weight. But keep in mind there is more to understanding your forklift’s load capacity than reading the number on the data plate.

If your company plans on using attachments to lift specialized loads, that will detract from the lift truck’s load capacity. If the loads you plan on carrying are awkwardly shaped, the loading capacity will also be off. In these scenarios, you may need to look for a forklift with a higher load capacity.

The Mast

You should also figure out how tall your forklift should be. Companies will usually give you two different figures: the mast height and the lift height.

Mast Height

The mast height refers to how tall the mast itself is. It will be written either as the extended height or collapsed height. Extended height is the distance from the floor to the top of the mast when it’s fully extended. Collapsed height measures from the top of the mast to the forks when the mast is collapsed.

Both are important features to consider when buying a forklift because they help determine how well your forklift can move through spaces with limited overhead clearance. This is crucial if your warehouse or factory has low ceilings or your loading dock has small doors.

Lift Height

Lift height refers to the height a machine can lift its forks. In other words, how high it can lift loads. To select the lift height you need for your facility, determine the highest point your forklift would need to reach. For instance, you might use the height of the tallest shelf in your warehouse. When you find the highest point, add six inches to it. This is the lift height you’ll need for your forklift.

Forklift Width

Most forklifts are designed to navigate narrow warehouse aisles. However, not every warehouse is the same. Some, by necessity, have aisles even narrower than average. In this case, it’s important to consider the width of the forklift, how well it makes turns, and how wide it would be when lifting the loads in your warehouse.

If a standard forklift is too wide, consider a forklift designed to travel through narrower spaces, like order picker or side loader forklifts.


Different settings have different terrain challenges, and we meet these challenges through different types of tires. Cushion tires work well on the smooth flooring of a warehouse, while pneumatic tires work well in the rugged world of construction.

While you can typically swap tires if the forklift doesn’t come equipped with your preferred type, some forklifts cannot support certain types of tires. If you’re thinking about swapping tires after buying the forklifts, ask if it’s possible before finalizing your purchase.

Safety Features

Safety is paramount in forklift operations. Although safe forklift operation falls largely on the shoulders of operators and those working around them, managers can help protect everyone in their company by choosing forklifts equipped with safety features.

Features such as seatbelts, horns, overhead guards, and lights should come standard on any forklift you consider. Additionally, look for features like:

  • Orange forks for increased visibility
  • Lights that change color depending on if the forklift is driving forward or reversing
  • Back-up alarms
  • Alarms that alert operators if someone is too close to the forklift

Toyota Forklifts also come with the features System of Active Stability (SAS) and Active Mast Control (AMC). SAS electronically controls the forklift to prevent tip-overs with speed reduction while cornering, an active steering synchronizer, and leveling controls. AMC helps monitor a load when the forklift is extended, adjusting it if it tilts too far forward or backward.

Type of Fuel

The debate between internal combustion and electric fuel sources has been a long one in the forklift world. Ultimately, one is not inherently better than another. But one might be better suited to your company’s resources and needs.

Internal combustion forklifts typically have a lower initial cost and work well even in settings prone to moisture or excessive dirt. You can also refuel them quickly and you don’t need a large station to do so. Electric forklifts are perfect for indoor use, especially in facilities where ventilation is a challenge. Although the initial price is higher, facilities save money in the long run, in fuel and maintenance costs.

Employee Comfort

In recent years, businesses have put a greater emphasis on ergonomics in their workplaces. Usually, people apply the idea to jobs where employees have to sit at desks for extended periods. But forklift operators often sit in their forklifts for just as long. Managers should pay attention to how supportive forklift chairs are as well as how well the forklift handles bumps.


Buying a used forklift is a great way to save money for your company. However, a used forklift is more likely to have wear and tear on it. It’s important to look for the following before making your purchase:

  • Tire chunking or cracking
  • Gaps in the mast chain
  • Cracking in rubber seals
  • Oil and other leaks
  • Corrosion on the battery
  • Bent or cracked forks
  • Corrosion on the body

Also, be wary of companies resetting the odometer. If there is more wear and tear than is suggested by the odometer, be wary of purchasing the forklift.

Manufacturer Support

When you purchase a forklift, you also purchase the services of the manufacturer. Choose a company that will continue to offer support after you’ve purchased the forklift.

That’s why we don’t only provide quality Toyota Material Handling equipment for sale. We offer forklift repair and safety training to support you and your company. Contact us today for more information.

Key Features To Look for When Buying a Forklift