Zenith Finance Blog

Forklift Finance

Buying a forklift? Things you need to know before you do

Imagine how great life would be if you had a forklift at home?

Rearranging the living room, clearing out the garage and moving the fridge would no longer be annoying distractions from the game on TV, but a form of entertainment that footy would struggle to match.

Not to mention all the money you’d save on chiropractor fees…

A nice thought. However, back in the real world, forklifts are a big financial investment for small or medium sized businesses – let alone weekend couch potatoes.

Questions to ask when buying a forklift

If you’re buying a new forklift, it’s important you do a bit of research so you get a vehicle that can handle your requirements without spending unnecessary money.

Just for starters:

  • How high do you need to lift your loads?
  • Will you be using the forklift indoors and outdoors?
  • How wide are your narrowest aisles?
  • How many hours per day will the forklift be used?

Types of forklifts

There are so many different types of forklifts to choose from. Here are some of the varieties:

  • Hand pallet truck
  • Walkie low lift truck
  • Rider low lift truck
  • Towing tractor
  • Walkie stacker
  • Rider stacker
  • Reach truck (small forklift, designed for small aisles)
  • Electric counterbalanced truck
  • IC counterbalanced truck
  • Telescopic handler
  • Sideloader
  • Slip Sheet machine
  • Walkie Order Picking truck
  • Rider Order Picking truck
  • Very narrow aisle truck
  • Truck Mounted Forklift / Sod Loads
  • Gas Forklift
  • Electric Forklift
  • Plus all the forklift attachments

Important things to know about forklifts

Load dimensions and weight

Forklifts are rated for loads at a specified maximum weight and a specified forward centre of gravity. Make sure your load doesn’t exceed this weight and dimension.

The size of your typical load will determine the capacity you need. Forklift capacity is usually based on a 600mm load centre, meaning that the distance from the centre of gravity to the sides of the load is 2 feet.

In other words, a forklift can only lift its maximum weight if the load is a four-foot cube. If your loads are unusually long or high, it won’t be able to safely lift as much.

Forklift steering and stability

Many forklifts are rear-wheel steering to make it easier to manoeuvre. Of course, this can feel strange for new drivers so don’t skimp on training.

Forklifts can be quite unstable. Don’t turn at speed with a raised load, or it could cause the vehicle to tip-over. And never use forklifts as personnel lifts without fitting safety equipment, such as a cage or cherrypicker.

Do you really need fries with that?

It’s easy to get excited about top of the line forklifts with all the trimmings. So think carefully about what you really need and don’t purchase something that has cool, but expensive, extras you’ll never use.

Warehouse design

If you’re buying a forklift for a warehouse or distribution centre, make sure your building can accommodate your new purchase. For example, is there a big enough storage bay to place and retrieve a pallet? Do you have guide rails on the floor? Are the aisles wide enough?

Be sure to keep up with training

If you have a fork lift accident, OHAS will investigate your training and licensing procedures and can impose big fines if you haven’t followed by the book.

Shop around and get the ‘real’ cost

Once you have a better idea of what you need, visit a few dealers to compare prices. Make sure the cost includes all accessories you’ll need, such as drum handlers, cages, clamps, etc and the warranty level you want. If you get an electric forklift, batteries and chargers might set you back a few thousand extra.

With prices for new forklifts ranging from $5000 to $100,000 this is not a purchase you can afford to take lightly. Do your research up front, compare prices and be disciplined about the type of forklift you really need and you’ll be far more confident and comfortable in your decision making.

Need some help financing you forklift purchase?

We can put together a forklift finance package that gives you:

  • the best possible tax and GST advantages
  • easy to manage cash flow benefits
  • flexible payment options

Find out more about how we can help you with forklift and other industrial equipment loans.

Read 8 tips for financing your forklift.