In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Some of the most common maintenance issues 
  • Ways to prevent them 

How Many Years is the Span of a Foklift?

When purchasing a forklift, the maintenance required may be a secondary factor after the purchase price. However, forklifts last about 10,000 hours. However, this can vary depending on the lift truck model and operator behavior. For example, not getting regular service checkups or heavy operator braking can cause your forklift to dbreak down faster.

A broken-down lift truck can destroy a business’s productivity and cause safety issues. A planned maintenance schedule increases your lift’s service life and reduces long-term forklift repair expenses. We have identified ten common problem areas that can occur with any brand of forklift. Educating yourself on these issues can prevent downtime and keep your forklift running properly.

Toyota IC Core Forklift

1. Leaks

Forklifts use multiple components like clamps, hoses, and O-rings in the hydraulic, drivetrain, and cooling systems. These components experience a lot of stress that can cause leaks over time. Another problem could be incorrectly installed or maintained leaks and loose or missing hardware. 

Prevention: Check hoses for signs of wear. A regular maintenance plan

can help spot wear before leaks start.

Also, look out for loose-fitting clamps during your daily inspections. A regular maintenance plan can help spot wear before leaks start.

2. Travel & Lift Problems

A forklift mast can fail, causing the forks to raise or lower impropely. 

A mast can fail due to broken wires, faulty switches, battery issues, debris in the fuel system, and hydraulic pump failure due to fuel system issues.

Prevention: If you’re having Toyota forklift mast problems find and replace/fix exposed wires,

And properly maintain the battery, and clean the fuel system.

3. Failure of Accessories

You can find safety accessories like horns, alarms, and lights on any forklift. These components are often damaged durng forklift operation or from failure over time.

Accessories will stop working because of broken wires, dirty contacts/pins, blown light bulbs, malfunctioning assemblies, or blown fuses.

Here are a few more parts to consider adding to your lift:

  • Integrated cameras
  • Weather cap
  • Guidance lasers
  • Seatbelts

Prevention: Clean electrical contacts for the accessories and grease with dielectric grease to help reduce wear. Replace light bulbs as soon as possible.

4. Not Starting

It’s not uncommon for a forklift to show no signs of issues, then one day it just won’t start. In this sense, forklifts can act much like personal vehicles.

A dead battery, compromised connection to the battery, fuel system leaks/blocks, bad starters, and broken wires are the most common reasons why a forklift won’t start. There may also be issues with the spark plugs and fuel-air filters.

Prevention: Clean the fuel system and battery terminals. And contact us to have a certified technician take a look at your lift truck.

5. Battery Problems

All forklifts will have a battery. Internal combustion forklifts use a battery to start the machine, and an electric forklift uses a battery as their power source.

Battery issuescan be caused by a dead or dying battery, a damaged connector, or a bad alternator.

Prevention: The first sign of a bad IC battery is that the forklift won’t start. Electric forklift batteries require regular watering and to follow a regular charging schedule. Be sure to water the forklift right before each shift. 

6. Running Rough

The main reasons that cause a forklift to run rough are leaks from the regulator, a dirty throttle body, a blocked fuel filter, a weak/dead battery, broken wires, and leaking vacuum hoses. Other issues for a propane forklift may include low fuel, fuel valve turned to the “off” position, improperly fitted fuel couple, or a clogged air filter.

Prevention: You should clean the throttle body, clean the regulator, and replace the fuel filter.

7. Check Engine Light

Like personal vehicles, forklifts will notify the operator of potential issues with an illuminated warning icon.


The issue triggering the light will vary case by case, but the most common reasons include bad sensors, contacts, switches, wires, and incorrect fuel/air mixture. Some other issues may be low engine oil levels, clogged air filters, and faulty spark plugs.


Prevention: These issues are hard to prevent and usually happen unexpectedly. Best practices to prevent failures are limiting excessive heat, cleaning debris, properly watering batteries, and keeping the fuel system clean. If you notice the light reach out to us for service work.

Buttons and switches seem to cause the most electrical-related issues.

8. Electrical Problems

The most common causes of electrical problems are malfunctioning switches, broken wiring, loose hardware, blown fuses, and corrosion. Also, check the battery, which may need replacement, and look for leaks and low fluid levels.

Prevention: Keep electrical components clean and dry. Tape exposed wires or low-hanging wires.


9. Seats and Seat Belts

After years of use, seat belts and seats can become worn and eventually need replacement.

Prolonged use is the main cause of damage to seats and seat belts. Damage can also occur from loose hardware on belt mounts and seat rails. Another issue could be the seat wasn’t properly attached using the proper bolt pattern.

Prevention: To prevent these issues, operators should not carry sharp objects. Tools in pockets or secured belts can puncture seats or fray seatbelts. Also, avoid resting objects on the seat. Taking care of this issue prevents injuries and improves operator comfortability leading to better productivity.

10. Cooling Problems

Excessive heat is very damaging to many parts of the forklift’s drivetrain. A properly functioning cooling system will help a forklift last longer and avoid costly  forklift repairs.

The most common cooling systems problems are bad radiators, broken water pumps, bad thermostats, broken hoses, and loose hose clamps. Some other issues may be loos of liquid coolant, overheating, or an incorrect temperature gauge reading.

 Prevention: The best thing you can do is regularly clean debris and dust off the radiator and other cooling system components. Our service techs will clean out these components during planned maintenance visits. So, give us a call today!

OSHA Maintenance Rules

OSHA also has specific guidelines in place to ensure you properly take care of your forklift. They cover topics like charging and batteries, fuel handling. and general service/. For example. battery charging station should be in locations designated specifically for that purpose.

Sign up for a Planned Maintenance package and let us handle the preventative work that has been mentioned in this post.