In this article, you”ll learn:

  • The definition of forklift capacity 
  • How to calculate it
  • Factors that impact capacity 


When operating or owning forklifts, safety should be top of mind. A lift trucks’s load capacity is an important topic to understand. This article will explain the key points of load capacity to help clear things up.

What is a Forklift's Load Capacity and Net Capacity?

The load capacity is the amount of weight that can be lifted by a forklift. Loads must be centered when lifting to max heights or carrying at max capacity. The net capacity or payload capacity is the weight a forklift can lift when accounting for attachments, mast style, or any other add-ons. 

How Do I Find My Current Forklift's Rated Capacity?

Locate the data plate, which spells out the load the forklift can safely lift, even when fitted with attachments. In addition to load capacity, the data plate will show information like the brand, model, serial number, max lift height, load center distance, tire specs, and forklift weight.

How Do I Read a Load Capacity Chart?

The load capacity chart will have multiple sections of useful information. Some of these include:

  • Brand name
  • Model serial number
  • Forklift class
  • Mast type
  • Front tire tread
  • Tire type

The model number can help figure out  the carrying capacity and load center. And the serial number allows service technicians to match parts and gather more info about your lift truck

Toyota Data Plate example

Load Center

You might hear the term load center or see it on a data plate. The load center is simply the middle of a forklift’s load. To break this down further, it’s the distance from the front of the carriage to the center of gravity of the load. You can find this information on the forklift’s data plate. 

Lift Height

The max lift height affects a forklift’s capacity. Forklifts with higher masts will have a greater carrying capacity when operating at lower lift heights than at the maximum lift height. These high mast forklifts often have two capacity ratings on the data plate; a maximum capacity up to a mid-level lift height, and a lower capacity rating at the max lift height.

How Much Weight Does the Forklift Hold?

A forklift has a capacity of 3,000 lbs. to around 70,000. One thing that can impact the lifts trucks’ capacity is weight, size, and position. For example, if the load is irregularly shaped, has unbalanced weight distribution, or the fork isn’t centered, the overall capacity may be lower. Attachments for forklifts like clamps, multiple load handlers, rotators, and fork spreaders are very common to help operations meet unique needs or improve efficiency. Attachments have the potential of reducing the load capacity. When installing an attachment to a forklift, update the data plate to reflect the new capacity specs.

Here are a few other factors to consider when loading your forklift:

  • Maximum load moment
  • Balance
  • Stability


If you aren’t sure what capacity you need, the best thing to do is to contact your local Toyota material handling dealership. Before you contact your

dealer, there are four questions you should prepare to answer.

  • How heavy is your typical load?
  • What is the maximum height your load will need to be lifted to?
  • How wide is your largest possible load?
  • Will you need an attachment?

Once you understand the right capacity for your forklift consider additional attachments to increase efficiency.