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4 Questions to Ask When Buying a Forklift

Purchasing a Forklift from Sunbelt Industrial Trucks

Buying a forklift can be a challenging process. Forklifts are an expensive business investment. And, if you want to make sure you are getting the best deal and most suitable model for your needs, the decision requires quite a bit of industry knowledge, research and diligence.

The best way to go about purchasing a forklift, or any piece of heavy equipment, is to step back, take a deep breath, and answer these five questions.

What Is My Budget?

The answer to this question will considerably narrow down your forklift selections. Perhaps from a few thousand models down to a few dozen. By starting here, you know what models are in your price range and affordable and which ones are just a pipe dream. Furthermore, it will help you understand what financing options you’ll want to pursue. Do you plan on renting or buying? If buying, will it be new or used? And remember, some dealers allow forklifts to be leased or financed to meet cashflow requirements. By first establishing and setting your budget, you can avoid wasting time and resources reviewing products that you just can’t afford.

What Capabilities Must the Forklift Have?

Each forklift has its own unique benefits and features that separate it from others in the fleet. You should select the one that is most suitable to meet your needs. You’ll want to understand what you need in terms of fuel type, capacity, speed, lift height and what attachments you might want to add that may help your truck be more productive and safer. These factors can help dictate your forklift selection.

Forklifts vary by capabilities. Purchasing one that cannot complete the necessary work is pointless (and dangerous). On the other hand, buying the most powerful forklift (and spending big bucks for it) to execute simple tasks that other, less expensive machines could perform doesn’t make sense either. Knowing the essential specifications is critical when it comes to purchasing a forklift, different attachments and add-ons. Buy one that will get the job done safely and efficiently. Professional sales folks can work with you and help you understand even the smallest details of each machine. Come prepared knowing what you want for the best results.

What is the Workplace Environment Like?

You’ll need to understand what type of rigorous work you’ll be putting the truck through – how you’ll be using it and in what type of environment. By keeping the work area in mind, it can help you understand the dimensions of the forklift and what movement and reach capabilities it should have.

Plus, different trucks are more suitable for certain situations. One example would be working with or around food products. An electric forklift is required so the nearby edible goods aren’t contaminated with emissions from a gas-powered machine. Another case would be if the workplace contains flammable material. In this situation, you would want to purchase an explosion-proof forklift or reach truck.

Your work environment also includes the spaces a forklift needs to occupy. There are forklifts specifically made to maneuver around tight areas and forklifts with different turn radii. There are forklifts made distinctively for indoor or outdoor use. Different terrains call for particular forklifts with certain tire types and sizes too. Review each model in detail before pulling the trigger on a purchase so you can understand the perks and intended application of each unit.

How Often Will I Use the Forklift?

Knowing the answer to this question will undoubtedly allow you to narrow down your options further. Not only will it help determine what model to choose, but also what finance option is best for you. Our rule of thumb is that if your usage is 3-4 hours per day or more, a new forklift may be the best option. If less than that, you might want to consider buying used or renting. Like any sound business investment, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. And we want to make sure you spend it wisely. So understand your budget and usage requirements first and figure out the best purchase decision from there.

Who Will be Operating the Forklift?

The last question refers to the user. Chances are, whoever will be driving the forklift has experience. Consider getting their input on the decision. Find out their preferences, likes, dislikes and habits. What have they used in the past? What are they certified to drive? Like all types of equipment and machines, a forklift is only as productive as its user. And each forklift and lift truck is slightly different. Just because someone is familiar driving a Volkswagen Jetta doesn’t mean he/she can easily wield a Toyota Tundra. Forklifts are the same. It may take practice and it may take an official certification course to master a new piece of equipment. Regardless, select a model with the end user in mind. Make sure he/she can drive it with ease and comfort and get the project done safely and with accuracy and efficiency.


Buying a forklift is an important business investment. There are no shortcuts to take and no corners to cut. Attentive research and analysis is critical in order to make an efficient, economical decision. Take time to work with a sales person. They know it’s a big investment so they’ll make sure you have the info you need to maForklift Inventoryke a good decision and one that results in satisfaction once the forklift is bought and put to work.

At Sunbelt Material Handling, we help walk our customers through the process, regardless of past knowledge or experience, and help you choose the best makes and models that suit your needs. Not to mention, we offer financing options to meet your budget. Get in touch with us today. We’re happy to give you a hand!