Forklift Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Machine For The Job

Buy Forklift Guide Texas Motive Solutions

There’s no doubt that buying a forklift, or a fleet of them, for your business is a heavy investment. Aside from finding the best value at the time of purchase, you need trucks that meet your unique warehouse needs, are reliable and easy to maintain, and which you can trust to be part of your warehouse operations for years to come.

Doing your due diligence is paramount if you want to buy a forklift that fits the aforementioned criteria, but it can be confusing with all the different types and brands out there. How do you know which is easy to customize, or how to make sure you pick a good second-hand model?

Here’s a forklift buyer’s guide to answer your questions and help you pick the right truck for your business.

A Guide to Buying Forklifts

Matching your forklift’s intended use to your warehouse needs is one of the first things you should do before consulting your forklift buying guide. This way you determine the criteria for the most productive and cost-efficient machine for you.

Forklift Comparison Guide Texas Motive Solutions

The table below shows the primary types of trucks to consider when forklift buying.

Forklift TypeUse
Order pickers
  • Used in racking or reaching high shelves of between 8–11 feet.
  • Available in two types: All electronic or electronic lift only.
  • Load capacity of 400 to 3,500 lbs.
Pallet jacks
  • Enable an individual to move an entire pallet of goods.
  • Electric and manual.
  • Load capacity of 3,000 to 4,000 lbs.
Reach trucks
  • Used to pull items from racking by “reaching” in with an extendable carriage and forks.
  • Load capacity of 2,500 to 5,500 lbs.
Sit-down counterbalance forklift trucks
  • Used for everything from warehouse applications to construction.
  • Provide the highest capacity in terms of height and weight.
  • Load range of 3,000 to 80,000 lbs. Can go as high as 120,000 lbs.

Other considerations to make once you have identified the type of forklift you will need include:

  • Pricing: New and used forklifts cost anywhere between $5,000 to $24,000. It all depends on the type and customizations it comes with.
  • Power source: Do you need an electric truck or one that runs on fuels like gasoline or diesel? Like any other type of machinery, forklifts purchase comes with weighing out specs.
  • Tires: Choose between pneumatic, cushion, and polyurethane tires, depending on your operating environment.
  • Accessories: It is almost inevitable that you will have to buy forklift accessories. However, you can choose which accessories your forklift will come with right off the bat to lower the total cost of ownership.
  • Service availability: Consider the number of professional service technicians when choosing a forklift model.
  • Accessibility of parts: As mentioned in the point above, go for a brand that has readily available parts.

Forklift Buyer’s Guide to New vs. Used Forklifts

This would not be a full-blown forklift buyer’s guide if we didn’t delve into the nuances of buying new vs. used forklifts. Forklift purchase doesn’t come cheap, and sometimes buying a brand new one isn’t the best choice for your business.

used forklift purchase

Ultimately, the decision lies in whether you can find one in great condition based on the below criteria:


It’s impossible to find an old forklift in excellent condition. However, the age of the machine is often correspondent to its condition. You can determine the age of a forklift using its serial number and some brands indicate the year of manufacture in the series name.

Service Hours

Service hours are to a forklift what mileage is to a car. The general economic life of a forklift is approximately 10,000 to 12,000 hours. However, this varies based on maintenance practices and operating conditions. Either way, the lower the number, the better the condition of the forklift.


As mentioned above, operating conditions also affect the lifespan of a forklift. Some conditions such as extreme environments cause more wear and tear than your ordinary controlled warehouse environment. Research the forklift’s previous use and conditions before purchasing it.


Condition is by far one of the most important aspects to consider. Always have a qualified forklift mechanic or professional dealer inspect the forklift to check its condition, even when it seems in good shape.

Financing Forklifts

Should I rent, lease, or buy? Even where you have the financial capacity to purchase a new truck at once, forklift finance and leasing is an ideal option as it frees up cash reserves for other business endeavors. Aside from the flexibility, there are a number of lenders who offer a variety of loan and lease programs with subsidized costs and highly favorable terms.

Some manufacturers offer forklift financing through their dealers, while in other cases a dealer may contract a third-party lender or leasing company. Always make sure to compare the financing terms to your own bank’s to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Questions to Ask When Buying Forklifts

Here are some FAQs and additional questions you should have an answer to before settling on a forklift to purchase:

  • What is the availability of parts?

These should be readily available and reliable.

  • What is the forklift’s lifetime value?

Upfront costs are just a fraction of it. Make sure to calculate expected costs over its lifetime.

  • Do forklifts have titles?

No. Ownership is legally transferable through a bill of sale or invoice.

  • What accessories will I need?

It all depends on its use case, but make sure to only get what you need.

  • Can I get custom features?

Yes, forklift manufacturers and dealers offer customization, whether through attachments or feature modification.

Keep Your Forklift at Its Best

Using this forklift guide to purchase a forklift truck is only the beginning. Whether you go for a new or used truck, keeping your forklift in good condition is vital to maximizing its lifespan and running a productive, efficient warehouse. Texas Motive Solutions has a seasoned sales and tech support team that can create a planned maintenance program tailored to the specific needs of your operation. If you are planning to buy a forklift or have forklift repair needs, we will gladly put you in contact with one of our trusted partners.

Contact us today to find out more about our rapid response, service first technical support services.