The eBay Guide to Buying Used Forklifts

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The eBay Guide to Buying Used Forklifts

During World War I there was an explosion of ideas in the United Kingdom for different types of handling materials. One idea that was further developed at that time and has continued to be useful until the present time is the forklift. Forklifts are industrial trucks that are used mainly for lifting and transporting materials. In warehousing and manufacturing processes, a forklift is essential equipment.

For businesses that require heavy lifting, buying a forklift is a necessary cost. However those companies that only need to use a forklift for a few hours a day, buying a new forklift seems impractical. One option is to rent, but that decision could be costly in the long run, with the accumulated rental cost being the same as that of buying a new forklift.

A wiser decision is to buy a used forklift, which is often substantially cheaper than a new one. Although cheaper, many used forklifts perform as efficient as new ones. Buyers interested in purchasing a used forklift must know the different steps in the decision-making process to get a truck worthy of their time and money.

Buying Used Forklifts

Because a new forklift is an expensive truck, companies would rather prefer a used one, especially those companies that do not plan to use the equipment heavily. There are factors to consider in buying a used forklift that wise buyers should follow.

Know the Suitable Type of Forklift Suitable

Questions such as "what is the required weight that a forklift needs to lift?" and "what is the maximum height the load needs to be lifted by the forklift?" are important guides in determining which type of forklifts are suitable for the buyer's operations. The former question leads to determining the type of forklift that can handle the regular to heaviest loads in the company.

Please note that it is always best to use the heaviest load requirement as a basis in choosing a forklift. The latter question, on the other hand, is another one to factor in when buying a used forklift because forklifts vary in how high they can elevate a load.

Another worthy questions is "will the forklift be utilised indoors or outdoors?" The question is also important because there are types of forklifts that work best in an indoor set-up, while there are those that are recommended for outdoor use. For instance, electric forklifts are for indoor use, and engine forklifts are for outdoor use.

Types of Forklifts

There are so many different types of forklifts. The table below details the different types of forklifts, their power system, and attributes or intended use.


Power System


Manual or Hand Pallet Forklift


For small loads

Walkie Low Lift or Powered Pallet truck


For small loads

Rider Low Lift Truck


For small loads

Towing Tractor

Engine or Electric

Lifting 4,500 to 22,600 kg load

Walkie Stacker


Lifting pallets up to 1,800 kg

Reach Truck


Designed for small aisles; comes in two variants: moving carriage and moving mast, with the latter being more safer to use

Electric Counterbalanced Truck


Three varieties: stand on end control, stand on centre, and sit down centre control; engines may use diesel, natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, butane, or propane; four stroke compression ignition types are more common

Internal Combustion Engine Powered Counterbalanced Forklift


Comes in three varieties just like the Electric Counterbalanced Truck; engines may use diesel, natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, butane, or propane


Electric or Engine

Comes in three varieties; engine can have different fuels like the Engine Counterbalanced Forklift; most have a four stroke compression ignition

Telescopic Handler


Comes in three varieties; engine is often diesel-powered; most have a four stroke compression ignition

Rider Order Picking Truck (Order Picker)


Operator rides in a cage connected to the fork carriage

Articulated Very Narrow Aisle Counterbalanced Trucks


Comes in three varieties; can use different types of fuels; most have a four stroke spark ignition;

Guided Very Narrow Aisle Truck


Mast can rotate 90 degrees and is very high

Guided Very Narrow Aisle Order Picking Truck


Same attributes as the above forklift except that in this forklift the operator and controls are in a cage connected to the mast

Truck Mounted Forklift or Sod Loader


Comes in sit down centre control variety; most engines operate on diesel, while some use kerosene or propane injection; most are four stroke compression ignition

The table above is useful in determining the type of used forklifts based on their power systems. The table also provides a quick reference chart for buyers in terms of the different attributes of each forklift.

Choose the Source of a Used Forklift

Used forklifts, available on eBay, either come from owners or dealers who sell trade-in forklifts, lease retirements, or former rental fleet units. Trade-ins are typically used for several years before the first owners let them go; engine forklifts are used for seven years, while electric forklifts are used for eight to 10 years on average before trading in. Trade-in trucks typically run for 1,500 hours per year in single shift operation.

Buyers could get a former rental unit, and a growing number of retired forklifts that have only been used for three to five years. Furthermore, forklifts that are rented for short-term use only have an average use of 1,000 hours per year and are usually replaced every three to five years. These trucks, however, command a higher price than other types of used forklifts.

Thoroughly Inspect the Parts of a Potential Purchase

Checking the parts of a used forklift helps buyers make sure that all are in good condition. Sellers of used forklifts usually tell the buyers if there is a part that is not functioning properly and needs repair or maintenance.

Different Parts

The parts of a used forklift include the truck frame, counterweight, cab, overhead guard, and power source. Check if the truck frame or the base of the machine is still sturdy and holds its parts well, such as the mast, axles, counterweight, and so on. Also, see if the counterweight is intact. The counterweight counterbalances the load being lifted, and in used electric forklifts, the large lead-acid battery can be the counterweight itself. The cab, which is the part that has the controls and seats the operator, is also worth checking.

The pedals, steering wheels, switches, and levers inside the cab must all work properly. The overhead guard is a metal roof propped by post at the four corners of the cab. This part protects the operator from falling objects, so it should still be durable. Another important consideration is the power source, an internal combustion engine for engine forklifts and battery or fuel cells for electric forklifts. Other parts that buyers should check are tilt cylinders, mast, carriage, load back rest, and tyres. Attachments, such as dimensioning devices, sideshifter, rotator, fork positioner, pole attachments, slip sheet attachment, and others, should also be inspected for faults.

Mechanic Inspection

Buyers should always ask for the used forklift's maintenance records, but if it is not available, bringing a mechanic to do a thorough inspection would do. A qualified mechanic must check the mast operation with a full-rated load or without a load. The mechanic, when checking the mast operations, tilts the mast fully forward and backward to check if there is an excessive play, about three inches or more, between the carriage and the mast and between the mast channels.

The mechanic also checks for excessive side carriage. The operation must be smooth and lacks binding for the used forklift to pass the standards of the mechanic. Attachments, such as a paper roll clamp, must be in place during operation to ensure that the attachment also works properly. When the used forklift is warmed up, the mechanic should check for leaks in the transmission, mast, differential, radiator, engine, and tilt cylinders.

Road Test the Used Forklift

The last step is to test drive the used forklift by driving it through a tight figure-eight pattern in forward and reverse gears. Check if the forklift tracks accurately and responds quickly to the steering wheel. Buyers should also check for uneven wear in tyres. If there is an uneven wear in the tyre, it is a sign of axle misalignment.

Buying a Used Forklift on eBay

You can find a great number of used forklifts on eBay. Whether you prefer used electric forklifts, used engine forklifts, or other types, you can find it on eBay. What is great about eBay is you can easily filter your search to show a particular type or condition of forklifts. The site can even show your preferred range of price or location.

When buying products, such as used forklifts, it is always recommended to carefully read the description in the listing because most sellers provide important details a potential buyer should know. You can see on the product description the actual condition of the used forklift, including the capacity as well as faults. If you have any additional queries, do not hesitate to send a direct message to the client. For other concerns, eBay has a dedicated customer support to assist you. Buying a used forklift is as easy as making a few clicks when you buy on eBay.


Forklifts are a necessary cost for companies, such as manufacturing and warehousing, but the new ones are very expensive. Businesses that want to cut cost or only require the use of a forklift for a few hours can benefit from buying a used forklift. Those interested in buying used forklifts must take necessary steps to ensure that they get the best deal for their money. The first step, which is especially useful to first-time buyers, is to determine which type of used forklift is suitable for the needs. As a rule of thumb, engine-powered forklifts are usually for outdoors and the electric-powered types are usually for indoors.

The first thing to do when buying a used forklift is to know which type is best suited for the needs. The next step is to determine the source, with some coming from trade-ins, while others are from lease retirements or former rental fleet units. Then, check the parts of the used forklift, and if possible, have a mechanic run an inspection. Finally, test drive the forklift. Forklifts may be a necessary cost for some companies, but they need not be costly. If chosen carefully, a used forklift can perform just as efficiently and effectively as a new one at a much lesser cost.

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