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How Much Does a New or Used Forklift Cost?

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Summary: Average Forklift Prices

A standard capacity forklift will cost between $15,000 and $35,000. A 10,000 lb capacity forklift will cost between $30,000 and $45,000 while a 35,000 lb capacity forklift with cost up to $100,000. Generally, the more weight a forklift can handle (operating capacity), the more a forklift will cost.

Table of Contents

For businesses that must move heavy items, few pieces of equipment are as effective or as valuable as a forklift. Distribution depots, warehouses, lumber yards, manufacturing plants, and other work environments handle loads weighing 3,000 to 30,000+ pounds. They commonly use forklift trucks to keep their operations running smoothly. Although lift trucks are a big investment, the amount of man hours it can save makes the purchase of one more than worthwhile. But, to make sure you don't buy more than you need it is important to understand your business' requirements and the different types of forklifts that are available.

Types of Forklifts

Types of Forklifts

Forklifts can be categorized in two major ways: by the structure of the forklift, and by the type of fuel that it uses. Based on structure, the following types of forklifts are among the most popular:

  • Standard: A typical warehouse forklifts can lift 3,000 to 5,000 lbs. up to a height of around 20 feet.
  • Reach forklift: Sometimes called a narrow aisle forklift, this type of machine is often used in warehouses and distribution centers where space is at a premium. A narrow construction means that it can't carry as much as a standard forklift, but its extendable mast can lift loads up to about 40 feet.
  • Telescopic forklift: Also known as a telescopic handler, telehandler, or extendable reach forklift, this type of truck is a more rugged, heavy-duty version of a standard forklift with a telescopic boom that can be raised up and also extended out. It is often used in rough terrain, and can move loads of more than 30,000 pounds up to 70 feet high.
  • Straight mast forklift: This type of lift truck is also commonly used in rough terrain, but unlike the telescopic forklift, straight mast forklift can only move loads vertically, up to 12,000 pounds to a height of 10 to 30 feet.

When breaking down forklifts by fuel type, the following types are available:

  • Electric: Electric forklifts use large, heavy, rechargeable lead-acid batteries that can run for 5 or 6 straight hours. They are ideal for indoor use and a popular choice because they produce zero emissions and have a relatively low cost per hour of operation.
  • Internal combustion: These types of forklifts can run on a number of different fuels, including gasoline, diesel, liquid propane, and compressed natural gas (CNG). Compared to electric forklifts, internal combustion forklifts are easier to refuel, can carry heavier loads, and accelerate better, although they tend to be more expensive to operate.
  • Fuel cell: Hydrogen fuel cell forklifts are the next big thing in forklift technology, providing the zero emissions and quietness of electric forklifts with the fast refueling capability of an internal combustion machine.

Instructional Video: How to Operate a Forklift

Watch the video below to see a run through of how a forklift operates.

How Much Does a Forklift Cost?

Forklift Average Cost Samples

Actual forklift prices vary considerably based upon your location, requirements, and individual dealer. The prices given below are only intended to provide you with a basic idea of how much a forklift costs.

  • A brand new, standard capacity electric warehouse forklift might cost approximately $15,000-$25,000 or more in addition to around $2,500 to $5,000 for a battery and charger.
  • A comparable internal combustion forklift costs around $15,000-$30,000 and up.
  • A 10,000 lb. capacity internal combustion forklift might cost around $25-$50,000.
  • A high-end forklift capable of handling 35,000 pounds or more could cost $100,000+.
  • According to one vendor, an internal combustion forklift with a 5,000 lb. capacity and pneumatic tires costs around $20,000,the same vehicle with air-cushion tires costs around $18,000, and a comparable electric forklift with battery and charger costs approximately $25,000.
  • A used, re-conditioned 3,000 lb. electric forklift might cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • A used 5,000 lb. internal combustion forklift might cost $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Operating costs per year, based on a 250 day work year and two shifts per day, is around $1,500-$2,000 for an electric forklift, $12-$15,000 for a diesel forklift, and $10-$12,500 per year for a forklift running on liquefied petroleum gas.
  • Forklift maintenance costs (based on around 2,500 operating hours per year) might work out to around $500 per year for an electric truck, and $1,500 per year for an internal combustion forklift.

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Questions To Ask When Buying a Used Forklift

  • Why Is the Forklift Being Sold? When purchasing a used forklift, the first question you should ask is why the owner is selling it. You don't want to buy it and find out later that there is a slew of problems set to cost you just as much (if not more) than if you had paid for a brand new forklift. Make sure to get as much information from the owner as you can before finalizing any purchasing decisions. If the seller provides nothing but vague answers, you might not be getting the full history of the machine. Never settle for a unit that you don't know everything about; you can always find another one from a seller that gives you the complete truth.
  • What are the Capabilities of the Forklift? Before you start looking for forklifts, it is important that you know what it needs to be able to do. Consider factors such as the height you need, the surface the forklift will be operating on, and the weight it needs to carry. If you go into your purchase without knowing this information, you run the risk of buying a product that won't fit the needs of your business and wasting your money.
  • What are the Maintenance Costs? The cost of maintenance can add up quickly and may wind up costing you more than the forklift itself in the long run. You need to know if the forklift has a history of breaking down or malfunctioning and, if so, how often. If the unit has a habit of consistently requiring maintenance, then odds are it's a money pit. Also consider the availability of parts, because even if maintenance costs are low, the expense of difficult to find replacement parts and time spent finding and receiving them is not worth it. Make sure to gather all available information about the maintenance required by a forklift before any purchase is finalized.
  • What is the Hour Reading and History? You should know the amount of time that your potential forklift has been in use, as well as what it has been used for. You can get the time from the overall hour meter on the unit itself, but the history of the machine will have to be asked about. Although the unit's full history may not be known, any answers you get are useful in determining what it has been used for and how that will affect the unit in the future.
  • Can I do an Inspection? All used forklifts should be purchased from a reputable dealer in order to ensure you get the best possible equipment. Even with a reputable dealer, though, you should still perform an inspection yourself before making the purchase. Make sure to check the overall condition of the cab and the operation components, as well as the canopy, cowling, and frame. Also check the cylinders, forks, lift chains, mast, and mast rails for any cracks, distortion, general damage, and warping. Look over the engine compartment to make sure there are no leaks or other signs of trouble. Any other concerns or questions should be addressed by the seller. If they do not answer, or hesitate to answer, don't be afraid to walk away and buy through a seller that is willing to give you all the information they have.
  • Are There Attachments Included? Different dealers will have different packages and purchase options available. Additional attachments and tools are almost always available with the purchase of a forklift, but some of them may be included. Ask your dealer what comes with the unit and what needs to be purchased separately.

Be Diligent

Everything listed above is integral to the process of purchasing a used forklift. A used forklift can save you and your business a lot of money, but it can also cost a lot of money down the line if you don't put the proper effort into the buying process.

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