Buying A New Vs. Used Forklift: The Pros And Cons

It’s fun to use and fun to watch when being used. Very practical, making work much safer and, in general, it gets things done. The mighty forklift is something we see in every major company, warehouse, industrial zone, and so forth. There is no going around – if you’re in any sort of serious business – you will need a forklift sooner or later. 

But they are a capital expense. Not only are they relatively expensive, but they also require a trained and serious worker to operate them, meaning further investment, not to mention maintenance costs and fuel. That is why the question of whether to buy a new one or an older one is posed whenever someone considers getting a forklift. The market for them is large and there are many options to consider, so read further on to find out what it’s all about.

When Do You Need a Forklift?

Not wanting to rush you, but many entrepreneurs start considering getting a forklift when it’s high time they’ve already started using one. Operating heavy weights is dangerous, and even if sore muscles are not enough, you are still faced with a risk of injury or even death from stacked objects falling on top of you. There is no clear formula for determining when a company is ready to invest in a forklift, but there are a few clear signs: 

  • Moving several pallets per week

Local labor codes may restrict you on how much weight can be carried by an employee at a time, meaning that if you have several tonnes of stuff that needs to be moved every day, or every week – it takes considerable time to do it. 

  • Workers complaining about back pains

A clear sign that a machine is needed.

  • Moving into a new warehouse

If the business is booming, a new, taller warehouse is a good landmark to invest in a forklift.

Budget Vs Quality

It’s clear that new forklifts, like any other vehicle or tool, should be in pristine condition when new. But searching for older ones, as some can be found on, can yield forklifts that have been taken care of during their entire working life and are actually in an “almost-like-new” state. This is, of course, the best possible scenario as you are getting something in excellent condition for a reduced price. 

A new business is likely to be operating on a tight budget, trying to find its place in the market, and in that case, it would probably be best to get the cheapest forklift you can find, that is operational. In practice, talking to a local dealer will probably give you the best results, as they are the ones who have experience judging the condition of the vehicle. 

Learning to Operate

Another major cost in obtaining a forklift is learning how to operate one. Although it can be done on your own, trying your best to master how to make a turn with it, lifting worthless pallets out in the parking lot, etc, that is not really how it should be done. It’s best if you actually attend a course on the subject and get a license to operate.

Operating a forklift is pretty much the same whether it’s new or used, the only difference being that the very latest models have built-in sensors for detecting close objects. Although very handy, if that is the only major difference between the two models, then you are better off with a used one. 


Every forklift comes with the added cost of regular maintenance and fuel consumption. Fuel, in most cases, is electricity, so there is no worry about burning fumes, but you have to have installed an appropriate cable network, one that can supply enough power to charge the machine in a reasonable time. 

Other than that, a forklift should be inspected at least once a year to see if there are any noticeable flaws, and to have its gears and wheels checked. This isn’t awfully expensive, but will, either way, be less of an issue with new ones. A forklift that is in good condition is not only more pleasant to operate but is also much safer. 

This whole comparison is very similar to that of cars. Old or new, used or unpacked, there are both pros and cons to every side. Even if you had the money to spend without thinking much about it, it would still be better to carefully consider what’s for sale and get the best offer, regardless of the production year stamped on the plate.

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