A forklift must be inspected properly and given a test run before buying it. This applies particularly to trucks being obtained on the World Wide Web. It is very essential to find potential issues with trucks bought from companies on line.
Starting the engine from cold is a good idea. Note whether there is excessive smoke and the ease with which the engine turns over. This is specifically essential with trucks that have IC engines.
Testing the performance of the truck in tough situations should be included in the test run. A qualified operator can maneuver the truck in forward and reverse, up the ramp.
You could check an IC engine truck yourself. On a clear area of floor, run the truck around for several minutes while a skilled driver tests the hydraulic functions. After that, examine the ground underneath for signs of fluid leakage. Even seemingly minor leaking can result in serious problems which would be costly to fix later on.
The masts and chains should be inspected by a trained individual. Check with and without a load that the mast works well. Watch for 'binding' or sticking of the mast. A warning sign is play in the mast channels or between the fork carriage and mast. One more is creeping down or creeping forward of the mast when loaded. These can be symptoms of problems with ram, valve or seals.
If the truck is not new, the mast may have been changed at some time. Make sure that the mast and any fitted attachments adhere to the rating plate on a truck. Make sure that the sideshift is not sticking when loaded.
When inspecting the forks, look closely at the heel thickness for wear or damage. The truck's manufacturer specifies minimum thickness. A loose fit might mean the hanger points or carriage are worn. Look for cracks on the arms at mountings and heels.