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Feb 27, 2024

5 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Buying Used Forklifts

Ever buy a used forklift and regretted it later?

It kept breaking down. It couldn’t keep up with other forklifts. Operators don’t want to use it.

Too many used forklifts for sale are just not ready. They may have come from a rental fleet, as-is, with insufficient refreshing to meet the demands of full-time use.

How do you tell if a used forklift isn’t ready to work? You look for red flags like these 5.

(Just a note – you’ll never find any of these on a Cromer used forklift. We do a full reconditioning process on each & every one.)

Red Flag #1 – Too Much Wear

Used forklifts often have dings & dents. That’s normal. What’s not normal is when the wear indicates problems.

Two examples:

  • A bad rust patch. Rust patches larger than your palm weaken the entire panel around them. That spells trouble for the forklift’s reliability.
  • Wear on the side shifter. The wear pads may be thin/cracked, making the side shift unsafe to operate.

This is why Cromer’s team replaces bad panels and wear pads.

Red Flag #2 – Poor Paint, Poor Care

A forklift’s paint tells you a lot about its internal condition.

Rust along the base? It’s been driven through water. Axles & shocks may need replacing.

Faded spots in the paint? Forklift may have been kept outdoors. May have issues with its control console.

This is why Cromer repaints forklifts as part of our reconditioning. We even buy factory paint to do it!

A beaten-up rental forklift before reconditioning.

A reconditioned used forklift from the Cromer team. (Sorry, already sold!)

Red Flag #3 – Grime Under the Hood

Open the engine bay. Is it dirty inside? Do you see oil spray? Heat damage?

While in there, check the radiator. Is it dirty outside or in? Dirty radiators mean the cooling system could have serious problems.

Cromer does a heated pressure wash, as well as flushing & steaming the radiator.

Red Flag #4 – Bad Fluids

While you have the engine open, pull the dipstick and check it. If the oil looks black, it’s way overdue for changing. Bad lubricants could have already caused wear damage in the engine.

(Cromer changes ALL lubricants.)

Red Flag #5 – Forks are Out of Sync

Last, check the forks. They should be identical in width, length, and thickness.

Some wear on used forks is normal. What you want to watch for is when one fork’s more worn down than the other.

(This is hard to spot without a measuring tape, so bring one!)

Different-sized forks imbalance every load they pick up. You really don’t want that.

To counter this major issue, Cromer gauges every fork to make sure they’re in safety compliance.

Aim for Zero Red Flags on Your Next Used Forklift

Why call out red flags like these? For one, we don’t want anyone buying a bad forklift, no matter where you are.

Also, these red flags are what we target with our reconditioning process. Cromer basically does a factory-level reconditioning on every used forklift, before they’re put up for sale.

The reconditioning includes:

  • Repainting
  • Tires are new or regrooved
  • All fluids replaced
  • Heated power wash
  • Replacing worn pads, seats, hoses
  • Forks measured & replaced as needed
  • Checks from top to bottom (down to the radiator’s fan guard)

One quick reminder to finish up: Once you’ve bought a used forklift, set up preventative maintenance for it! It’s key to keeping the forklift in good shape for years.

Until next month!

—The Cromer Team
Cromer Material Handling

Deal of the Month


What better Deal for this month than a fully-reconditioned used forklift? This is a 2014 Clark C30CL, a 6000# LPG forklift.

2014 Clark LPG Reconditioned Forklift for Sale

The C30CL is a pneumatic tire, 4-wheel sit-down. It has a quad mast – higher than average – with a 95/276 mast spec. It has 2,950 hours on it.

This Clark has received the Cromer Reconditioning discussed in the article, down to a new factory paint job. It’s 100% ready to get back onto the floor.

These go fast, so don’t wait. Pick this Clark forklift up for only $16,900.

To get this deal, call Cromer at 800.464.3225 and ask for the February Deal of the Month!