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Jul 2, 2014

How and When to Replace Forklift Tires Safely

A while back, we discussed the types of forklift tires in use. Let’s continue that discussion...because eventually, ALL forklift tires need replacing. The only question is, when?

When to Replace a Forklift Tire

Every forklift tire has a method of determining when it’s time for replacement.

On cushion tires, there’s a rule of thumb: “To the top of the numbers”. Each tire has a set of size numbers on it. For example, if you see “21x7x15” then you know it’s a 21-inch tire. Through use, the tire’s rubber wears down until the top of its surface touches these numbers.

That’s when you NEED to replace the tires. Why? Because it means almost 100% of the shock they encounter from the road is transmitted up through the tire, through the truck, and into the driver!

On solid pneumatic tires, you’ll find a wear ring or band. When wear & tear reaches this ring, then it’s time to replace the tire. Since this is solid, you can get a little more operation time from these tires at this point. But it’s not recommended. The chances of slipping and tipping increase.

Of course, with all forklift tires, if you see one with chunks missing or tears across the rubber? Replace that tire right away!

How the Replacement Process Works

Cromer Material Handling operates a mobile tire press. When you have worn forklift tires, you call Cromer and we send the tire truck out to your location.

The replacement process is similar to replacing car tires. With one notable difference—the pressing/mounting of new tires. Here’s how it works.

  1. Our technician jacks up the lift truck with a properly-balanced jack. (NEVER use another forklift to do this!)
  2. Unscrew and remove the wheel.
  3. Unmount the old tire from the wheel.
  4. Attach the wheel to the tire press.
  5. (Cushion Tire) A new cushion tire is pressed onto the wheel.
    (Solid Pneumatic) A fresh pneumatic tire is mounted onto the wheel.
  6. Reattach the wheel to the forklift. Screw in and lower back to ground.
  7. Test the forklift’s balance and rolling.

Pretty simple, right? Replacement can be done anywhere, so long as the forklift is parked on a solid surface. It takes less than 30 minutes too.

Don’t Replace One at a Time

There’s one warning we need to make clear when it comes to forklift tires: We won’t replace just one.

If you call us out to replace a forklift tire on its right side, we have to do the left tire too. We won’t just replace one tire on an axle and leave the other one.

Why not? Because it’s very unsafe. One new tire on the right, and one worn-down tire on the left? It creates an imbalance in the forklift. Which heightens the chance for tipping or skidding out when the forklift’s carrying loads. It’s a serious (and unnecessary) injury risk to your workers. (We cover this in our Forklift Safety Training classes too.)

Replacing forklift tires that “still work” is a hard sell. The tire hasn’t failed yet; why pay for a replacement? With the information here, you can make a good judgment call. If a tire has reached a certain level of wear, then it’s not a question of IF the tire will fail to support the forklift. It’s a question of WHEN.

Compared to the cost of a shop floor accident, replacing a couple forklift tires is nothing! So keep an eye on those tires. When it’s time to replace them, we’ll come do the job quickly and safely.

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