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Mar 25, 2019

Watch Out—These 6 Overlooked Forklift Parts Can Break on You

You already know about worn-out forklift tires, bent forks, and so on. When was the last time you checked the brake pedals though?

Forklifts contain many parts. Some of which you may not think about. Until they break, that is.

Some of these overlooked parts can trigger a serious accident if they break suddenly on the floor. That's why we all have to keep an eye out.

In this issue we're listing out 6 of these overlooked parts, talk about how these parts can wear down, and what can happen if they break.

Forklift Brake Pedal

Brake Pedals

All brakes wear out. That’s no surprise. I'm not talking about the brakes themselves, but the brake pedal in the forklift cab.

These pads are rubber. When the rubber's new, it's easy to control the forklift's brake. When the rubber wears down from months of regular use, an operator's shoe can slip off the pedal.

Slippage can cause a sudden acceleration—right into a rack. Or a co-worker.

Forklift Key

A key's just a piece of metal. No big deal if it breaks, right? You have a duplicate somewhere...

Think about this though...what happens if the key breaks off in the forklift keyhole? The entire forklift's rendered useless. It only takes 1 second.

Forklift Horn

I've been to customer sites where operators use their forklifts' horns all the time. Others don't use them at all.

Either way, the horn serves a good purpose: it alerts everyone to where the forklift's going. Critical for worker safety, on and off the forklift.

Until the horn fails.

You won't know the horn's broken until you try it. If that happens when an operator sees a worker in their path, not paying attention? You instantly have a crisis-in-the-making.

Spark Plugs

A forklift's spark plugs fire all the time. Eventually you'll get a misfire. In a modern forklift engine, misfires don't automatically spell disaster. Just an occasional issue starting the forklift up. However, over time, one misfiring spark plug can seriously damage the forklift's engine.

Forklift Chains Affecting Forks

We discussed worn-out chains in 2015. One thing we didn't call out was the relationship between chain wear and fork wear.

Over time, chains will stretch out from use. They can also wear at the pins. Eventually this lengthens the chain out too far. Which causes the forks to drag on the ground, wearing down the forklift heels.

Due to everyday work noise, you may not see or hear the dragging. You'll eventually feel it though—when you end up with ruined forks and a dead chain!

This is the most preventable break on the list here. Adjusting your forklift chains during maintenance prolongs their life. If they've stretched too far, it's time to change the chain. Before it takes the forks out with it.

Emergency Brake

Like your car, forklifts have an E-brake. You never think about it until you need it.

I've been in a forklift with a failed emergency brake. I tried the brake handle - and it pulled completely out of the socket. I'm a strong guy, but I'm not the Hulk! Part of the handle had snapped, out of view. I accidentally revealed the break when I pulled the handle.

Lucky for me, the forklift was off. If that happens when you're operating, you're instantly in a collision situation.

How to Watch Those Overlooked Forklift Parts

Of these parts, the only one not designed to last the life of the forklift is the chain. But let's face it...sometimes things just wear out. That's why we do forklift maintenance in the first place.

The same maintenance can spot when certain parts have worn down. All we have to do is remember to keep an eye out.

  1. Keep to a visual inspection schedule. A thorough one—include the forklift keys and worker safety gear in inspections.
  2. Stay on top of forklift maintenance. Regular maintenance will replace some of these components anyway (e.g. the chain).
  3. Remind all workers that you appreciate their input on forklift operation. If Carl checks in for his shift and finds his forklift takes three tries to start, he should report it at once. Could just be a cold day...or something's wrong.

If we do your Preventative Maintenance, don't worry—Cromer technicians check all 6 of these parts as part of our Forklift Maintenance inspections. When you're in the Cromer Community, you're taken care of.

Until next month!

Marshall Cromer, The Forklift Boss
Cromer Material Handling

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