Forklift Troubleshooting – Common Problems You Encounter

A forklift taking a palette off a large warehouse steel frame shelf

When you’re working with forklifts, any problem can be serious trouble. You need to know how to recognise the faults, and assess the risks, both in terms of onsite safety and downtime caused by mechanical or other failures. Regular forklift maintenance reduces the risks enormously, but be aware that problems will occur, sooner or later.

Let’s be clear about this – the very first sign of a problem is your alarm bell. Don’t ignore the warning signs; act fast. Mechanical and electrical problems don’t get better; they can be catastrophic, and almost unbelievably costly in some cases. Know the risks, understand the problems, and know how to get things fixed fast, and even major issues will be a lot easier to manage when getting forklift maintenance and repairs.

Common Forklift Problems

Lift or “Mast” Problems

The mast is the lift mechanism and frame of your forklift. If your forklift is not raising or lowering properly, or it is doing so erratically, this may indicate hydraulic problems. Hydraulic systems can be clogged with materials, or you may simply have low fluid levels. Overloads can also cause trouble, notably engine overheating.


Steering is a continuous operation in forklift work. Any difficulties of this kind can become chronic and risky onsite. One of the most common (and potentially serious) problems is low levels of steering fluid transmission. This problem can be fixed onsite, but please note that other issues, notably worn gears, require prompt attention. Best practice is to get forklift repairs done ASAP.

Electrical Systems and Starting Problem

These problems are potentially difficult, and can cause serious downtime. You may need forklift battery maintenance, and/or full spectrum servicing of the electrical systems.

Tyres and Suspension Issues

Like a car, tyres and suspension affect each other. Worn tyres aggravate all kinds of problems and can make a forklift handle poorly. A damaged suspension, however, affects the entire vehicle, and can be really risky. The suspension also reacts to the load, so problems can be aggravated very quickly. This problem can be almost completely avoided with regular forklift servicing.

Protecting Your Bottom Line

A healthy respect for these common problems can save you a lot of money upfront. Each of the above issues can cause problems that can be expensive if not fixed. A single accident or serious incident can turn in to a multi-million dollar “donation” to your stress levels, and do real damage to the bottom line.

Best practice is to have a do-everything local forklift service available for both servicing and expert advice to help you avoid risks. A combination of good experienced forklift operators who know the problems and good service will keep your forklift operations safe and productive.

If you’re in Sydney and looking for some help with managing servicing for your forklifts, Aussie Forklift Repairs is your local one-stop shop. Come and visit us online, see our full range of products and services, and just call us any time you need a hand. We’re only a phone call away on (02) 9679 8992 whenever you need us.

  • Phil Emmerton

    I thank you for elaborating the common problems that faced while operating a forklift. Its true that one must consider even a minor problem as an alarming bell after all ignoring such problems could cost forklift operator as well as to the company.

  • Anokam uche

    thanks for this breakdown on problems on forklift it has really helped me solving a problem few hours ago on one of the forklift i maintain in my place of work.

  • Autolink PK

    What a good blog you have here. Please update it more often. This topics is my interest. Thank you. . .
    Forklifts Pakistan

  • Rajasekar radhakrishnan

    i have a magaziner 4418-EK100 forklift and by using joystick automatically its not moving forward and backward direction, by pressing the bypass button only we could able to move it, where exactly the problem is?..Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Inglaterra1965

    i have a problem with my electric reach truck doesn’t move forward or backwards

  • Dave Blancett

    Hello. I have an elderly Clarke forklift…1974 I believe. 4500lb capacity. The mast won’t hold position when I tilt it. I tilt it back and it slowly drifts forward. There is no problem with raising the mast. Holds its position just fine. That tilt feature…not so good. Any ideas about where to start looking? Btw. I’m in Southern California. A bit far away from Australia, but good advice knows no mileage limits.