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Forklift Buying Guide

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Posted: March 28, 2023
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Buying a forklift is not a small investment and it shouldn’t be treated as such. When pursuing the purchase of a new forklift or forklift fleet there are a wide variety of considerations to take into account. And not all of these are singularly focused on forklift specs. At Toyota, we realize that the decision to invest in any piece of capital equipment takes time and consideration.


In our effort to help you better assess your forklift purchases, use the below guide to help you make the best possible decisions. We’ve divided the guide into two sections. The first pertains directly to equipment. The second to other considerations to take into account before you buy a forklift.

Product-based Questions to Ask When Buying a Forklift

Developing a thorough understanding of the available products, and, just as importantly, your own operation where those forklifts will be operated, is the first key in making a decision on what forklift to buy. Take time to reflect on your operation and consider how it can be optimized if you select certain types of equipment. Using the questions below is a good starting place; when ready, you can contact your locally authorized Toyota dealer to get inquiries more specific to your unique needs.


  1. Do you need an electric or an internal combustion(IC) engine? Electric forklifts are powered by batteries. IC forklifts are powered by traditional engines that run on different types of fuel.

  2. Will you be driving the forklift indoors or outdoors? This will determine what type of tires you need. Cushion tires are best on concrete. Pneumatic tires are best for asphalt, hard dirt, or firm gravel.

  3. What is the width of your aisles? If your aisle space is narrow, you may need a 3-wheel forklift or a stand-up rider model.  A narrow aisle order picker or reach truck may also be your best solution.

  4. How many hours a week will you use the forklift? Used forklifts are great if you only need them for a few hours a day. If you plan to run your forklift four or more hours a day, consider a new model.

  5. How much weight are you lifting? Make sure to purchase a forklift that can handle more than your heaviest load.

  6. How high do you need to lift a load? Purchase a forklift that can lift a load to your maximum height.

  7. Will you be loading or unloading from trailers? If so, get a forklift specifically designed to work in tight areas. Pay particular attention to the lowered mast height of the forklift.

  8. Do you handle food? If yes, you might need an electric forklift to avoid emissions.

Business-based Questions to Ask When Buying a Forklift

The forklift and operation aren’t the only things to take into account when pursuing the right forklift purchase. Your business depends largely on you making savvy decisions that think more thoroughly about the big picture. Here are a few more questions you might seek answers to when buying a forklift.


  1. Should I rent a model before I take the step toward purchasing? You wouldn’t purchase a car without a test drive, so you shouldn’t purchase a forklift without a test either. Request a demo or a short-term rental to test the forklift in your facility.

  2. Should I be loyal to my brand or change brands? Maintaining a forklift fleet has its benefits when you consider that operators can move easily between vehicles, assuming they’ve been trained on each different type. But that shouldn’t keep you from making a change if your needs are changing or you need an upgrade. We’re confident you’ll find Toyota’s products to be top-of-the-line and the leader in quality, durability, and overall value. Reach out to a Toyota dealer if you have questions about maintaining a one-brand fleet.

  3. What is the lifetime value of my forklift? Make sure you’re choosing a forklift you can afford over its lifetime. Only paying attention to the upfront cost can be a big mistake.

  4. Am I getting the forklift I really need? You’ll find that you can get a lot of extra accessories for your forklift. Make sure you get what you need, but don’t make something more complicated than it has to be.

  5. Is now the right time to buy a forklift? There are many reasons to buy a forklift at the right time, and not all of them have to do with what’s happening at your facility. Pay close attention to market trends, developments in the supply chain, and even changes in government policy (like the tax benefits of capital equipment investments that took effect in 2018).

  6. Should I rent, lease, or buy? Buying brand new isn’t your only option and sometimes, it isn’t the best one. Consider all your options and decide which one is best for you.


If you have questions about product designs or industry trends and how they might impact your investment in a new forklift, it’s probably time to find a Toyota dealer near you.

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