What Are the Most Expensive Forklift Repairs?

Every company wants to run at 100% efficiency. A few minutes of unexpected downtime can cost thousands of dollars. In one survey, 81% of companies said that being down for 60 minutes costs them more than $300,000. You can't afford to have equipment break down. The best way to prevent costly repairs is regular scheduled maintenance. This saves you time and money in the long run.

With close to a million forklifts in the U.S. alone, they're one of the most commonly used pieces of machinery. It's also one of the most common pieces of equipment to break down.

Forklift repairs can be expensive, in more ways than one. Let’s take a look at the most expensive forklift repairs and what you can do to prevent them.

The Most Expensive Forklift Repairs

When you're talking about a piece of equipment that on the high end can lift 35,000 pounds and cost $100,000, it's obvious that repairs won't be cheap. How expensive those repairs get depends on many factors.

There are three types of forklifts, categorized by fuel type:

Electric - These use large, heavy, rechargeable lead-acid batteries that can run for 5 or 6 straight hours.

Internal combustion - These forklifts run on gasoline, diesel, liquid propane, or compressed natural gas (CNG).

Fuel cell - Hydrogen fuel cell lift trucks have the most modern forklift technology.

As such, they have different components that can get very expensive. For instance, replacing a battery in forklift seems simple, but a 12V, 6cell battery can cost several hundred, to several thousand dollars. Forklift tires can be hundreds of dollars as well.

In the big picture, although you don't want to spend unexpected money on repairs, things like batteries and tires don't cost too much in parts or downtime. However, when you start talking about more in-depth repairs, the price and downtime skyrockets.

Electrical Components

The electrical system controls lighting, steering, dashboard, starter, and lift assembly. All systems in electric lift trucks run on batteries, and their terminals and fuses all require maintenance.

Onboard computers run diagnostics in newer forklifts. If the system alerts an operator something is wrong, they should find a supervisor and let them know.

As mentioned above, batteries alone aren't cheap. Neither is replacing terminals that become rusted or corroded. Fuses need to get replaced to avoid malfunction.

Brakes are also part of an electrical system in battery-powered forklifts. When warning lights are ignored, or key signs get missed, it can cost you thousands of dollars to replace the braking system.

Cooling and Radiator

There are many components in a cooling system, including lines that need to be checked for leaks. If a leak goes ignored, the system can fail, and repairs could cost $3,000 or more.

During a routine inspection, the operator should check the radiator cap to make sure it's secured. Ensuring the radiator has coolant on a regular basis will prevent it from overheating.

If there is a major coolant leak, it could be a hazardous incident. The added hours in paperwork and downtime, as you now know, cost you thousands.


The transmission is the heart of all forklifts. New forklifts have warranties, but when operator error causes a failure, it often isn't covered.

The hub needs regular maintenance, including transaxle fluid checks. Anyone who uses the forklift should look for signs of the transmission slipping and notify management.

A faulty transmission can lead to the machine breaking down. This is an expensive fix. Repairing or rebuilding a forklift transmission can cost $1800-$4000 in labor alone. Replacing transmissions will cost you much more, depending on the type of forklift you have.

Rebuild Head Assembly

Because newer machines have warranties, head assemblies or major engine trouble shouldn't be an issue. In older lift trucks, these repairs can be well over $4000.

They can also take weeks to get repaired, which you can't afford. If you can't be down a forklift or if it's your only one, you'll have to rent one. This adds to the expense of the repair.

How You Can Prevent Forklift Repairs

The easiest way to prevent forklift repairs is by scheduling regular planned maintenance. Even on electric forklifts, planned maintenance is imperative. 

You should add water to your battery every 5-10 charges. Replacing old fuses, filling all fluids, and checking for line leaks can save you thousands of dollars. You should always check terminals for corrosion.

Always carry loads under max capacity. Overloading the forklift can damage it or be a safety issue. Let the lift truck cool down after heavy use. If it overheats frequently, it's a sign of needing repairs.

Read over your warranty and keep it handy. This won't prevent repairs, but it could save you money on something that's covered under your powertrain warranty.

Safety is a Factor When it Comes to Maintenance

When your equipment fails, safety is at risk. Your operators must be trained and qualified to drive your forklift. During the training process, they should also know how to troubleshoot issues.

Before they even step on a lift truck, they must inspect the machine. They need to check steering controls, brakes, tires, and warning devices for any issues. It's also important to do a visual inspection underneath the forklift for any signs of leaks.

If a problem gets identified, your employee must report it to their supervisor at once. This ensures that the faulty equipment doesn't get used and repairs get called in.

Quality, Value, and Service is Our Only Way

If you're dealing with expensive forklift repairs due to frequent breakdowns, it's time to make a change. That change may be finding a reputable company to give your equipment regular maintenance. It may be time to consider trading in your forklift for a new one.

Whatever you decide, make sure you're using a dependable, reliable, and experienced forklift company. In North and South Carolina, no one fits that bill like CIT.

Carolina Industrial Trucks has a knowledgeable and caring staff that aims to exceed your expectations. We do this by providing the best service and selling the best products.

We're the first and only choice for businesses of all sizes and descriptions when it comes to lift truck sales, parts, and service. Contact us today and let us help you with your forklift needs.