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There are plenty of ways to get a great deal on forklifts these days, and one of the best ways is attending a forklift auction. As long as a you take a bit of care, it’s not hard to pick up a bargain. With a number of large auction houses around Australia constantly rotating stock, there’s almost always a forklift auction happening somewhere. But, there are a few things you should know before placing your bid.

In this article, we’re going to cover the 8 things we think you need to know before going to a forklift auction.

  • Brand
  • Market Price
  • Warranty
  • Condition & Service History
  • Maintenance Costs
  • Transportation Costs
  • Liquid Overhaul
  • Don’t Overbid

Brand

JCB Forklift

It’s going to be a common theme throughout this article, but do your research before buying anything! In this case, research the different brands and the models they have on offer. Compare the machines that are available at the forklift auction and do your best to know the brand’s reputation before making a bid.

Different forklift brands have their own specialty. Some specialise in rough terrain forklifts and others in electric food handling forklifts. So knowing what the brand excels in is an important step to getting the right forklift for your needs.

If you already maintain a fleet of forklifts and are looking for a new one, you’ll probably have a make and model in mind when you head to an auction. But, if it’s your first time, you’ll need to know which brands:

  • You can trust
  • Cost more to maintain
  • Are most efficient

Having this knowledge before going to bid can help you save time and hassle by avoiding a potentially bad purchase. Of course, knowing the brands to keep your eye on will also help you get a better idea of the market price and potential maintenance costs.

Market Price

Going hand-in-hand with researching brands, you’re going to want to know the market price for your forklifts before placing a bid. Knowing what the market price is for a used or new forklift will help you keep a clear head and ensure you don’t spend more than you should.

If you go into a forklift auction knowing the market price, you’ll have a good idea of what you should expect to pay, making it easier to prepare in advance. This is important as many online auctions require immediate payment, meaning you will have to have the capital or finance ready to go immediately.

Forklift Auction Warranty

This is more about expectations than what to expect, but keep your expectations low when it comes to warranty at forklift auctions. While new machines generally come with a 12-36 month warranty, it’s a very different story at a forklift auction.

Many forklifts at auction are sold as is, often with no warranty. However, some auctioned forklifts come with a 30 or 90-day warranty.

To ensure you know exactly what you’re going to get, discuss the warranty with the auction house before bidding. Reputable dealers will have no issue telling you the warranty and it will help you decide whether bidding is worth the risk. Especially as the warranty ties in very closely to our next point, condition and service history.

Condition & Service History

forklift

The condition and service history of the forklift is possibly the most important point to consider when buying at a forklift auction. A forklift in terrible condition with poor service history is likely to cost you a fortune in repairs and servicing, eating away at your savings. Sometimes the repairs and maintenance on a used machine can even cost more than if you had bought it new!

If you’re attending a local auction, head to the auction house and ask to inspect the forklifts. Most companies are happy to let you check out the machines before auction. You can also take this time to note down any issues you find.

Can’t make it into the auction in person? Ask the seller to provide you with a condition report and the service history. 

As a last resort, you can sometimes pay a local mechanic to head to the auction house and inspect the machines for you. Of course, be sure that whoever is inspecting the forklifts knows what defects to look for.

Maintenance Costs

Tying into the servicing and condition, is your maintenance costs. Whether you buy used or new, it’s inevitable that you will need to service and maintain your forklift. But how much that costs you is the important factor. Not only will you have to pay a mechanic or staff member to do the maintenance, but every minute your forklift isn’t working is a minute it’s not making money. So, ensuring your forklifts aren’t breaking down constantly is important.

Another factor to maintenance costs is the parts and accessories. Or more accurately, how easily can you source them, and at a good price. If you buy a newer model forklift from a renowned (or local) brand, you’re going to have an easier time sourcing parts for repairs. But, if you spend less to get an off-brand Chinese model, or a model no one has parts for, you may end up having large downtime due to being unable to easily get the parts you need for repairs.

But, if you do your research beforehand, and have an idea of how easy (or hard) it will be to perform maintenance, you’ll have an idea of what you should bid.

Transportation Costs

High Reach truck

An often overlooked part of a forklift auction is the transportation costs. There’s no point getting a great deal on a used forklift if transporting it will cost as much as a new forklift anyway! Before bidding, make sure you get the size and weight of the forklift, and get an estimate of shipping from a trusted freight company.

Of course, this is less of an issue if you’re buying from a local auction, but it’s still something to keep in the back of your mind when bidding.

Liquid Overhaul

Experienced buyers will know to keep an eye out for the liquid overhaul. Less reputable sellers will slap on a fresh coat of paint and promise that the forklift has been given a full overhaul. Make sure you pop open the bonnet and check the internals. Is the engine clean? Or is there dirt and oil galore in there?

As the old saying goes: “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”.

Don’t Overbid

Finally, don’t get caught up in the excitement. Auctions are fun, whether you’re raising your paddle from the back of the crowd or increasing the price by computer, it’s easy to get hotheaded and overbid by accident. So our last tip for forklift auctions is: keep a cool head while you bid. Head into the auction with price points in place and don’t go over them.

Getting a great deal at a forklift auction is a great experience and auctions are always fun! Odds are, you’ll get the forklift you’re after, as long as you do your research, have reasonable expectations and don’t overbid. 


If you’re not sure where to begin, why not browse through our used and new forklift listings, or browse through some of the forklift auctions that are coming up.

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