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In the market for some new forklifts? Knowing what kind of forklift to buy and how much you should be spending can be tricky. One of the most important decisions is whether you are going to buy a new forklift, or a used one. There are benefits to both and the choice really comes down to your budget, preferences and requirements.

That said, there is at least one basic guideline that is applicable to most buyers. If your business uses a forklift for less than 4 hours a day, a used model is almost always better. New forklifts start to pull ahead as you increase the workload.

Of course, there are plenty of factors to consider when choosing between new and used. In this article, we cover some of the major factors you will need to consider when deciding to buy a used or new forklift.

Used Vs New Forklifts Price

The first and, for most buyers, the most important factor when choosing a forklift is the price. Not only when you are considering between different makes and models, but when you’re deciding whether to buy new or used.

It won’t come as a surprise, but new forklifts will cost you more upfront. Like all used products, a second-hand forklift is going to be cheaper at the initial purchase. In fact, you can find good condition used forklifts for as much as half of their new counterparts.

This, obviously, is a huge saving for your back pocket, and can be a big factor when you’re choosing your forklift. But the price is more than just what it will cost you from the dealer. Forklifts are machines, and like all machinery, they need to be maintained.new forklift

Ongoing maintenance costs are something you will need to consider when deciding on a new or used forklift. If you buy a used forklift that starts playing up, you may end up spending more than you would have if you had purchased a new one.

There’s also a matter of parts, as you may (or may not) have trouble finding replacement parts that are affordable. Even though certain forklifts, like electric forklifts, are cheaper to service and maintain than others, these maintenance costs can still add up. Which is why the condition of your forklift is so important.

Forklift Condition

Condition is going to be a primary factor when choosing between a new or used forklift. While new forklifts are, as you’d expect, new, a used forklift can be in almost any condition, so you need a keen eye when inspecting. In particular, you want to make sure there’s no:

  • Rust
  • Damage
  • Indications of underlying fault
  • Fluid leaks
  • Battery faults

Used forklifts should always come with a condition report, listing the hours worked and general condition of the forklift. So straightaway, if there’s no report, don’t even consider it! From there, it’s really up to you and the results of the report.

You’ll want to take into consideration the age of the machine and any repairs or major issues it has had in the past. These are likely to be the biggest contributors to any future expensive repairs, and you may struggle to source parts for older models.

Of course, if you know what to look out for, this is the part where your expertise will shine. Anyone can compare a price, but knowing when a used forklift is in good or bad condition is a skill that can be the difference between an amazing buy or a disastrous (and very costly) mistake.

Along with the condition of the machine, you’ll also want to consider how long you’ll be using it for, and for what work.

Usage & Applications

Knowing exactly how long and what kind of work your forklift will be doing is a key element. Industry experts have a basic guideline for usage that hasn’t changed over the last few years:

  • If you’re using it infrequently or less than 4 hours a day—buy used
  • If you’re using it for more than 4 hours a day or very frequently—buy new

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that, but it’s as good a place to start as any!

The simple fact is, in almost every situation, a new forklift will outperform and outlast a used model. This is simply due to them being new, with more modern components and a more extensive warranty. But, if you’re already leaning towards used, don’t worry. Used forklifts are an ideal choice when your business doesn’t need a forklift running all day every day. forkliftIn fact, cost-wise you’ll find a used machine makes more sense, especially if you’re only using it for a few hours a week. With almost half the initial outlay of a new forklift, used forklifts are the cost-effective choice for casual use.

Sometimes though, your usage will require special parts or components, this is where things can get tricky.

Special Requirements

If your business has special requirements, then your purchasing decisions are likely special as well. The requirements may be something simple: maybe you just need a forklift that is compatible with your existing attachments? In situations like that, especially if your attachments are older or discontinued, you may find a used model more appropriate.

But, if you need that extra height, a special component, or something that just isn’t compatible with older machines, you’re most likely going to need to buy new.

This has less to do with new being better than used, or vice versa, than ease of access. It’s generally going to be easier to find the exact forklift that meets your requirements when you’re shopping new.

Of course, this doesn’t hold 100% true, and you should always assess your situation before making a decision.

New Forklift Warranty

Warranty is a fairly simple factor to consider when choosing between new or used. New forklifts will generally come with somewhere between 12-36 months warranty. This gives you great peace of mind when buying and can save you a lot of time and money on expensive repairs if something happens.

Manitou ForkliftUsed forklifts will generally come with some kind of warranty. But it’s usually limited and in some cases only covers 30 days, and maybe only specific parts of the forklift. This is why inspecting used forklifts before purchasing is so important.

Simply put, if you want the added peace of mind that a warranty gives (and are willing to fork out a bit extra), new forklifts are the way to go.

Pros & Cons of Used Vs New

When all is said and done, picking between used or new forklifts comes down to the needs of your business. To help summarise everything:

Pros Cons
New
  • Know you have the newest model on the market
  • Know what you’re getting
  • Comes with warranty
  • Can plan & foresee maintenance costs
  • Longer work life
  • Expensive upfront
  • Loses resale value quickly
Used
  • Generally 30-50% cheaper upfront
  • Price will remain competitive if you decide to sell
  • Cost-effective in low-usage cases
  • Little-to-no warranty
  • Can have hidden costs that blow out the price
  • May not be able to get parts or attachments
  • Shorter work life

There’s so much to consider when buying a forklift. Whether you’re buying a diesel, LPG or electric forklift, picking the right one can have serious implications for your business.

If you’re still trying to decide, why not browse through our available new and used forklifts to get an idea of what’s on the market. Or, try your luck at a forklift auction.

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