Thinking of purchasing a new forklift? Benco Industrial Equipment, a well-established, certified Hyundai forklift dealer serving Jefferson County and St. Louis, draws upon its decades of collective experience to offer some helpful advice:

“It’s not the age, it’s the mileage”

Indiana Jones fans may recognize this quote from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it exemplifies the biggest consideration when thinking of buying a new forklift: how much mileage is on it? For our purposes though, we’ll replace “mileage” with “service hours”, because it makes for easier explaining. Also, there are two types of service hours: “key hours” and “dead man” hours. Key hours represent the total time the forklift was turned on, but not necessarily in-use. That’s why dead man hours are the most important criteria – when the forklift operator is standing on the dead man pedal, the machine is in use. With this in mind, we can now bring age into the equation to create a baseline for heavy usage: a forklift that’s five years old and has 12,000 dead man hours on it is probably due for replacement.

Work Environment

No, we’re not talking about whether your company has a great work environment because it offers “Hawaiian Shirt Fridays” and celebrates every employee’s birthday. Instead, we’re talking about the environmental conditions in which your forklift(s) perform. The cleaner and more controlled the environment, the less wear and tear a forklift will endure. Some factors that can shorten a forklift’s lifespan include:

  • How much it’s used outside vs. inside
  • The air quality in which the forklift performs – for example, a forklift used in a warehouse or dock near salt water will wear out faster. Also, forklifts used in the food processing or meat packing industries can be compromised by contaminants and other airborne particles that over time will adversely affect the forklift
  • Work environment temperature: a forklift working in a temperature-stable space won’t wear out as fast as a forklift used in extreme conditions like high humidity, freezing conditions, etc.

Mechanical Condition

Before you pull the trigger on a new forklift, review the following three key mechanical areas:


When the forklift is turned on, its exhaust (assuming it’s gas-powered, of course) should be minimal and disappear as the vehicle warms up. Also, if your forklift starts emitting blue smoke, it’s a sign that a leak exists somewhere – usually around the piston rings, but maybe in the radiator, transmission, mast, and/or differential. Leaks are indicative of a forklift that’s seen better days.

Mast Operation

With our without a load onboard, the mast should go up and down smoothly, with no slippage or binding. If your forklift’s mast starts exhibiting herky-jerky behavior, that’s a bad sign.


Like any wheeled vehicle, a forklift’s tires will wear down with use. Wear and tear is natural, unless it’s uneven (i.e. two wheels are more worn than the other two), which could relate to axle misalignment developed over the years. Instead of investing in costly repairs, you might be better off buying a new forklift.

Speak with our leading St. Louis forklift dealer today about our full line of top-quality forklifts – including a great selection of Hyundai forklifts, which are some of the industry’s most durable and reliable.