A forklift should be inspected properly and given a test run before purchasing it. This applies specifically to trucks being bought on the World Wide Web. It is very essential to find potential problems with trucks acquired from companies on-line.
Starting the engine from cold is a good idea. Note whether there is excessive smoke and the ease with which the engine turns over. This is particularly essential with IC engine trucks.
The test run should include an inspection of the truck's performance in tough situations. A qualified operator could drive the truck in forward and reverse, up the ramp.
You can perform your own inspection of an IC engine truck. On a clear part of floor, run the truck around for several minutes while a qualified operator tests the hydraulic functions. Then, examine the ground underneath for indications of fluid leakage. Even seemingly insignificant leaking can lead to serious problems that will be really expensive to repair later on.
A qualified individual should check the chains and masts. Check with and without a load that the mast operates smoothly. Watch for sticking or 'binding' of the mast. A warning sign is play in the mast channels or between the mast and fork carriage. One more is creeping forward or creeping down of the mast when loaded. These could be symptoms of problems with ram, valve or seals.
The mast may have been changed at some time if the truck is not new. Make certain that the mast and any fitted attachments adhere to the rating plate on a truck. Make certain that the sideshift is not sticking when loaded.
Looking closely at the thickness of the heel for damage or wear should be included in the inspection. The manufacturer of the truck specifies minimum thickness. A loose fit could mean the hanger points or carriage are worn. Watch for cracks on the arms at heels and mountings.