How to Troubleshoot a Backfiring Forklift

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Worst case scenario: one of your forklifts starts backfiring while loading in the middle of the day. It’s out of commission, and throws your whole supply chain out of whack. Fortunately, Indiana’s forklift authorities at Tynan have a few tips on how to troubleshoot a backfiring forklift.

Tip: Know Your Limitations, and Start Simple

A few dozen things can cause your forklift to backfire or misfire. Anything from loose wiring to a lean burning engine could be the culprit. In almost all cases, you should leave repairs to certified forklift techs. However, simple fixes like replacing spark plug wiring might be easy enough for a member of your team to fix without stopping your workflow. More in-depth work (like anything involving your engine or emissions) most definitely should be left to a maintenance team.

The key here is knowing your limitations, which brings us to the first step in troubleshooting a backfiring forklift: start simple. Start by eliminating the simple solutions that you know aren’t causing the issue. Doing that can save you time trying to troubleshoot an issue that you wouldn’t be able to fix without an experienced repair team anyway.

Tip: Isolate the Issue

When trying to fix a backfire, try to answer these two questions:

  • Is the forklift only backfiring when performing a specific action (starting, moving, or lifting)?
  • Can you isolate the location of the misfire?

If your forklift only backfires under certain conditions, it can help you find the root problem. Here are a few of the most common reasons for forklift misfires based on when it does backfire:

Backfires only when loaded: Loose-fitting valves, spark plug wiring issues, leaks in carburetor diaphragm.

Backfires on idle: Too lean of an air/fuel ratio (in a propane engine), loosely connected or malfunctioning alternator, or bad connections on your caps and rotors.

Backfires on startup: Malfunctioning muffler or carburetor, or serious engine or fuel intake problems.

These aren’t the only reasons your forklift might be backfiring, but they are some of the most common. Additionally, being able to isolate exactly where the backfire is occurring can help eliminate some of these possibilities, and tell you if it’s something that should be handled by a professional.

Tip: Have a Plan in Place

If the problem causing the backfire is serious enough to enlist some professional forklift maintenance, it helps to have a plan in place. Whenever you buy, rent, or lease a new forklift for your fleet, a comprehensive maintenance package can be a lifesaver. That way, you’ll be covered for the expenses of any unexpected forklift issues, and you can even get access to a rental forklift in the meantime while your full-time machine is being serviced.

You can get ahead of the game and have your own plan in place before disaster strikes by turning to Tynan. Call us at 317-597-4003 to talk about troubleshooting forklifts, signing up for a forklift maintenance package, or any other material handling needs in Indiana.

Backfiring forklifts can stop your business operations in their tracks.

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