Forklift Won’t Start? Here’s What To Do

Forklift Service

It’s a warehouse manager’s worst nightmare - you go to fire up your lift truck at the beginning of the day and...nothing. It won’t start. All over Indiana, forklift operators have to deal with unresponsive lift trucks, with no idea of where to even start troubleshooting. That means wasted time and lower productivity for your business.

So what do you do? Just like there are several different types of Indiana forklifts, there are several reasons an engine might not start. Though the easiest solution is to get your forklift serviced by a certified professional, you can do some basic troubleshooting on your own to try and identify the issue. Keep in mind that certain issues will require professional maintenance even if you’re able to identify the problem.

Common Reasons Why Forklifts Don’t Start

To start a basic forklift troubleshoot, try to eliminate some common reasons why it may not be starting. Here are some of the usual suspects.

Fuel Source

Is your forklift getting fuel? It might not be, for a variety of reasons. Let’s break down those reasons based on the type of forklift engine.

Electric Forklifts

  • When was the lift truck last charged? Was it connected to the charger correctly after its last use?
  • Were there any power outages or electrical surges that could have affected the charge time of the forklift?
  • Try to use the auxiliary functions of the forklift (lights, brake, etc). Are you getting power to any part of the lift?

Answering these questions can narrow down the location of the problem, making maintenance turn into a simple charge, or can help you and your service technician more easily fix the problem.

Internal Combustion (IC) Forklifts

  • For diesel or gas engines, has the fuel sat in the forklift’s tank for a long time? When was the last time it had a completely new tank of fuel?
  • Are you able to smell the odor of fuel more so than usual? Could there be a fuel leak somewhere that is causing the forklift to not start?
  • Have you recently checked the other fluid levels in the forklift, specifically the oil? Some forklifts won’t let the fuel valve open unless there is sufficient oil in the engine.

If you can answer these questions with a yes, you can likely isolate the problem if it has something to do with the IC engine.

Forklift Battery

The battery is an integral part of the starting mechanism of your forklift, and any problem with it can result in a non-functional lift. Try disconnecting the battery, inspecting it for any corrosion around the connections, and reading it with a VOM meter. If those don’t yield any answers, reconnect the battery and try to use the auxiliary functions of the lift: the lights, horn, or other non-engine parts. If they work, you can rule out a dead battery or a bad connection to it. Try also using the horn at the same time as the lights - if the lights dim when the horn is pressed, there may be a malfunctioning fuse or plug somewhere that needs replaced.

Other Common Forklift Non-Starters

Some other possibilities to consider as to why your forklift may not start might include:

  • Safety features - Is there an emergency power-off switch flipped, preventing the engine from starting?
  • Cold engine - Some engines may not start immediately after long exposure to the cold. Try to move the lift to a warmer environment for a bit before trying to start it again.
  • Seat switches - Many lifts require a certain amount of weight to fill the seat before they’ll power on. Be sure to place your weight firmly in the seat when you try to start the engine.

Like mentioned before, many of these issues may have to be serviced by a certified forklift technician. Not only can the fix be highly complicated, trying to perform your own forklift maintenance in Indiana can be dangerous and void any warranty or service agreement you have on your current forklift. Play it safe and call Tynan Equipment Company at 317-597-4003 to get your equipment fleet back in working order.

If your forklift won't start, you may need to do some basic troubleshooting.

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