When To Replace Forklift Tires

 In Workplace Safety

Knowing when to replace forklift tires is something best left to experts. Fortunately, Storee Construction is staffed by nothing but experts.

Unlike most rubber-wheeled machines, forklifts don’t have a traditional suspension system. That means the whole weight of the forklift rests on the tires.

As the experts at Toyota explain, a fully loaded, 5,000-pound-capacity forklift must support upwards of 11,000 pounds of weight on its front tires.

“Using a forklift with tires that need to be replaced can damage your forklift and create a dangerous environment for your operator as well as others nearby,” they write. “Tires that need to be replaced can cause your forklift to be unstable. Riding in a forklift that needs to have its tires changed is uncomfortable for the operator and can lead to fatigue and mistakes.”

There are a few rules of thumb to guide us as we determine the best method for knowing when to replace any type of forklift tire. As the tire wears down under a succession of heavy loads and material handling over sometimes rough surfaces, it may be time to replace the tire (or tires, as the case may be).

Forklift Tire Inspection

Here’s what to look for — and, where applicable, when to look for it.

  • Wear line. Replace forklift tires when the tread wear indicator line reaches 50%. Continuing to operate a forklift after tires have exceeded the wear line is not just dangerous, it also means additional stress and strain on the forklift itself plus decreased fuel efficiency.
  • Tears. If there are tears and seams in the forklift tires, it’s (past) time to replace them. Ideally, the tires should be checked before every working shift in which they will be utilized. Inspecting forklift tires means examining each tire individually and then front versus rear and left versus right. Uneven wear could indicate a mechanical problem.
  • Flat spots. If your forklift’s tires spread flat at any point in their rotation, then it may be time for a serious inspection. Perhaps they just need air — or it may be replacement time. If they need air, be sure that, like all air pneumatic tires, they’re filled according to manufacturers’ recommendations for air pressure. Of course, one must know the forklift tire types before servicing them: polyurethane tires, air pneumatic, solid pneumatic tires, cushion tires, etc. Solid tires are made of solid rubber; we use these for outdoor work where the possibility of puncturing an air pneumatic is higher. Cushion tires work best on warehouse surfaces and outdoor asphalt.
  • Chunks. Damaged tires with deeper cuts, depressions, and/or chunking — i.e., pieces falling off — have reached the end of their lifecycle. Tire replacement should be forthcoming, and the forklift itself should be kept out of circulation until such time as it’s back on its rubbery feet again.

Additional Questions To Consider

Three more questions to ask they may help you decide when to replace the tires on your forklift:

  1. Are your forklift operators reporting reduced speed and comfort while operating?
  2. Is there less ground clearance and/or reduced lifting height?
  3. Has there been a reduction in load capacity?
  4. Is the forklift overheating?

While not necessarily indicative of faulty tires, each of these questions can help determine the appropriate time to replace them.

Finally, most forklift tire replacements don’t happen one at a time. To do so is to create an unsafe situation and an unbalanced forklift.

Back to a rule of thumb. If you replace a worn-out tire on the right side, you should also replace the one on the left.

Questions? Comments? Get in touch with Storee Construction today.