Should You Consider Buying Pre-Owned Forklifts?

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Buying secondhand forklifts can be a cost-effective solution for companies to meet their material handling needs. 

Whether you are a multinational corporation or an up-and-coming small-to-medium enterprise (SME), forklifts are an important cog in the wheel of your warehouse operations. It goes without saying then, that an investment in the right material handling equipment (MHE) will literally lighten your load, while the wrong purchase can lead to a decrease in productivity, safety, unhappy operators, serious reliability issues and unnecessary financial headaches.

Before you begin shortlisting suitable forklift options, you should first determine if your operational needs require new forklifts or if pre-owned forklifts might also be suitable. Both come with their own benefits; if you are an SME however, buying quality pre-owned forklifts enables you to benefit from a lower upfront cost outlay, dependent on the operational needs of your business, while achieving the desired material handling results within your operation.

Investing in pre-owned forklifts is not just about saving costs and meeting budget limitations. A diligent search for a reputable forklift brand that meets all local safety and environmental standards and is backed by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can lead to an offering of full-service maintenance history, certified safety inspection, dependable post-sales services and comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty for its pre-owned products.

Depending on your MHE needs, buying secondhand forklifts can be a smart business decision, rather than simply a cost-effective alternative. The key here is to involve reputable OEMs rather than small dealers who do not have relationships with a particular brand.


  • Higher upfront savings

Let’s start with the obvious; buying pre-owned equipment typically offers higher upfront initial acquisition savings than investing in the latest new models. Generally, pricing for electric forklifts is dependent on the load capacity, list of included features, type of technologies incorporated, quality of brand manufacture and the level of refurbishment required for the unit to meet all occupational health and safety regulations.

In today’s market, a secondhand electric counterbalance forklift may be made available for up to 50 per cent of the price of the new equivalent unit that has similar lifting capacities and features.

The difference in pricing is also dependent on the condition of the forklift, its age and operating hours, the type of refurbishments carried out and the comprehensiveness of the warranty provided. While upfront savings should not be the only reason for buying pre-owned forklifts, your investment in the right cost-effective MHE can lead to very healthy financial benefits while meeting your productivity requirements.


  • Quality without compromise

One of the most important aspects of buying pre-owned forklifts is to understand how they have been refurbished and that any work that is done includes the use of OEM parts. In addition to a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty and quality post-sales services, trustworthy forklift brands provide extensive refurbishing and safety checks on all their equipment offered for sale. This means their pre-owned forklifts have gone through mechanical checks, with faulty parts being replaced with their respective quality counterparts. Each forklift comes with its own maintenance records and the number of hours it has been in use.

Even if the machine develops a fault after a period of time, buying from reputable suppliers means they can easily and quickly replace the defective part with minimal downtime. Time is often equated with money, so it is imperative that your secondhand forklift has available parts when you need them. If done right, buying a pre-owned forklift should not mean compromising on product quality, performance, safety or reliability.


  • Minimal lead time

With new forklifts, you will generally need to pre-order the latest model weeks, or even months in advance if you want any hope of getting it as quickly as possible. If you need a forklift immediately due to last-minute work demands or if you suddenly require extra equipment to increase output, a secondhand forklift can often be more readily available for quick delivery.

If you are still undecided on whether to buy a new or pre-owned forklift, think through your MHE requirements and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the application?
  • How many hours do you need the equipment to operate per day?
  • What is the budget of your forklift investment (inclusive of maintenance costs)?
  • When do you need the forklift?
  • How many forklifts are required?

And always ask for a representative of the forklift company you are considering to visit your site and assist you in evaluating the right forklift solutions for your needs.

Based on your answers and the results from a site evaluation, you will be able to determine if a secondhand forklift is a valid choice for your operations. For example, if your forklifts are only in use for a couple of hours a day, you should consider a pre-owned forklift as the smarter choice. But, if you only use one piece of equipment in your operation and the uptime of this unit is critical to your operation, then the additional piece of mind that the reliability of a new unit brings might be worth considering.

More importantly, look for a trustworthy global forklift brand, such as Crown Equipment Corporation. Buying pre-owned forklifts from an established leading brand that manufactures and supports the equipment via company-owned operations can result in reliable operations while also providing surplus money to reinvest into further increasing warehouse productivity and improving levels of efficiency and safety.


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