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When Should Forklift Tires Be Replaced?

how to tell when forklift tires should be replaced
One of the most critical safety components of your forklifts is the tires. Tires keep your operations moving and keep your operators safe. So, knowing when to replace forklift tires is key for minimizing downtime and reducing worker injuries.

What Causes Tire Wear?

There are a lot of factors that can influence tire wear. Depending on the working conditions that your lift is exposed to, wear factors can be different. However, here are some common conditions that influence tire wear:

  • Contact with chemicals. This can be as simple as gasoline, oils, and grease, which are common in warehouses and parking lots. Chemicals can change the wear patterns for tires.
  • Heat. When tires get hot, during long forklift runs, the rubber can soften and change the support that the tires provide for the lift. Heat can also cause the rubber to strip quicker from the tires.
  • Uneven driving surfaces. Forcing your lift to go over bumps or driving it on uneven surfaces like dirt and gravel can cause quicker wear on your forklift tires.
  • Under-inflation. Tires that aren’t filled to the manufacturer’s recommended volume will always wear quicker than tires that are filled appropriately.

Signs for Replacement

It’s important to know what to look for to determine when to replace forklift tires. Look for these tire replacement indicators.

  • Tread Wear or Balding. Just like the tires on your vehicle, one of the easiest ways to determine if it’s time for new forklift tires is to look at the tread wear or for balding. Both pneumatic and cushion tires will become less effective when their tread gets low. For pneumatic tires, when the tread is close to gone or you notice bald spots, it’s time to replace the tires. For cushion tires, when the size of the tire is 2 inches less than the original size, it’s time for new tires.
  • Cuts or Tears. Cuts and tears on forklift tires is a sure indicator for replacement. Even if only one tire has a noticeable cut or tear, replace all four tires to keep your forklift in a safe working condition.
  • Chunking. This happens with cushion tires and is common when the tire comes into contact with a sharp object such as dock plates and scrap metal. Tires with chunks missing are very dangerous and should be replaced right away.
  • Flat Spots. Misalignment of tires or sharp stops with heavy loads can cause flat spots. If you notice flat spots, on either pneumatic or cushion tires, it’s time to replace the tires and it’s time to retrain your operators.

Establishing a Maintenance and Replacement Plan

OSHA safety requirements demand that employers who run heavy equipment like forklifts have a set maintenance plan for each piece of equipment. This plan should include a process for when to replace forklift tires, which starts with operator inspection checklists. These can be done daily, or at the beginning of each shift. Operators should be trained on how to properly inspect tires for damage and wear, and indicate condition issues on a standard inspection form. Use these forms to determine tire replacement and other necessary maintenance. If your equipment is not used heavily, a good rule of thumb is that forklift tires should be replaced annually.

Tires are an important part of safely operating a forklift. To keep your business productivity high and ensure worker safety, having a good replacement schedule and an inspection checklist for forklift tires is essential. has you covered when it comes to training your operators on driving forklifts safely and taking care of each part of the equipment, including the tires.

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