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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. They keep your operations moving and your operators safe. Knowing when it’s time for a forklift tire change can help reduce truck downtime and worker injuries. You don’t want to replace your forklift tires too soon, as this can cost more money. You don’t want to replace them too late, as this can make it risky to operate the truck. Knowing how long forklift tires typically last can help you make the right decision.

Getting the Most Out of Your Forklift Tires

To get the full life span from your forklift tires, be sure to get the right tires for the job. This means taking into account how you use the forklift, where you use it, and under what conditions. Proper maintenance will help extend the life of your forklift tires, which can save you thousands of dollars.

Factors that determine when it’s time for a forklift tire change, include:

Tire usage. Forklift tires are measured in hours rather than miles. They will last much longer on a truck used only 10 hours a week than one used 40 hours a week.

Operator driving habits. As with cars, driving habits affect the wear and tear on forklift tires. If operators engage in quick starts and stops and sharp cornering, it will shorten the life of the tires. Driving too fast and spinning the tires will also wear them out sooner.

Floor conditions. Smooth surfaces lead to longer lasting forklift tires. Rough or abrasive surfaces wear them out much quicker. Debris on the floor makes it unsafe to drive and can damage the tires.

Job site conditions. A humid work site can create condensation on the floor. This can cause the tires to spin more, which puts more wear and tear on the them. Driving a forklift without a load can also shorten the life of forklift tires.

Tire type. Pneumatic tires tend to wear out faster than solid pneumatics, which are more durable. Pneumatics can also be punctured, causing a flat. Polyurethane tires (a type of press-on tire) tend to last twice as long as cushion tires.


Some factors can require a forklift tire change before they get a chance to wear out These include:

Contact with chemicals.  Gasoline, oils, and grease are common in warehouses and other indoor job sites. Frequent contact with these and other chemicals can create wear patterns that lead to blowouts.

Heat. Heat buildup on forklift tires can be a problem, especially on long shifts. Heat can cause the rubber to soften and change the support the tires provide for the lift. Heat can also cause the rubber to strip quicker from the tires.

Uneven driving surfaces. Driving over bumps or on uneven surfaces can damage the tires. Loose rocks and gravel can puncture some types of forklift tires, requiring a forklift tire repair or change.

Under-inflation. Tires that aren’t filled to the proper volume will always wear out quicker than tires filled to the right pressure.


How do you know when to replace forklift tires? Look for these signs:

Treadwear or balding.  To determine if it’s time for new forklift tires, 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 are a sure sign 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 unsafe and should be replaced right away.

Flat Spots. Misaligned tires or sharp stops with heavy loads can cause flat spots. If you notice flat spots on pneumatic or cushion tires, it’s time to replace them. It’s also time to retrain your workers.


First, never change only one tire at a time. For safety, always replace the two tires on the same axle, even if one still has plenty of tread left.

If your company has a tire press, how to change a forklift tire is fairly simple. Use a jack to lift the truck. (Do not use another forklift.) Unscrew and remove the wheel. Remove the old tire from the wheel. Attach the wheel to the tire press and press the new tire onto the wheel. Reattach the wheel to the forklift, and lower back to the ground. Test for balance and rolling.

State and federal law require workers to be trained in forklift wheel and tire maintenance. If you don’t have a tire press or trained workers, you may have to outsource the job to a mobile forklift tire changing company.  They will come to your business and replace the tires using a trained technician.


Tires are an important part of forklift safety. In fact, OSHA requires companies that use forklifts to have a maintenance plan for each truck. It should include a process for when to replace forklift tires. Workers should also be trained on how to inspect tires for damage and wear. A good rule of thumb is to replace forklift tires once a year, even those with a light workload.

Forklift training is also important for worker safety. has you covered when it comes to training your team on all aspects of forklift safety.

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