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How to Determine Used Forklift Value: A Buying and Selling Guide

Does your workplace need a forklift but you don’t have the cash flow to buy a new one? A used forklift offers a cost-effective option for employers with tight budgets and a moderate workload for the truck. Or maybe you’re wondering how to sell a forklift or trade one in for a newer model. If so, how much should you pay for a used forklift? And how much is your forklift worth on the market?

Understanding forklift value is a key factor when buying or selling a truck. You don’t want to overpay when buying one. And you don’t want to undervalue when selling one.

This blog provides a basic forklift pricing guide to help you through the process.

Calculating Forklift Value When Buying a Used Truck

The value of a used forklift can vary widely. The price you pay will depend on many factors, including:

  • The company that build the forklift. Name brands will cost more than lesser ones. Why? Because they offer better technology and performance.
  • The operating capacity and lift power. Operating capacity refers to how much weight the forklift can handle. The more powerful the truck, the higher the price.
  • The engine type. Purchase prices for electric and fossil fuel forklifts tend to be about the same. Electrics can cost more if you need extra batteries and equipment. Over the long run, they cost a lot less to operate on a daily basis.
  • The type of tires. Pneumatic tires cost more than cushion tires. They offer better traction and smoother driving. They can also handle tougher terrain better than cushion tires.
  • Number of hours on the forklift. Forklift “age” isn’t determined by the number of miles driven. It’s how many hours of operation. One key factor when buying a used truck is how many hours per day you will use it. If it’s a long shift lifting heavy loads, a truck with fewer hours on it will last longer and perform better. Older forklifts may also end up costing more in maintenance and repairs.

A Quick Forklift Pricing Guide

As mentioned, used forklift prices vary. However, the following forklift pricing guide provides a good range for used truck prices versus new.

3,000 lb. Electric Forklift

Used:  $5,000 – $10,000

New: $20,000 – $30,000

5,000 lb. Internal Combustion Forklift

Used: $10,000 – $15,000

New: $15,000 – $30,000

Annual Operating Costs (based on a 250-day work year)

Electric forklifts: $1,500 – $2,000

Diesel forklifts: $12,00 – $15,000

Gasoline forklifts: $10,000 – $12,500

Using a Forklift Value Calculator

Valuing a forklift isn’t as simple as punching a few numbers into a calculator.

The following factors will help you determine a fair price when buying or selling.

Forklift Age.

Forklifts depreciate off the lot, just like cars. To come up with a ballpark value for a forklift, look at the serial number to determine its age. Research the price of the model when new. Then deduct depreciation – about 15% or less per year. This will give you a  base price starting point.

Use and History.

Forklifts that have worked long shifts every day will age faster than those with lighter workloads. Moving heavy loads and extreme weather can also cause them to age faster. You can compare the hours logged to the mileage of a car. All hours should be recorded. This key is knowing the number of hours the forklift was used for lifting and moving loads. This will provide a more accurate forklift value.

Extra Features.

Extra features on a used forklift almost always bump up the price. A digital panel, air conditioned cab, automatic load weighing scales, and other attachments all add to the value. To determine their added value, price the features when new. Then subtract for depreciation and being sold as a package.

Current Condition.

Forklift value depends to a large degree on how well it was maintained. Paint in good condition, good tires, a damage-free mast, and a clean, well-maintained engine will add up to a higher value. Also take into account any parts or features that have recently been replaced.

Dealer Maintenance and Service.

When buying a used forklift from a dealership, look for:

  • On-site services during convenient hours
  • Quick response to breakdowns
  • Quality parts on hand

Buying from a dealer will likely cost more. However, it will increase the forklift value by saving on operating costs and keeping your fleet running smoothly. When trading in your forklift, you will get more if the truck has less than 10,000 hours on it. Older trucks get less for two main reasons. They usually don’t meet EPA standards. Also, they may be considered a safety risk.

How To Sell a Forklift

If you prefer to sell your used forklift, the following tips can help:

  • Appraise your forklift’s value. Do some research to find out what forklifts of the same model and age are selling for. This will allow you to set a fair yet competitive price.
  • Take good photos. Give your forklift a tune-up and repair any cosmetic blemishes. Then post pictures on your web site or other sites that sell used trucks.
  • Describe the condition of your forklift. This should include model, year and overall condition. Note any recent repairs, part replacements or upgrades.
  • Be honest. Stress your forklift’s best features but also be frank about any problems or defects. Buyers want to know exactly what they’re getting.
  • Be prepared to negotiate. Even if you set a fair price, you may end up selling for less that you want. For example, if a part needs to be replaced, you may need to deduct the cost of the repair from your asking price.

The Number One Cost-Saving Factor: Trained Operators

Having trained forklift operators won’t reduce the cost of buying a forklift – new or used. But it will reduce operational costs while improving safety and productivity. It will also keep your business compliant with OSHA safety guidelines.

Check out the different forklift training courses from Our online courses only take one hour for workers to complete their training. The training is 100% OSHA-compliant. And workers can print their certification card as soon as they pass the test. Sign up today for the fast, affordable forklift training you need.

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