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What’s it Worth? A Guide to Buying and Selling Used Forklifts

Buying a used forklift is a cost-effective option for businesses that need a forklift but can’t afford a new one due to budgetary constraints. Determining a fair price to pay for a used forklift, however, can be frustrating and confusing. If you’re considering selling or trading in a used forklift, finding out what it’s worth can be just as difficult.

Whether you’re planning to buy or sell a forklift, knowing its market value is a key factor. You don’t want to overpay when buying a used forklift and if you’re a seller, you want to be sure you’re not undervaluing it. This article will give you the basics of setting a forklift’s price and guide you through the process.


The cost of used forklifts can vary widely. Here are some of the several factors that determine price you can expect to pay:

The Manufacturer.

Because they’re usually built with better technology and offer superior performance, well-known brands typically cost more than their lesser-known counterparts.

✓ Load Capacity and Lift Power.

How much weight the forklift can raise and carry will affect the forklift’s cost. The more powerful the truck, the higher the price.

✓ Engine Type.

Purchase prices for battery powered electric forklifts and lifts powered by gasoline, diesel or other fossil fuels tend to be about the same. Although electric forklift batteries need replacing from time to time, over the long run they’re considerably less expensive to operate on a daily basis.

✓ Type of Tires.

Pneumatic tires cost more to replace than cushion tires, although pneumatic tires provide better traction and smoother driving. Pneumatic tires also make lifts easier to handle on rough terrain than cushion tires.

✓ Number of Operating Hours on the Forklift.

A forklift’s age is based on how many hours it’s been used rather than the number of miles it’s been driven. Key factors to consider when buying a used forklift are what it will be used for and how many hours per day it will be operated. If it’s to be used for lifting heavy loads on long shifts, a used truck with low hours will both last longer and perform better than older forklifts with more hours, which can also cost more in maintenance and repairs.


How much does a forklift cost? Used forklift prices can vary based on their age, use history and power source. Here’s a general pricing guide that reflects the range of prices for both new and used equipment:

Lift Type                                                Cost Range Used                       Cost Range New         

3,000 lb. Electric Forklift                    $5,000 – $10,000                    $20,000 – $30,000

5,000 lb. Internal Combustion           $10,000 – $15,000                   $15,000 – $30,000

Based on a 250-day work year, here are the estimated annual operating costs broken down by power source type:

✓ Electric forklifts: $1,500 – $2,000

✓ Diesel forklifts: $12,00 – $15,000

✓ Gasoline forklifts: $10,000 – $12,500


Valuing a forklift takes more than just punching a few numbers into a calculator. Here are some factors to help you determine a fair purchase or sale price:

1. AGE.

Just like cars, forklifts begin to depreciate the minute they leave the dealer’s lot. To come up with a ballpark estimate, check the serial number to determine the lift’s age. Research the same model’s price when new and deduct 15% per year for depreciation. This will give you an estimated base price to use as a starting point.


Regularly moving heavy loads and operating under extreme weather conditions can also cause forklifts to age faster, so ask to see a record of all hours the forklift has been Forklifts that worked long shifts on a daily basis will cause them to age faster than those with a history of shorter and lighter workloads. Knowing the number of hours and how a forklift was used are key factors in estimating a used lift’s market value.


Extra features on a used forklift will normally add to its value and cause the price to go Examples include a digital control panel, air conditioned cab, automatic load weighing scales and similar options.


The market value of a used forklift depends largely on how well it’s been cared for. Good paint, good tires, a damage-free mast, a clean driver’s compartment and a well-maintained engine all add up to a higher overall Parts that have recently been replaced or features that have been added will also increase the forklift’s value.


Buying a used forklift from a dealer will probably be more expensive initially, although presumably it will be in very good working order, which should save on operating costs and keep your business running smoothly. When trading in a forklift, expect lifts with more than 10,000 hours to be worth less. Two more reasons older trucks are worth less are that they might not meet EPA standards and may be a safety risk.

When considering buying a used forklift from a dealer, things to look for are whether the dealer offers onsite service for breakdown repairs, their emergency response time and whether replacement parts are readily available.


If you’re considering selling your used forklift, here are some tips:

✓ Be realistic.

Do some online research to find out how much dealers and private parties are asking for forklifts of the same age and model, which will help you set a competitive price.

✓ Take good photos.

After thoroughly cleaning and repairing any cosmetic blemishes, take and post a picture or pictures on your web site or online sites that sell used heavy equipment.

✓ Accurately describe the forklift’s condition.

This should include the model, year and overall condition. Point out any recent repairs, part replacements or upgrades. Buyers deserve to know exactly what they’re getting, so be honest when describing your forklift’s features and be up front about disclosing mechanical problems or defects

✓ Be prepared to negotiate.

Even if you set a fair price, you may end up having to settle for less than your asking price.  For example, if there’s a part that needs replacing, you might need to deduct the cost of the repair from your asking price in order to make the sale.


Having trained and certified forklift operators won’t reduce the cost of buying a forklift, but it can reduce operational costs while improving safety and productivity while keeping your business OSHA compliant.

To find out more about’s training programs, check out our selection  online forklift training courses. The 100% OSHA-approved classes take only about an hour for your workers to complete, and what’s more, there’s no waiting since workers can print their certification card as soon as they pass the test. Enroll your operators today  our fast, convenient and affordable forklift training!

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