Forklift Maintenance: How to Conduct Fork & Chain Inspections

Large outdoor forklift with new forklift forks

Routine forklift maintenance helps prevent life-threatening accidents and expensive repairs. Forklifts complete tough tasks and are subject to excess stress. In particular, forklift forks and chains experience lots of wear. These parts are responsible for lifting thousands of pounds every day.

OSHA requires a daily forklift inspection to ensure that all critical parts are in working order. It’s important to check the condition of your forks and chains on a regular basis. Perform in-depth forklift preventative maintenance to extend the life of your equipment.

We’ll go over the specifics of a forklift fork inspection and forklift chain inspection. This will help you recognize when to replace certain forklift parts.

Industrial Forklift Truck is here to help your business succeed. Learn how to perform routine forklift inspections. Find more information about forklift maintenance and how it applies to your forks and chains.

Forklift Forks

Inspecting forklift forks should be part of every pre-operational checklist. How will you know when it’s time to replace your forklift forks? Surface cracks and visible damage are no brainers, but those are the only issues. Here are some things to check for:

  • Straightness

The blade and the shank should be completely straight. If either of these is bent, it’s time to replace your forklift forks.

  • Angle

The angle formed by the shank and the blade should never exceed 93 degrees. If the angle is larger, take your forklift out of service. Replace the forklift forks before continuing use.

  • Blade Height

The tips of each forklift blade should be about the same height. Make sure that any difference is less than three percent of the blade length. For instance, a 48-inch forklift blade shouldn’t have a difference in height greater than 1.44 inches.

  • Heel or Blade Wear

Measure wear on the heel and the blade. Replace your forklift forks once wear reaches ten percent. This is equivalent to a 20 percent reduction in fork capacity. 

If your forklift forks fail any of these tests, they need to be replaced. When blades start to wear or bend, forklift capacity decreases. Operating with damaged forklift forks is a toss-up because there is no way to tell what the equipment can handle.

Check your forks during daily forklift inspections. Be sure to take the equipment out of service and complete lift truck maintenance if you find any issues.

Forklift Chains

Forklifts use hydraulic pressure to lift the mast by raising the lift cylinders. Forklift chains are responsible for lifting the carriage and forks. Without this critical piece, you wouldn’t be able to carry anything.

Because of the role they play in lifting heavy loads, forklift chains are subject to lots of wear. This wear can cause mast chains to elongate or break. Forklift preventative maintenance and proper care can prevent this.

Complete forklift chain inspections as part of your pre-operational checklist. Here’s how you’ll know if it’s time to replace your forklift chains:

  • Chain Elongation

Use a chain gauge to measure elongation. If elongation is greater than three percent, it’s time for a replacement. Like forks, forklift chains cannot handle their rated load capacity when damaged. It’s important to perform proper forklift maintenance when you notice an issue.

  • Turned Pins

Pins hold the plates of the chain together. When a chain is not lubricated or is under stress, these plates create excess friction. This may cause pins to turn or protrude. If you find one turned pin, there are likely more. Inspect your forklift chains closely.

  • Broken Links

Unusual force can cause chain links to crack and break. Other common causes include lifting a load that is too heavy or using the equipment in a non-ideal environment. 

Perform a quick visual forklift chain inspection before each use. Schedule an in-depth inspection as part of your routine forklift maintenance.

Worker performing forklift preventative maintenance on warehouse equipment

Forklift Preventative Maintenance

Forklift preventative maintenance is critical to extending the lifespan of your equipment. Save money in the long run by investing in quality lift truck maintenance.

Schedule professional forklift preventative maintenance and servicing at least once every 90 days. These checks will ensure the safety and efficiency of your workplace.

OSHA also requires a daily forklift inspection before use. This includes a visual assessment of the equipment to ensure that it is in good working order. If you find issues, remove the equipment from service until forklift maintenance is complete.

Keep in mind that lift truck maintenance can only get you so far. If your equipment has consistent issues, it may be time for a replacement. When forklift maintenance costs exceed its financial benefit, consider purchasing new equipment.

Industrial Forklift Truck carries the largest selection of new and used forklifts nationwide. We also offer free pricing and information on each of your options. Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll match you with equipment in your area.

Find the Best Deal on a Forklift Near You Today.