How to Protect Your Forklift with Winter Maintenance

Two propane forklifts outside in the snow

Proactively performing winter maintenance on your forklift equipment will prevent costly repairs down the road. Harsh temperatures affect all aspects of forklift operation, so it’s important to get ahead of potential problems before they start.

Proper forklift care can help. Having a forklift maintenance plan in place for the season will prevent expensive servicing after it. Some key components to consider are the battery, tires, safety features, hydraulics, cab, and cooling system.

Industrial Forklift Truck is here to help you prepare for the cold weather season with proper winter forklift maintenance. Learn more about each of these factors and follow these steps for lift truck maintenance.

Winter Forklift Maintenance

As mentioned, there are six critical components to check when prepping your forklift for winter. These are the battery, tires, safety features, hydraulics, cab, and cooling system. We’ve broken each one down into actionable tasks for winter forklift maintenance.


Forklift batteries react to weather in the same way car batteries do. When it’s extremely cold outside, the battery has less capacity.

Electric forklifts can experience a 25-50% decrease in cycle times when they are cold. Harsh weather negatively affects the battery’s electrolyte, making it harder for the battery to perform the chemical reaction needed to power the forklift. This means batteries may discharge more quickly in extremely cold temperatures.

Of course, the best way to avoid this would be to store your forklift in a dry, insulated, and indoor space. Also, your regular forklift care should include checking and cleaning any cables. Test your battery with a load tester to ensure that it’s close to maximum strength. Perform necessary pre-operational checks and keep up with regular lift truck maintenance.

Learn more about general forklift battery maintenance here.


Cold weather can cause tires to lose air pressure more quickly. Check your tires for proper air pressure (if they are air-filled) before operating.

Also, the winter season often comes with frost and ice. Make sure your tire treads are deep enough to handle these slippery surfaces. This applies to operator safety as well. Remind operators to wear proper footwear to avoid slipping on icy surfaces.

Safety Features

The functionality of forklift safety features are especially important during the winter season. Since conditions are not favorable, it is important to actively prevent accidents. Check all safety features during your pre-operational check and perform lift truck maintenance if anything is out of order.

During the winter, the days get darker, so forklift lights are very important. Be sure to check that your lights are working and are bright enough to provide proper visibility. If you’ve been using halogen lighting, this may be a good time to switch to LED. LED lights will not be affected by freezing temperatures.


Hydraulic systems are especially targeted by cold weather. As part of your winter maintenance routine, be sure to keep all of your forklift’s moving parts well-lubricated. Freezing temperatures can cause these parts to stiffen up at the joints. When joints become brittle, they break. Proper forklift maintenance will prevent this.


If your forklift has an enclosed cab and windshield, now is a good time to make sure it is properly sealed. Not only will your operators be unhappy if cool air leaks in, but if moisture gets in, it can cause real damage.

Check the functionality of the heater and make sure the windshield wipers are working properly.

Cooling System

Part of your forklift care should include checking antifreeze levels with a hydrometer. Inspect forklift hoses and other system components for leaks. Do not operate the equipment if leaks are found.

Forklift Care Tips for Cold Weather Operation

Be extra diligent about your pre-operational checks. Make sure everything is in working order before you use the equipment. If anything is off, take the forklift out of service and have professional forklift maintenance done.

Winter maintenance and preparation also involve informing your operators of changing working conditions. Harsh weather may result in limited visibility and slippery surfaces. Remind your operators of the potential of dangers of winter and do everything you can to maintain safe working conditions.

After each shift, clean your forklift and remove any snow, dirt, or salt. Failure to do so can cause rust and corrosion. Also, park the forklift in a warm, dry place.

Three outdoor forklifts parked next to piles of snow

Beyond Lift Truck Maintenance

Unfortunately, even the best winter forklift maintenance is not enough if your equipment is due for a replacement. Is it time for a new forklift? If so, compare high-quality new or used forklifts for sale with Industrial Forklift Truck.

We partner with pre-screened dealers to provide a huge selection of equipment from top forklift dealers nationwide. Get free pricing on all your options today.

Prepare for Winter with Quality Forklift Equipment.