Forklift Maintenance Checklist and Schedule


The first rule of forklift maintenance scheduling is this: Performing regularly scheduled maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer is absolutely essential.

Forklifts and other materials handling equipment represent crucial investments in your business, and you must perform proper maintenance in order to:

  • Avoid costly downtime
  • Ensure peak performance
  • Maximize equipment lifespan

Vigilance is a must when it comes to adhering closely to your forklift maintenance schedule because downtime — especially when it comes at the wrong time — can lead to a chain reaction of lost hours and huge financial costs.

Keeping things organized with a forklift maintenance checklist can help ensure that you are hitting all of your important benchmarks.

What could go wrong? Here is an example based on a real-life story. Your company is unloading a trailer when your lift equipment breaks down and gets stuck between the trailer and the loading dock. Not only are you left without access to the heavy cargo in the trailer, such a scenario can also mean:

  • Your truck driver is delayed
  • Your warehouse team can’t do its job
  • Your loading dock is temporarily out of commission until the lift equipment can be fixed or moved, and
  • You’re forced to place a costly after-hours emergency service call to get the equipment up and running

Table of Contents

Daily Forklift Maintenance Checklist
Monthly Forklift Maintenance Checklist
Annual Forklift Maintenance
How NITCO Can Help

Daily Forklift Maintenance Checklist

Most warehouses are well-acquainted with some of the most important forklift preventive maintenance protocols because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires daily inspections.

Here’s what OSHA says about daily inspections:

All forklifts be examined at least daily before being placed in service. Forklifts used on a round-the-clock basis must be examined after each shift. [29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7)]

The operator should conduct a pre-start visual check with the key off and then perform an operational check with the engine running. The forklift should not be placed in service if the examinations show that the vehicle may not be safe to operate.

Remember! A vehicle in need of repair, defective or in any way unsafe, should not be driven and should be taken out of service immediately.

This means that at the beginning of each shift operators should be inspecting their equipment with an eye toward safety issues and mechanical issues, by checking the following.

  • Tires are inflated and free of damage or excessive wear.
  • Lug nuts are tight.
  • Axles and other moving parts are clear (free of stretch wrap/strapping).
  • Forks and mast are not bent, worn, cracked, showing excessive rust.
  • Mast lift chains and rollers are in good condition (look for metal filings or shavings).
  • Hydraulic lines are free of cracks/damage (look for moisture, leaks; check fluid level).
  • All visible hoses and cables do not show signs of damage.
  • The operator’s manual must be on board.
  • The data plate must be up to date and legible.
  • If the machine has a seat belt, it must be functional.
  • Start the machine and test its horn, lights and any other safety mechanisms.
  • Lift cylinders are in good shape (not pitted or scarred; no signs of fluid).
  • Move it a truck’s length to check for leaks and smooth operation.
  • Test the accelerator, brakes, parking brake and turn signal (if equipped).
  • Make sure steering is smooth, responsive and free of excessive play.
  • Raise forks up and down (to full extension if possible).
  • Make sure cables and hoses are seamlessly wrapped around guide rails.
  • Test attachment(s) to ensure they are secure, undamaged and operational.
  • Ensure tilt control operates smoothly without minimal drift or “chatter.”
  • Check to be sure gauges and instruments are working.
  • For propane/LPG trucks, make sure the fuel tank is secure and undamaged.
  • For electric lifts, check the battery charge level.

In addition to checking whether greasing or lubrication is needed, these daily inspections should also be used to flag any other maintenance needs. In many cases, operators are equipped to handle routine maintenance; in other cases, onsite maintenance personnel will handle many of these tasks.
In either case, there is always pressure to get these machines moving. Operators must be encouraged to take these daily checks seriously, since both valuable resources and safety are at stake.

Download Our Daily Forklift Safety & Maintenance Checklist >

Monthly Forklift Maintenance Checklist

Best practices for monthly forklift maintenance follow specific industry standards and are closely aligned with manufacturer recommendations — this is important for each of the reasons cited above, as well as for warranty considerations.

Monthly forklift maintenance schedules are much more involved and sometimes require diagnostic equipment. That is why a majority of warehouses choose to contract with their equipment provider to perform the necessary maintenance and offer additional peace of mind.

Monthly maintenance checkups typically include a wide array of actions involving all aspects of the machinery, including the following:


  • Lubricate chassis-mast attachment
  • Change engine air filter
  • Clean all breathers
  • Change engine oil and filter
  • Check all fluid levels
  • Clean and coat battery terminals


  • Contact tips
  • Switches
  • Time delay
  • Drive control system
  • All motors (hoist, drive, steer)
    • Blowout
    • Commutator
    • Brushes
    • Springs
  • Battery connectors


  • Cylinders for leaks/damage
  • Valves for leaks/operation
  • Pumps for noise/operation
  • All hoses-tubes-fittings
  • Tilt cylinder rod end adjust.


  • Blow off radiator
  • Radiator-coolant-hoses
  • All belts
  • Muffler
  • Spark plugs
  • Distribution point
  • Ignition switch
  • Instruments
  • Clutch adjustment
  • Hoses (LPG)
  • Fuel filter
  • Engine accessories


Chains & anchors

Tension rod locknuts

Forks-pallet-platform (visual)

Mast assembly for operation

  • Brake adjustment
  • Parking and/or dead man’s brake
  • Attachment operation
  • Steering
  • Horn
  • Lights-alarms
  • Bolts, nuts, cotter pins, etc.
  • Tires
  • Road test truck
  • Battery water level
  • Other

Note: The environment in which the equipment is operated also affects the level of monthly maintenance required. (For example: Machines are likely to endure more wear and tear being used in a rugged, indoor-outdoor fish pier operation than in a clean pharmaceutical company warehouse.)

Annual Forklift Maintenance

Annual maintenance protocols closely follow manufacturer recommendations and are typically tied to warranty protections, as well.

An annual checkup is also an opportunity to have a skilled, certified professional technician thoroughly check equipment for any potential repairs that may be needed to ensure optimal performance and durability.

How NITCO Can Help

Our equipment service and planned maintenance programs are tailored to your unique business needs, as well as the size and intensity of your operation — from low- or moderate-usage applications to multi-shift, high-usage sites and organizations with larger fleets and multiple shifts or locations.

Depending on your usage, we have the planned maintenance programs to keep all of your equipment running at peak efficiency.

Service options range from Time & Materials to Guaranteed Maintenance Plans and full Fleet Services Management.

Our team has 175 certified, GPS-equipped service technicians located throughout New England. So, should you ever experience a problem, we’re also ready to roll for prompt emergency on-site repairs.


Your Go-To Daily Forklift Safety and Maintenance Checklist

Our easy-to-reference equipment checklist will ensure your forklift operates at its highest level every day.

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