When to Buy a New vs. Used Forklift

When to Buy a New vs. Used Forklift

If you're in the market for a forklift, you may have thought of buying a brand new truck. Who wouldn't want a piece of shiny new equipment added to their fleet? While it's common to believe that new is better, your operation may benefit more from budget-friendly used equipment. Both forklifts have their pros and cons. So how can you be sure if you should buy new or used?

There are different factors to consider when deciding between a new or used forklift. This blog post will help you make an informed decision right for your operation and budget. Read on to learn when you need a brand-new forklift or if a used one is an optimal choice for less cost.

When to Buy a New Forklift

Most managers push back on the new purchase because of its higher price. But depending on your operation and needs, it can be a wise investment. Buying a new forklift is the right choice for you if:

You're Planning on Heavy Usage

Operating a forklift for more than 4 hours a day is considered a "heavy use." If your facility requires frequent forklift usage, you may opt for a new lift truck. Because the forklift has less of a history, it will work efficiently for longer.

You Have Unusual Mast Requirements

Depending on the nature of your operation, you may need a non-standard mast. If you operate within confined spaces or with tall racking, buying a new forklift will provide you with more flexibility to choose the right mast size. The "standard" size for a mast is 189". And finding that mast on a "standard capacity" used truck (3,000 lb. to 10,000 lb.) shouldn't be too hard either. But something like a 370" mast on a used reach truck will be harder to find.

You Are After the Latest Forklift Features

Forklift manufacturers often update and improve their models. When you buy a new forklift, you have a wider choice of enhanced features. Engineers introduce technologies like forklift joysticks to make new lift trucks safer and more productive. When you're buying a new forklift, you can take advantage of new features. They may reduce your downtime, improve operator satisfaction, and minimize injuries. 

You Worry about the Shipping Cost

Many buyers overlook transportation charges for used forklifts. When you're buying a new forklift, you most likely will have to pay local delivery charges. You can avoid extra expenses by picking up the truck from the dealer yourself.

You're Looking for an Extended Warranty

Depending on the manufacturer, a new forklift will probably come with a 12 month warranty. For greater peace of mind, ask your dealership what’s included in the warranty. With the right service and warranty plan, you can have a forklift that functions as well as the day you got it for up to 3 years.

You're Considering a Trade-in

If you're planning on trading-in your truck after a few years, consider buying new. This way, you will get a higher trade-in price this way. Consider a proper maintenance plan for your new forklift - the better shape it's in, the better value you'll get.

The Cons of Buying a New Forklift

It's essential to go over the downsides of buying a new forklift to make the right decision for your facility.

The Cost

People tend to stay away from purchasing a new forklift because of its higher price. Buying a new forklift will cost you, on average, a few thousand dollars more than a used one. It will also depreciate as soon as the forklift gets delivered to your facility. However, your new forklift will have a higher trade-in value, so you can partially recoup your investment.

Here's another option. You can lower your costs by financing your new forklift with a lease. You will pay lower monthly payments instead of for the entire cost upfront.

The Delivery Time

It's typical to wait for up to 18 weeks for a new forklift to arrive. The lead time depends on the manufacturer, their order volume, and the features you've requested. If you need to use a forklift immediately, buying new may not be the best option.

When to Buy a Used Forklift

Buying a used forklift has some advantages over new equipment. Consider purchasing a used forklift if:

You Want a Lower Initial Cost

This is an easy one. A used forklift is almost universally cheaper than a new forklift. When buying used, depending on the condition, you could save nearly 25%-40% off the sticker price of a new forklift. Used forklifts can last for years before needing a replacement if you invest in proper maintenance.. In addition, you could even opt for enhanced features, like an advanced attachment or new tires.

You're Planning to Use a Forklift Lightly

If you only need to use a forklift occasionally, then a used one might be the right choice for you. Add up the number of hours you use your forklift. If it’s less than 15 hours a week, a used forklift may be a good fit for your business.

You Want to Get to Work

Getting a used forklift can be a matter of days, compared to up to 18 weeks for new equipment. You won't experience downtime or hinder productivity due to lead time..

Your Operators are Used to Their Trucks

Forklift manufacturers produce new models and refresh features regularly. At the same time, many operators are used to operating an older forklift. If you buy used equipment, chances are your operators won't have to spend time adjusting to a new truck. They will remain comfortable and productive, which correlates with lower incident rates.

You Want to Recoup the Investment Faster

A used forklift can arrive at your facility within a matter of days. The sooner you get the forklift, the sooner you can ramp up your productivity and recoup your investment.

The Cons of Buying a Used Forklift

If buying a used forklift fits your goals, consider the downsides to make an informed decision. 

Higher Maintenance Cost

Buying a used forklift is cheaper upfront. You will most likely need to spend more on maintenance and repairs than if you purchased new equipment. Research reputable sellers in your area to make sure you're getting a used truck in proper condition. It's also rare for a used forklift to have a warranty longer than 30 to 60 days. If you need a more extended warranty, you may have to spend more. Buying local can also help you cut down on the shipping costs.

Fewer Features and Model Options

If you need a particular set of features that are hard to find, your used forklift options will be limited. Some forklift models are just not as standard in the used market. For example, manufacturers don't produce large quantities of high-capacity trucks compared to more common smaller forklifts. The result is that fewer high-capacity trucks make it to the secondary market. The same is true for a forklift with tall masts. Keep your operation needs in mind when deciding on a used forklift.

Harder Servicing

If you're dealing with an especially old forklift or a one-off model, it may be challenging to find the right parts. And if you do manage to find them, be prepared to spend extra to get them. That's both the parts and shipping costs, as sometimes the parts are only available overseas.

Buy a Forklift with Confidence

Now you know some of the pros and cons of new and used forklifts, and you can make an informed decision about expanding your fleet. Buying used can be the right way to go if you're expanding your fleet to hit new productivity goals or replacing old equipment.

If you're in the market for a used forklift, The Lilly Company has your back. We've put together a Used Forklift Buyer's Checklist and Inspection Tips, so you can avoid buying a forklift that becomes a liability — download Free Used Forklift Buyer's Checklist and Inspection Tips here.

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