Maintenance managers and warehouse supervisors understand that forklift maintenance is a critical aspect of lean warehousing and operations. Keeping these essential pieces of equipment running efficiently is vital for productivity and optimization. This guide and the calculator (look up matrix) provides an estimate of the costs associated with maintaining a forklift based on term, model type, and annual hours of operation.

Understanding Forklift Maintenance

Maintenance costs can vary significantly depending on the model type of the forklift and the frequency of use. Electric forklifts, for example, may have different maintenance requirements compared to internal combustion models. Additionally, the term of maintenance—whether monthly or annually—will also impact the overall cost.

Factors Influencing Maintenance Costs

Several factors determine the cost of maintaining a forklift, including:

  • Model Type: Different models have varying parts and service costs.
  • Annual Hours: More usage translates to more frequent maintenance needs.
  • Wear and Tear: The nature of the work environment affects maintenance frequency.

Monthly Maintenance Estimates

Monthly maintenance typically involves routine checks and minor repairs. Costs may include:

  • Lubrication and filter changes
  • Inspection of brakes and electrical systems
  • Tire and wheel maintenance

Annual Maintenance and Repair Expenses

Annual maintenance often includes more extensive servicing and can prevent costly repairs down the line. Key expenses may cover:

  • Engine or motor servicing
  • Replacement of significant components like forks or transmission
  • Comprehensive safety inspections

Cost Estimation Based on Usage

The annual hours a forklift operates play a significant role in determining maintenance costs. A forklift operating 2,000 hours a year will have different maintenance needs compared to one used for 500 hours annually. It’s crucial to track usage to accurately predict maintenance budgets.

To estimate the annual and monthly forklift maintenance costs, use our forklift maintenance and repair costs estimator below.

You will need to know how many operating hours you will use. Like miles on a car, the operating hours on a forklift determine the service and repair intervals for a forklift. The more you use a forklift, the more you can expect the maintenance costs to go up.

How to Estimate the Cost of Forklift Maintenance

Every forklift dealer has historical data on what it costs to maintain a forklift based on hours. They use the cost per operating hour to determine how much a full maintenance contract will cost. Using this guide, forklift dealers and repair companies can accurately estimate the retail price for forklift maintenance.

Failing Forklift Batteries Increase the Cost of Forklift Maintenance

When a battery if fully charged, the voltage of the battery is usually a few volts higher than the nominal voltage. What that means is that the voltage of a 36 volt battery is often 38 volts or more when fully charged.

Similarly, and discharged battery does to produce the same voltage. The drop in voltage can be 4 volts less than the nominal voltage. Therefore, a 36 volt battery can be as low as 32 volts when discharged.

As Volts Decrease Amps Increase to Maintain Current

Your forklift draws current to run. When volts reduce, amps increase to deliver the same current. Therefore, as the a battery discharges, the voltage lessens and the amps increase, putting greater strain on the electrical components inside a forklift truck.

Therefore, expect the price of forklift maintenance to increase when a battery underperforms.

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Forklift?

Use our calculator below to estimate the cost to maintain a forklift and the estimated maintenance savings you can expect from converting your fleet from batteries to hydrogen fuel cells. Add an estimated additional 14% (28% total maintenance savings) when switching from internal combustion forklifts to electric forklifts equipped with fuel cells. The reason is electric forklifts cost approximately 14% less to maintain compared to the equivalent I.C. model.

For more handy warehouse efficiency calculators click here.

Fuel Cells and Lithium Batteries Deliver a Constant Voltage and Reduce the Cost of Forklift Maintenance

Man driving a forklift powered by a fuel cell
Image: Fuels cells reduce forklift maintenance costs due to the constant voltage they deliver

Fuel cells for forklifts deliver a constant voltage, usually about 40-volts for a 36-volt lift truck. This keeps amps low and reduces the heating and cooling cycle that damages electrical components, adding to maintenance costs.

Lithium batteries deliver a more consistent battery voltage than lead acid batteries. Therefore, there is a reduced amp draw through the motor compartment than see otherwise from a lead acid battery, reducing the wear and tear and overall maintenance expense.

Interested to Learn More about Fuel Cells for Forklifts?

Here is a fuel cell designed to work in a forklift. If you want to learn more about fuel cells, click here.

Forklift Fuel Cell on a pallet
Image: forklift fuel cell with the cover off
man refueling a forklift fuel cell
Image: Operator refueling a forklift fuel cell. It takes on average only 90 secs to refill the forklift with enough hydrogen for a full shift


To maintain lean operations and ensure reduced waste in both time and resources, consider consulting with experts in the field. Lean Inc. offers specialized knowledge in lean management and can assist in optimizing your maintenance strategies.

For a more detailed breakdown of costs and to explore how Lean Inc. can help you achieve improved productivity and lower costs through efficient forklift maintenance, contact us today.

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