A forklift must be inspected properly and given a test run prior to purchasing it. This applies particularly to trucks being bought online. It is important to find potential problems with trucks obtained from businesses online.
Be sure to start the engine from cold, and note the ease with which the engine turns over and whether there is too much smoke. This is especially essential with trucks which have IC engines.
The test run must include a check of the truck's performance in tough situations. A driver who is qualified can operate the truck in reverse and forward, up the ramp.
You can check an IC engine truck yourself. On a clear part of floor, run the truck around for several minutes while a skilled driver tests the hydraulic functions. Afterward, examine the ground beneath for signs of fluid leakage. Even seemingly minor leaking could result in serious issues that would be costly to fix later on.
A trained individual should check the chains and masts. Check with and without a load that the mast operates well. Watch for sticking or 'binding' of the mast. A warning sign is play in the mast channels or between the fork carriage and mast. Another is creeping down or creeping forward of the mast when loaded. These could be symptoms of issues with seals, ram or valve.
The mast might have been changed at some time if the truck is used. Make certain that the mast and any fitted attachments follow the rating plate on a truck. Check that the sideshift is not sticking when loaded.
Looking closely at the thickness of the heel for damage or wear must be included in the inspection. The manufacturer of the truck specifies minimum thickness. A loose fit could mean the carriage or hanger points are worn. Watch for cracks on the arms at heels and mountings.