Used forklifts ­– buyer beware

Milton Keynes, UK: The British lift truck market is ‘flooded’ with cheaply refurbished used forklift trucks, but buyers are being warned that ‘second life’ trucks that appear to be a bargain often turn out to be anything but.

“It is very easy to get your fingers burnt if you don’t know what to look for when buying a used forklift,” says Neil Warren, Jungheinrich UK‘s used equipment and short-term rental director.

“Many used trucks which are offered for sale as ‘refurbished’ have merely been cleaned, serviced and repainted and their performance levels can often leave a buyer feeling short changed,” he says.

“The market is awash with used equipment at the moment.  The majority is sold by reputable dealers, who in the main are moving on machines which have returned from long-term contracts.  Some of these machines are third and fourth life contracts that have worked in some tough applications and have no service history.

“I think it is fair to say that truck refurbishment standards and processes fluctuate wildly from dealer to dealer,” Warren says.

"It is very easy to get your fingers burnt if you don't know what to look for when buying a used forklift," says Neil Warren, Jungheinrich UK's used equipment and short-term rental director

“It is very hard to verify the quality of what you are buying from, for example, an internet advertisement.  Everyone will view a truck before they purchase but it is impossible for the user to know what the tell tale signs of a low quality refurbishment are.

“Because most forklift truck users are not fully trained to spot signs of wear and tear – perhaps around the mast and the axle – I would advise anyone looking for a used truck to try and find a certified lift truck Thorough Examination engineer to take a look at the truck for you before you buy.”

“Of course, there is a need for the customer to do more than kick the tyres before declaring themselves satisfied that any pre-owned machines they intend to introduce to their site are fit for purpose.  There’s a hefty responsibility and duty of care to ensure employee safety.”

“It’s not unusual for equipment that is offered for sale on the global market and imported into the EU for the first time to be more than 10 years old,” says Neil Warren.  “This means that both EU and ISO standards could have been revised twice since the original date of manufacture.  Indeed, from my experience, it is apparent that a number of used machines achieve their highly competitive pricing at the expense of compliance with EU safety standards.”

The difficult trading conditions have seen a sharp rise in demand for used trucks.  Indeed, sales of Jungheinrich’s ‘second life’ machines have doubled in the past year.  However, wherever possible, Jungheinrich limits the number of used Jungheinrich-branded trucks that re-enter the market via independent dealers.

“We are fiercely protective of the brand image of Jungheinrich ‘second life’ trucks and feel that this would be diluted if we allowed our products to be refurbished by dealers,” says Neil Warren.

“We are the first forklift truck manufacturer to have a factory dedicated to used truck refurbishment,” says Neil Warren.  “The advantage of carrying out this work within the group is that we know all of the trucks that leave Dresden have been overhauled according to Jungheinrich’s quality standards so that they meet all legal requirements as well as our customers’ needs and expectations.”

Trucks that have been through the Dresden refurbishment process are marketed in the UK as the Ready2Go range and Jungheinrich has opened a number of used equipment showrooms around the UK where clients can view Ready to Go trucks for themselves.

In addition to the models on display at the new showroom facilities, Jungheinrich is able to source trucks.  “Typically, if a customer requires a model that is not in stock at his or her local showroom, the desired truck can be located and normally delivered within two to three weeks,” says Warren.

“Sales of our used trucks are growing rapidly.  Interestingly we are getting a lot of business from users who previously opted to acquire a low budget used truck but found that it was only good for scrapping little more than 18 months down the line.  Our Ready2Go range offers far better value for money, over the long term.”