When it comes to heavy machinery, it’s imperative that every aspect of it is looked after so as to ensure the safety of your employees, whether they be a forklift operator or someone working on the warehouse floor. One of the most important parts of any vehicle is the brakes, so with that in mind, you’ll need to take steps to inspect them and determine when the right and safe time is to have them replaced.
How to inspect your forklift brakes
A functioning and safe set of brakes on any vehicle is essential, but with forklift brakes, the OSHA requires them to be inspected on a daily basis, before operations commence. This makes up what is known in the industry as a ‘pre-shift inspection’. This inspection needs to be carried out by a competent person who is aware of the warning signs of wearing forklift brakes. Here’s how to properly inspect the forklift brakes:
- Start with the foot brake, tapping it gently until you feel some resistance. A brake that’s in good working order will start to resist relatively quickly, so if it doesn’t, then it’s time for them to be checked in more detail and potentially replaced
- Check the parking brake. The vehicle should not move at all when stationary, so if it doesn, then you’ll need to have the parking brake looked at more closely and possibly replaced to ensure safe operation
Tips worth remembering:
- The brake pedal should not go all the way down to the floor
- Brakes should have, at least, some resistance so as to ensure safe stopping distances at all times
- A parking brake must hold a grade of 15%
How long should forklift brakes last?
A general rule of thumb for the lifespan of a forklift brake is around 5,000-7,000 hours. The number varies considerably because each forklift will experience a different amount of wear depending on how much it’s used and what it’s used for.
For example, a forklift that’s been driven for longer distances without having to stop and start on a regular basis will have brakes that are in better condition than a forklift that does perform lots of smaller tasks with a considerable amount of stopping and starting involved. This is why an exact timeframe cannot be put on the longevity of forklift brakes.
When should I replace my forklift brakes?
As already mentioned, there isn’t a set time limit in which your forklift brakes will deteriorate, but there are several indicators to look out for that’ll help you to determine whether or not your forklift brakes need to be replaced. Some of the things you need to look out for if you suspect that new forklift brakes are needed includes:
- A forklift that’s worked more than 5,000 hours
- Experiencing sudden stopping of a forklift
- Dust and debris causing ridges to become present on the brake shoe
- Spongy brakes when pressed
- Brakes offering very little resistance when pressed
What can cause forklift brakes to fail?
There are several things that can cause forklift brakes to fail, sometimes prematurely. In order to ensure your brakes are in good condition, it’s important that your forklift is inspected and maintained on a regular basis. You should keep the parts and components free from dust, dirt and debris, especially in and around the brakes. This should be done, on average, every 250 hours.
Some of the things that can cause forklift brakes to fail prematurely include:
- Parking brake not being released
- Keeping the foot on the brake whilst attempting to drive it
- Damaging the wheel cylinders or hub seals as a result of brake shoes and drums being covered in oil
- Aggressive braking thanks to limited stopping distance
- Excessive braking for little or no reason
How can you stop your forklift brakes from failing?
As already touched upon, regular forklift maintenance is essential for maintaining the integrity of your brakes. However, it’s still an inevitable breakdown the older the forklift becomes and the more use it gets. If you want to avoid the cost of failed forklift brakes, then there is an option that’ll suit you, and that involves forklift hire.
Hire Forklifts are on hand to provide all of our customers with reliable, transparent and bespoke forklift hire contracts that can always be counted upon. No matter what it is you need, whether it be electric forklift hire, LPG forklift hire, reach truck rental and more, we’ll be able to provide you with the perfect solution to meet your needs and requirements and all for a reasonable cost.
If you’d like more information about how the professionals here at Hire Forklifts can help you today, get in touch with a member of our specialist team – we’re always happy to hear from you.