Electric Forklift Battery Maintenance Guide

March 07, 2023 - Last modified: February 16, 2023 @ 2:42 pm

An electric forklift is a critical piece of equipment in a warehouse or logistics operation. Without one, you can't get important work done day in and day out. It's vital to keep your unit up and running, which starts with understanding electric forklift battery maintenance. Read this guide to learn how to care for your battery.

The Importance of Electric Forklift Battery Maintenance

Routine maintenance and cleaning of equipment can feel like a burden when you already have a busy work environment. Because of this, some companies fail to make it a priority, focusing on other aspects of the business, such as productivity. However, it's hard to be productive if your forklift breaks down. Even if you have a fleet, losing one forklift has an impact on how much work gets done each day and how your warehouse runs.

Safety Hazards

One of the most critical reasons to put more effort into battery maintenance is safety. Discussion about forklift safety often centers around proper operation, safe working conditions and following weight limits for the forks. It's easy to overlook the potential threats hiding inside the mechanics of the unit.

An electric forklift battery can be dangerous if it is not properly maintained. One potential hazard is the risk of explosion or fire. If the battery is overcharged, it can potentially leak or even explode, which can be dangerous for both the operator and those working in the area.

In addition to the risk of explosion, batteries that are not properly taken care of can pose a safety risk due to decreased performance. If the battery is not charged enough, the forklift may lose power while in use, which could lead to accidents or equipment failure.

Larger Repairs

Failing to maintain a forklift battery could also result in you spending more money in other ways. For instance, problems with your battery can affect the wiring and electrical systems of the forklift. Rather than just paying the cost of the tools needed for forklift battery maintenance or the price of a new battery, you may also need to find the funds to cover electrical repairs or even replace the entire forklift.

Any failures of the forklift could also cause damage to other items. Imagine if a forklift battery fails while an operator is carrying a load in a tight space. The load may fall to the ground, resulting in broken inventory that your company could have to pay for. The forklift could also hit something in the warehouse, such as a shelving unit or other important equipment. Repairing these items can take a chunk out of your bottom line.

Forklift Lifespan

In general, the expected lifespan of an electric forklift battery ranges from three to five years, but maintenance habits can impact your results. Batteries that are consistently undercharged or overcharged can suffer from decreased performance and may need to be replaced more frequently.

Additionally, the operating conditions that the battery is subjected to can impact its lifespan. For example, batteries that are used in extreme temperatures or subjected to frequent vibration may have a shorter lifespan than those used in more moderate conditions.

Overall, learning the right ways to maintain a battery and committing to staying on top of cleaning and repairs can keep your team safer and more productive and prevent unexpected costs.

Key Steps in Electric Forklift Battery Maintenance

Taking care of a forklift battery doesn't have to be overly complicated, but it does require thought and effort. With a few steps, it can become much easier to keep your batteries and forklifts in good working order.

Making a Schedule

One of the first things you can do is create a maintenance schedule for your forklifts. By planning out dates for different tasks to be completed on each forklift, you can make sure each battery is always performing as it should and get ahead of any problems before they escalate.

To create a schedule, start by looking at the manufacturer's guide for the forklift. Often, the manual that comes with the forklift will include recommended intervals for certain services. When it comes to batteries, look for any suggested cleanings that should be completed after a certain amount of charge cycles.

You should also base your schedule on any previous maintenance or repairs. If you have purchased a new forklift, this is easy because you are the first one to build the repair history. For a used model, do your best to get maintenance details and records when you make your purchase. You want information such as the age of the unit, the age of the battery, the manufacturer of the battery, the number of charge cycles that have happened and any repairs made to the unit.

If you can't get this information, it's a good idea to have a mechanic assess the battery to make sure it is in good working order, then do a cleaning and an inspection as the base of your new maintenance schedule.

Checking Electrolyte Levels

The electrolyte levels in a forklift battery are a major part of forklift battery maintenance. Most batteries have a liquid electrolyte solution in the individual cells. The electrolyte solution is composed of water and sulfuric acid, and it helps to conduct electricity within the battery. Maintaining the correct electrolyte levels is crucial to the proper functioning of the battery.

To check the electrolyte levels in an electric forklift battery, you will need to remove the cell caps and visually inspect the level of the electrolyte solution in each cell. It is important to keep the electrolyte levels at the proper level to ensure the battery operates correctly. If the levels are too low, the battery may not be able to hold a charge and may suffer from decreased performance. On the other hand, if the levels are too high, the battery may be at risk of leaking or even exploding.

To maintain the correct electrolyte levels, you will need to periodically check the levels and top them up as needed. This can typically be done by adding distilled water to the cells. Be sure to use only distilled water, as tap water can contain impurities that can interfere with the performance of the battery.

Cleaning the Battery

Cleaning an electric forklift battery involves removing any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the surface of the battery. This is an important part of maintaining the battery and ensuring that it operates efficiently. Here are the steps involved in cleaning an electric forklift battery:

Gather the necessary materials. You will need a solution of water and baking soda, as well as protective gear such as gloves and goggles.

Prepare the cleaning solution. Use the baking soda and water to create a slightly abrasive paste. The paste should be thick enough to stick to the surface of the battery but not so thick that it is difficult to spread.

Apply the cleaning solution to the battery. Use a soft cloth or brush to gently scrub the surface of the battery, taking care not to damage the cells. Be sure to pay particular attention to any areas that may have accumulated dirt or debris.

Rinse the battery. Once you have finished scrubbing the battery, use a clean cloth and a little water to rinse away the cleaning solution. Be sure to remove all of the solution to prevent it from drying on the surface of the battery.

Dry the battery. Use a clean cloth to carefully dry the surface of the unit. Be sure to remove any excess water to prevent it from dripping into the cells.

This light cleaning routine should be a weekly aspect of your forklift battery maintenance to prevent buildup from accumulating. It's a good idea to create a log or checklist so your staff can write down when they've cleaned a particular unit for accurate record-keeping and scheduling.

Inspecting Battery Components

Your maintenance plan should also have a schedule for inspections. Regularly checking the status of the different battery components helps you identify problems ahead of time and plan out repairs rather than just reacting to sudden failures.

The connectors are a good place to start your examination. These are the points where the cables attach to the battery. To inspect the connectors, visually check the components for any signs of damage or wear. Make sure the connectors are secure and not loose or frayed. If any are not working properly, replace them. It's much cheaper to get connectors repaired than to fix damage to the battery caused by faulty parts.

The cables of the battery also need to be in good working order. Look for frayed or broken wires. You should also check that none of the wiring has corroded. Cables are flexible and can end up folding into spaces where they shouldn't be, so make sure that they are properly aligned and not touching a part of the engine that could melt or warp the wire or casing.


Preventing issues before they happen is an important part of electric forklift battery maintenance, and following good charging habits are a good way to achieve this. The ability to charge a forklift and reduce fuel costs are big advantages of owning an electric model, but there are guidelines to keep in mind to ensure efficiency.

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for charging the battery. It is critical to charge the battery at the correct rate and for the appropriate amount of time to avoid damaging it. Overcharging or undercharging the battery can cause damage and shorten its lifespan. You should also be sure to use the charger that the manufacturer recommends for your specific battery. Using the wrong charger could cause damage to the battery or the charging system.

Plan inspections of the charging system on a regular basis. Visual inspections of the charger and the connections between the charger and the battery ensure that everything is in good working order. Look for any signs of damage or wear, and replace any worn or damaged components as needed.

Follow proper safety procedures when charging the battery. Make sure to adhere to all standard safety guidelines, such as using the correct charger and wearing protective gear, as well as following any other recommendations provided by the manufacturer.

Using Proper Parts

Most forklift batteries will need some type of repair eventually. When these incidents come up, get the right parts for your unit so you can fix it confidently. Keep a record of which type of cables, connectors and caps your battery needs to make it easier to order the right ones. If possible, get some spares when you buy the battery or forklift and keep the spare parts onsite for quick repairs.

If you try to substitute parts that aren't meant for your battery, you run the risk of shortening the battery's lifespan. You could also damage the circuitry in the forklift, creating a bigger headache for yourself or rendering your forklift unusable.

Each of the steps in the forklift battery maintenance process works together to keep your forklift running as it should at all times. You can do several of these maintenance activities at the same time, such as your visual inspections. You can also assign different tasks to different days to make sure there is sufficient time to get everything done. Either way, put rules in place to make sure maintenance is done when it should be.

Invest in Forklift Battery Maintenance To Save Time and Money

When you get an electric forklift, you are investing in your company with the hope of getting more work done and seeing bigger returns. To protect your new equipment, you should invest as much effort in forklift battery maintenance. Having the confidence that your forklift will start up every morning and last the whole day when you need it is worth the work to plan out maintenance needs and commit to a schedule. If you're ready to find the next forklift for your business, get a quote from Forklift Inventory.

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