How to Check and Change Your Forklift Hydraulic Fluid

July 09, 2021

Forklift hydraulic fluid is needed in order for your machinery to function. Hydraulic systems are responsible for the forklift’s lifting and steering capabilities.

Changing your fluid is a necessary part of forklift ownership. Keep reading to find out when and how to perform a forklift hydraulic oil change.

Forklift Hydraulic Fluid

Warehouse forklift in a repair shop getting a hydraulic fluid change

Hydraulic systems use pressurized fluid to power the engine of a forklift. The pressure placed on just a small amount of fluid can create a massive amount of force.

Forklift hydraulic fluid, also known as forklift hydraulic oil, flows through a pump. A control valve dictates where the fluid moves.

Hydraulic fluid is responsible for raising the machine’s forks off of the ground. Without a functioning hydraulic system, your forklift will not be able to lift and move pallets. Maintaining your forklift hydraulic oil levels is critical to the functionality of these systems.

There are a variety of forklift hydraulic oil types. Each has a different viscosity grade. The grade you choose needs to match the operating temperature range of the hydraulic system being used. Consider your starting viscosity, maximum expected operating temperature, and permissible viscosity range when choosing forklift hydraulic oil viscosity.

Forklift Hydraulic Oil Change

Most manufacturers suggest performing a forklift hydraulic oil change every 1,000 hours of operation. Before you do this, you’ll want to check your fluid levels.

First, ensure that your forklift is parked somewhere level. Lower the forks to the ground and set the parking brake.

Remove the cap from the forklift hydraulic fluid reservoir. Use a dipstick to check the fluid level. If it is low, you’ll need to perform a forklift hydraulic oil change.

For this, you’ll need to know what kind of fluid to use. There are multiple forklift hydraulic oil types, including water-based fluids, petroleum-based fluids, and synthetic fluids. To determine which type you need, consult your forklift manual.

Here are the steps for performing a forklift hydraulic oil change:

  1. Park your forklift on level ground.

  2. Lower the forks to the ground.

  3. Set the parking brake and turn the ignition off.

  4. Open the hood and find the forklift hydraulic fluid reservoir.

  5. Remove the vented cap and add oil to the fill tube. Pump forklift hydraulic oil into the reservoir.

  6. Keep an eye on the gauge as you fill. Once the forklift hydraulic fluid reaches the max line, stop pumping.

  7. Slowly remove the pump’s nozzle and clean up any spills.

  8. Put on a new vented cap. Tighten it and close the lid.

That’s it! Remember that you’ll need to do this every 1,000 hours of operation. You may also need a forklift hydraulic oil change if you notice abnormal noises, a high fluid temperature (above 180 degrees), or excessively slow operation.

Lift truck with the hood opened and engine exposed

Taking Care of Your Forklift Equipment

A forklift hydraulic fluid change isn’t the only maintenance you’ll need to perform on your equipment. Routine servicing is crucial to keeping your forklift in good shape.

If you’re constantly repairing your equipment, it might be time for an upgrade. Forklift Inventory can help you find the best deal on high-quality equipment for sale in your area.

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