When To Repair vs. Replace a Forklift Battery

During a tough day at work, the last thing you want is for your forklift to stop working. However, if your forklift won’t turn on or runs for less than eight hours per charge, you need to decide whether to repair or replace the battery.

You can restore a forklift battery if it’s newer, but anything five years or older might need a replacement. Here is how to know when to repair vs. replace a forklift battery.

Check for Low Voltage Output

When your forklift battery is giving you problems, it’s time to break out the voltmeter. Take a look at each of the battery’s cells and make sure they are emitting proper voltage.

Your reading will be the most accurate when the battery is under load, and all you have to do is tile the mast against the stop. Each cell that fails or significantly worsens under load needs to be resealed or replaced.

Otherwise, if the entire battery is failing, it’s best to replace the whole thing. However, this is the most expensive route to take, and it might not address underlying problems.

Look at the Connectors and Cables

Observe the battery cables and connectors if your forklift fails to start up immediately. It’s possible that something came loose on the job that you need to plug back in, or someone wore out the cable.

Whatever the case may be, the easiest fix for battery problems is to connect the cables properly. If there is a loose cable, try tightening it, then restart the machine.

Be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of corrosion at the cable’s point of contact. Then, clean the battery and contact points before connecting the cables. If the connector still won’t fit after exhausting your options, it’s time to start looking at new forklift batteries.

Use a Hydrometer To Monitor Specific Gravity

After trying everything else, look at the battery’s specific gravity and see if it’s too low. Each cell should have a visible electrolyte. Then, make sure someone has fully charged the battery since its last watering before you test it with the hydrometer. A typical cell should read anywhere between 1.15 to 1.29, and if it’s outside that range, you need to replace the battery.

Overall, the battery is the most integral component of your forklift, so you don’t want to damage it. Now that you know when to repair vs. replace a forklift battery, you can make the right decision the next time your forklift starts acting up.