Forklift operators are taught during training that there are some signs they need to concern themselves with when using propane forklifts. There are engine issues that are simple to understand and issues with the forks that generally require a professional to repair. Knowing how to identify these simple problems can help make your workday easier. Most companies have you complete a checklist when you start your shift with a forklift, but smaller companies or companies with multiple users of the same forklift may not do this. This is where knowing how to identify these issues can help you.
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Turn the ignition key. If the vehicle does not start, check the fuel gauge. It may be empty. Have the tank filled by a qualified propane dispenser. Most companies will have one available; it is usually a supervisor. The fuel tank is attached by a hose and two clamps. Remove the hose and open both clamps. The tank can then be moved to the filling area.
Start the engine. If the engine is slow to respond, take the weather into account. Propane-powered forklifts need a certain amount of time to warm up in very cold conditions. Allow it to warm up for a few moments and the sluggishness will subside. This can be hastened if you can get it into a warm area.
If you turn the ignition and the vehicle will not start, have a qualified maintenance person check the air filter and the connection from the tank. The air filter may be dirty, causing an air mixing problem. Lines may have become loose or broken and need to be replaced. There may also be a problem with the main valve on the tank, in which case it would need to be replaced.
Start the forklift, then check the forks and their movement. The forks need to move smoothly and evenly up and down as well as left and right. If there is any jerking or moving out of time, contact a qualified maintenance person. This can be a few different problems. The hydraulic fluid may be low, which would lead to there not being enough pressure. This fluid is also affected by extreme cold and may need to warm up. There may also be damage to one of the lines to the lift cylinders, or the seals on the cylinders may be damaged.
Turn on the ignition. If after a short time the engine starts smoking or smelling funny, immediately shut off the engine and get away from the machine. Contact a trained professional and have the forklift examined. Smoking or strange odours could mean there is a leak in the engine compartment, which can be a very dangerous situation. This will require a trained mechanic to determine the true nature of the problem.
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