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What Is the Average Lifespan of a Forklift?

Published on January 24, 2024

"How long should I expect my forklift to last?” This should be one of the first questions you ask your friendly Bobcat forklift dealer when planning to make your purchase. Forklifts are expensive, and you want to make sure your investment will stand the test of time.

These are some of the typical questions for the lifespan of a forklift. 

  • What is the average lifespan of an Electric Forklift?  
  • Do diesel forklifts break down faster than their gas-powered reach truck counterparts?  
  • How do regular service and maintenance come into play if I want to maximize my ROI?  

We will take a closer look at the average lifespan of a forklift and show how Bobcat stacks up compared to our competitors. 

How Do I Determine the Age of My Forklift?

A forklift’s lifespan is measured in hours of use, not years or miles driven. We measure forklift lifespans in hours because different businesses utilize their machines at different rates. 

Let’s think of it this way if you were looking to purchase a used forklift from a forklift warehouse dealer, which would you rather buy: 

  1. A 1-year-old forklift from a significant warehouse company that ran its forklift 8 hours per day, seven days per week. (Approximately 2,912 hours total) OR 
  2. A forklift from a small business that utilized their forklift 12 hours per month for five years. (720 hours total) 

This is why we look at our machinery in terms of hours instead of actual physical age.

Let’s Set Some Benchmarks: What Is Average Forklift Use?

Before we can determine the lifespan of forklifts, we must determine what is considered “an average amount of use” for these trucks. 

Most forklifts run approximately 1,000 hours per year or more. Higher quality forklifts can comfortably run 2,000 hours per year. Keep in mind that this estimation also includes regular maintenance on your equipment as well. 

So How Long Should I Expect My Forklift to Last? 

Bobcat's forklifts can easily surpass 15,000+ hours even when put under extreme stress. At an average of 1,500 hours per year, that is a comfortable average of 10 years! When you pair that with the fact that our forklifts carry some of the best prices on the market, you couldn’t expect a better ROI from any other forklifts out there! 

Remember that these hours are all rules of thumb. Some forklifts, when well maintained, may be in use for 20 or more years and thousands of hours. The real question when it comes to your forklifts’ lifespan is this: at what point will the cost of repairs surpass the cost of maintaining my equipment? Because when you reach the economic lifespan of your forklift, that is the time to let the workhorse retire.