Forklift Transmission Fluid: Running Safely with Routine Servicing

Few things are more important than a well-running machine and to keep it moving along, changing the transmission fluid is a must. Forklifts are no different than cars in that case, or anything else that has a transmission. Skipping out on a proper maintenance servicing schedule can be a costly thing. Leading to a cascade of other problems that are far more pricey than taking the time to change a forklift’s transmission fluid.

Let’s go over what old transmission fluid or lack of changing can do to a forklift, the warning signs, and how many hours before you should change the transmission fluid, as well as servicing some other things in the forklift. 

What Could Go Wrong with Waiting?

Just to put things in perspective, let’s go over some of the things that can happen if you don’t service your forklift’s transmission fluid routinely.

1 Cuts the life of the transmission itself: Not changing the transmission fluid routinely will allow it to become a far less effective lubricant or disperse heat as well as it should. 

2 Damaging the transmission: With older transmission fluid and because it isn’t lubricated well, the machine will start wearing into the fluid itself. More quickly damaging the transmission and quickening its replacement. 

3 Improper shifting: When the transmission fluid gets old and starts to dissipate, it can lead to the transmission shifting improperly and stop to do so altogether.

Warning Signs

If you’re not sure how long it has been since the transmission fluid has been changed, some tell-tale signs will let you know how immediately the transmission fluid needs to be changed or if flushed completely.

One good warning sign is the color of the transmission itself. If it brings pink or mostly pink, the transmission fluid is new to fairly new. You’re in the clear. But, if it’s darker, murky, and especially if there are bits of metal in it, change the transmission fluid immediately. You may even want to flush it out to see what damage could have happened. The latter if you see metal in the fluid.

Without checking the fluid itself, another good warning sign is whining and clunking sounds. That often means the parts aren’t being lubricated properly and that your transmission fluid is old. The same goes for gears that make grinding noises.

Another sign, a very bad one is, a burning smell. It means your forklift’s transmission fluid is overheating. That can cause serious damage to your forklift. 

An easy sign to spot is leaking transmission fluid. A useful tip is to keep something underneath the forklift when parked and see if there are stains the next day. If there is, time to get the forklift serviced.

Mentioned earlier but, bears repeating. If the gear switching is slow to respond to not responding, that is a clear sign of a transmission fluid problem. Time to get it checked straight away before damaging the forklift. 

The clearest sign of changing the forklift’s transmission fluid is the light. When you see the temperature warning light go on, take the forklift to get serviced immediately. 

Hours of Servicing

When it comes to how many hours before a forklift must be serviced, OSHA has clear guidelines to help keep the machine running well and safely for a long time. Here are the OSHA recommended maintenance intervals:

  • oil change and filter
  • lubricate frame and all lube points
  • hydraulics
  • steering system
  • brakes
  • a fuel filter
  • an air filter

After 250 hours, a forklift should be serviced in the following areas:

  • Hydraulic oil and filter
  • Lube in drive hubs
  • brake fluid
  • oil and filter in transmission as well as converter

Please note that electric forklifts have different maintenance schedules and that the hours are defined as the moment the ignition is turned to operate the forklift. If it’s on, it counts.

Service your Forklift

Replacing a forklift or the parts of one is exceedingly expensive. Getting your forklift serviced by professionals is considerably less costly and can ensure the safe operation of your machine for years. 

Pay attention to what your forklift needs, the warning signs, and spend a little time keeping your forklift working at its highest function. You’ll save much more time and money than running it into the ground.