Forklifts are the backbone of any warehouse and their safety is paramount to your drivers and employees. There are several ways to ensure the your forklifts are in proper working order and while regular maintenance is key, so is the maintenance of their tires. Since forklifts usually have no suspension, the tires take all of the weight and stress from the loads.
There are different types of forklift tires, but they all follow the same simple rule for replacement: when there has been two inches of wear, i.e. when the original diameter of the tire has decreased by two inches, it is time to replace them. Pneumatic tires, for outdoor and rugged use, follow this rule for the most part, but you can also pay attention to the wear on the treads. Like a basic car tire, when the tread runs lower a replacement should be in order. Some reasons for more marked decline in a tire’s age can be the over or under inflation of a tire or a misalignment of the tires. These can lead to added stress on one or more tires that causes them to wear unevenly and lead to a replacement being in order before scheduled maintenance. Cracks, cuts, imbedded debris, and other various job site litter can also cause problems and defects in the tires.
With cushion tires, the two inch rule is an easy benchmark to follow especially since the added stress on the tires can be upwards of 18%. But there are also lots of smaller things that can add to the wear that should be checked on periodically such as debris, tearing, flat spots, and any other wear on the tire that can lead to malfunction.
When you are changing a forklift’s tires there are some simple precautions to follow in order to ensure that it is done safely and properly so that you are able to avoid unnecessary wear or replacements.
A forklift jack is required to lift the forklift up enough to replace the tires. Do not use a car jack as it is not rated to lift such a massive load as a forklift, and since the forklift jack is specially designed to lift a forklift in the safest way, it will ensure your or your employees safety. Depending on the tire you are changing, place the forklift jack in the front or the back of the forklift to achieve optimal lift.
If you are using cushioned forklift tires, simply pull the old tire off and replace it with a new one. If you are using pneumatic tires, you will need to take the entire wheel off using an impact wrench, much like the pit crew of a race car. Be sure to put the nuts back on in a star shaped patter to ensure proper alignment of the wheel to the forklift and to avoid over or under tightening the nuts.
Lastly, clean up the floor of your warehouse or work yard to be certain that there is no debris that can rupture or prematurely wear out your new tires. Fixing a tire that you have just replaced is not only a waste of money, but it is also frustrating to redo a properly done job.