Forklift Tires: Choosing the Right Type & When to Replace
In most applications, forklift tires that are simply “black and round” won’t do the job. You need a special compound, profile or size to provide satisfactory tire life. What should you consider when selecting tires? The following factors should be taken into account:
Forklift Tire Selection Factors
- Manufacturer specifications
- Load and load frequency
- Number of shifts and trips
- Length of the run and travel speed
- Capacity and class of forklifts used
- Surface conditions and turning area
- Type and weight of materials moved
- Housekeeping issues, such as non-marking or black compounds
A competent evaluation of the above factors through an in-plant survey will determine the optimum combination of compound, profile and size for each specific application. The survey can be performed by a forklift tire company representative or the tire expert at your local MCFA dealer.Your application is the primary consideration when choosing between cushion or pneumatic tire counter balanced forklifts. Here's a brief profile of cushion and pneumatic tire types:
Cushion Forklift Tires
Cushion-tire trucks are designed for use with cushion tire forklifts only on concrete or asphalt surfaces. Most commonly, they are specified for indoor work in manufacturing facilities, warehouses and distribution centers. Cushion-tire forklifts are smaller than comparable capacity pneumatic models so they usually cost less. That makes their resale value lower, too.
Pneumatic Forklift Tires
Pneumatic tire forklifts can go indoors and out on improved surfaces. This would include blacktop and hard-packed stones or dirt, but not rough terrains like a plowed field or a severely potholed lot. The trucks have a larger frame and their initial price is higher than a comparable cushion-tire model. When it comes to resale, however, pneumatics have a higher value. One reason is their surface versatility, given enough maneuvering space.
Cushion tire and pneumatic tire forklifts have different frames, so you cannot simply change from cushion to pneumatic tires if your application changes. You can, however, change to a different tire style -- from smooth press-ons to traction, grooved or wide-track tires, or from a press-on tire to solid resilient tires. If you'd like to know more about forklift tire options, give your local dealer a call.
Tire Tread or Profile Style
Some general rules of thumb apply to forklift tire tread or profile style. You can get:
Smooth tires for dry indoor applications and all steer axles
Traction tires for general-purpose use in a wide variety of applications
Grooved tires for larger-capacity trucks where loads and operating conditions are extreme
Wide-track traction tires designed for all-season indoor-outdoor use.
Following tire selection and professional installation, the major factors that determine tire performance are consistency of manufacture and quality and consistency of material. In other words, it pays to buy quality tires.
When to Replace Forklift Tires?
Using improper tires that need to be replaced can lead to several adverse conditions for your forklifts and your bottom line:
The loss of load capacity will cause accelerated wear and overheating.
Operators will notice lower speeds and reduced ride comfort.
The forklift will have lower ground clearance and a reduced lifting height.
Maintenance costs can increase.
While you should follow the forklift tire operator’s manual provided by your forklift tire manufacturer on wear limits and the proper time to change your forklift tires, there are some common signs that indicate that it’s time to get new forklift tires.
Wear Indicator Bar
Many forklift tires come with a wear indicator bar molded into the tire’s sidewall. As the rubber tread wears out, the wear indicator bar will become visible, indicating that your forklift tires need to be replaced.
Most tires have the manufacturer’s name molded into the sidewall. As a general rule, when the tire wears to the top of the nameplate, it should be replaced.
Deformities of the Tire
Any unusual appearances of your tire may indicate that they need to be replaced. This can include:
Tearing or Chunking – If pieces of your forklift tire are falling off, or if any parts are tearing.
Splits or Cracks – If radial cracks or splits start to appear on the sidewall.
Non-round spots – If any flat spots appear on your tire.
For additional information and guidance on choosing the ideal forklift tire type for your application, contact your local Cat lift truck, Mitsubishi, or Jungheinrich forklift truck dealer today.
- Choosing the Right Forklift Tires
- Forklift Safety Rules of the Road
- Operating Forklifts on Inclines, Ramps, and Grades