Trading in or selling your used forklift – a guide for forklift purchasers

So you have a forklift. It’s not doing the job anymore. You want a new(er) forklift and you’ve done your homework, you know what you want. So what can you do with the old forklift? Read on for some great advice on whether its time for  selling or trading in your old used forklift.

Having made the decision to obtain a new forklift, you now must choose what to do with your old one. There are several options here, and ultimately your choice will depend on your circumstances, but hopefully this will give you some good advice.

Option 1: Just keep it

If you business is growing, or the forklift is a critical piece of equipment, then simply keeping the old unit as a spare forklift or for occasional use may be a great choice. By keeping the forklift, you give yourself something to use should your new forklift ever be out of commission for any reason, or if you become extremely busy and need to run two forklifts for a time, it’s there for you. The downside to this approach is that your old forklift will continue to take up valuable space, and may become a liability. This also means you cannot obtain trade in credit for the forklift, if you are on a tight budget this may mean being forced to go with a lesser quality or specification than you desire.

Option 2: Trading in for a newer / bigger / better forklift

If you don’t have the space to keep it or you really don’t want it around any more, most forklift dealers (including us) will take trade in forklifts upon request. Many people are disappointed to discover that on trade in the forklift isn’t worth what they thought it would be. This can be for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:

    • The forklift is in very poor condition.
      When you use something for years it’s often hard to realise that it is really past it’s used by date. We have accepted trade in forklifts that have some or all of the following (and were still being used daily up to the selling point); Torn or damaged seats, no reverse buzzer or light, broken or bent hydraulic levers, excessively worn or bald tyres, tynes with excessive wear, major oil leaks.
      With a list like this it’s easy to see that some forklifts aren’t worth paying much or anything for.
    • The forklift is not a desired model
      Many types of forklifts are not produced any more. The common reason for this is lack of demand, or improvements in technology. Forklifts with a low lifting capacity, large, vision impairing centre rams, very narrow lifting carriages or other types of obsolete features or equipment will mean a very low trade value, mainly because the only way to sell such equipment is for a very low price.
    • The forklift you are purchasing is not very expensive.
      Just like when you buy a car, the trade price you will receive is in relation to the unit you are purchasing. The more expensive the new forklift, the more margin the selling agent will have to work with when estimating the discount off the new purchase price. Unless you are specifically trading down to a smaller, less expensive unit, the salesperson will be unlikely to negotiate a straight swap.
    • The forklift is old, or has very high hours

Hours are the equivalent of an odometer or mileage reading for a forklift, and very high hours, or very old (pre 1980) forklifts, are simply not worth very much on resale. In good working order, they are certainly worth something, however that something may not be as much as you would like.

Having said all that, there are a number of positives to this way of selling. All transport is taken care of for instance, and your unit will usually be picked up on the same day that the new forklift is dropped off. You don’t have to worry about placing ads, trying to find a buyer etc. Just like trading in a car, you sacrifice a little trade in value for a lot less hassle.

Option 3: Sell your used forklift privately

Since the advent of the internet and other similar marketplaces, this has become a more popular option. While worth considering, most sellers simply trade in their unwanted unit. This is mainly so they don’t have to worry if the forklift doesn’t sell, how much to charge for it, how to get it into a sellable condition, making sure the forklift is OH & S compliant, arranging transport and so on. It also means that at the time of making a capital purchase (your new forklift), your total cost and impact on your cash-flow is reduced, helping the bottom line of your business. If you do go with this route, ensure that you practice proper online selling practices, and be aware that your old forklift may not sell for several weeks or months, depending on model and price.

Selling your unwanted used forklift – Pros & Cons
Pros Cons
Keeping your old forklift
  • Lets you keep a spare forklift for high use times
  • Keeps a backup in case of breakdown or service time
  • Allows you to further amortise your original purchase
  • Takes up extra space in your warehouse/factory
  • Increased maintenance costs for a seldom used item
  • Increases upfront cost for new forklift purchase
Trading-in your old forklift at time of purchase
  • Reduces upfront cost of new forklift purchase
  • Simple and easy changeover taken care of by forklift company
  • Zero downtime – pickup and drop off at the same time
  • Old forklift may be worth less on trade in than outright sale
  • Forklift selling agent may refuse to accept your forklift or give minimum value if in poor condition
  • Denies you ability to keep your old forklift around as a spare
Selling your old forklift privately
  • Will possibly allow you to get a higher price for your forklift
  • Allows you to keep your existing unit short term in case of any issues with your new forklift
  • May need to wait weeks or months before finding a buyer
  • In order to sell you may need to spend time and money fixing your forklift to get it into a good condition
  • Forklift will take up space in factory/workshop while waiting to sell

I hope that this article has helped you to decide what to do with your old secondhand forklift. As always, please use this information as a guide only and let us know if we can help you in any way.

The Secondhand Forklifts team