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Understanding Forklift Tires

Forklift tires come in three basic types.

  1. Solid
  2. Pneumatic
  3. Semi-pneumatic

There are many varieties of the above mentioned types. They can be made of different compounds. Many different sizes and tread patterns are available to meet the needs of different equipment and environments.

Solid Tires are molded onto steel rings of varying widths and diameters. They require a specially equipped press to mount them on your wheel. They can be made out of differing materials to best meet the diverse needs of the material handling industry. Rubber, synthetics and polyurethane are three common examples.

Pneumatic tires are filled with air and commonly used on outdoor and rough terrain fork lifts. They have the benefit of added traction and flotation on semi hard surfaces such as gravel lumber yards. They also provide some cushioning of rough terrain which both adds to the operators comfort and helps prevent damage to the running gear of your forklift. Two major drawbacks to this type of tire are the possibility of flats and unstable loads.

To solve the problem of constant flats many operations resort to having their pneumatic tires filled with foam. The added benefit is increased safety. The major drawback being that the entire wheel and tire must be discarded when the tread wears out.

Semi-pneumatic tires can help with eliminating flats and creating a more stable load though not as stable as solid molded tires.

Other tire types to consider:

Polyurethane tires

Polyurethane is characterized by their lightweight nature and theirhighresistance to chunking, or splitting when under load (when compared to rubber tires). In most cases polyurethane have about twice the life span of rubber tires and are best suited for light indoor applications such as warehouse work. Polyurethane tires will wear out quickly in an environment where they’re used heavily.

Non-Marking Forklift tires

Non-marking tires are made with one special purpose in mind – eliminating the possibility of leaving black marks on the ground. These tires are made with hydrated silicas and special additives to accomplish this task. These tires often have a short life span and often create static electricity. Thus, the forklift must have an anti-static strip.

forklift tires Intella Liftparts



When do I need to replace my tires?

Generally they need to be replaced when the tread is worn down to a point where they are no longer effective. On non-treaded tires a good rule of thumb is when they are worn to the top of the lettering on the side of the tire. If the tires become delaminated from the rim or cause a rough ride. Remember this is not only uncomfortable for your operator but the tires act as the only suspension your forklift has. Therefore running on worn out tires can cause serious damage to the steering and drive train of your forklift. Replacing tires when they are worn can save you money on the cost of unnecessary repairs.If you are thinking to replace your caterpillar forklift tires, call us at 616-796-6638.



What about tire chains?

If you have pneumatic or semi pneumatic tires you’re in luck. Tire chains are a great option for increased traction when needed. Whether it is snow, ice or rough terrain, chains can be installed to keep you going thru the roughest conditions. Just keep in mind that these are a temporary solution and not intended to be left on when conditions do not warrant. Purchasing a set of these chains to have ready when the need arises can be a save a lot of money and prevent dangerous situations. One wrecker bill to get your forklift un-stuck and you will wish you had a set on hand. Tire chains are not available for solid molded (AKA ‘cushion’) tires.



How do I choose the proper tire?

It depends on the environment that your operation presents. There are tread designs available for especially greasy situations. You can get compounds impregnated with walnut shells or steel wires to increase traction and durability. Smooth tires are good for stability, durability and traction on smooth clean surfaces but can be troublesome on wet or slippery surfaces. Traction type tires are required whenever a forklift is to be used outdoors. Synthetic and poly blends can increase durability but are generally harder and create a rougher ride. They also come at a premium price. They are worth the extra money in the right application. Non-marking tires are available to keep your floors from getting covered in black tire marks.



Getting the most out of your forklift tires

Keeping your tires in good working condition will increase your forklift’s productivity, reduce operator fatigue, and improve efficiency. There’s also the added benefit of a safer workplace.

It’s integral that you keep your tires in good condition, but how exactly do you go about doing that? It all begins with the operator and their knowledge of how to properly care for forklift tires. The environment and the tire type also play a significant role in how it all works.

Operator education

What operators shouldn’t do:

  • Run over debris
  • Spin the tires
  • Overload the vehicle
  • Drive at excessive speeds
  • Turn aggressively around corners
  • Quickly start or stop the machine



Air pressure

When it comes to pneumatic tires, you should check the air pressure before operating the forklift. At a minimum, you should at least check the air pressure at least once a day. Generally, the recommended PSI can be found on the sidewall of the tire.

Regularly checking tire pressure is vital because air pressure often changes when temperatures increase or decrease. Whereas lower temperatures decrease air pressure, high temperatures increase air pressure. Keep in mind that this is a concern you should be worried about all year long and not just during certain seasons.

What’s the importance of air pressure?

Tires that are under-inflated often lead to poor traction which can cause an accident. On the other hand over inflated tires can lead to a blowout which couldknock the forklift out of commission which means loss of profits until it’s re-commissioned once more. Taking the time to check air pressure is a quick and painless way to avoid potentially dangerous situations in the future.



Managing forklift tires in the winter

Winter is always a challenging time when it comes to operating a forklift outdoors. Snow and ice lead to slippery conditions which can greatly increase the chances of an accident occurring. To ensure you’re operating your forklift safely in the winter here’s a quick checklist to keep you safe:

  • Use forklift tire chains
  • Check your tread
  • Spread a sand-salt mix (to improve tread)
  • Apply forklift tire studs

Forklift tires are an integral part of your forklift. The safe operation of your forklift depends on properly maintained tires.

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