Preparing Forklift Truck for Winter Conditions

We are approaching the busiest time of the year for most warehouses and businesses with Christmas around the corner and the sales period to follow into January. It is vital to keep the goods flowing at this critical time and the breakdown of the forklift truck would seriously impact deliveries. Therefore, in this article we look at steps you could take to prepare your forklift truck for winter and adverse weather conditions.

Here are steps to take to ensure your forklift truck is running well in winter:


The forklift truck should be maintained all year round but it is particularly important as winter approaches. Bad weather conditions will impact its performance and therefore ensure that the forklift truck is in prime condition and has had the Thorough Examination as required by law.

Gritting the Operating Areas

It is vital that you keep an eye out for weather conditions. If snow or frost is forecast, spread sand and salt in operating areas to prevent surfaces from freezing and to increase traction. Ensure that you have sufficient stock of grit for the winter. Pay particular attention to high risk areas such as entrances, slopes and pathways

 Forklift Truck Tyres

Checking your forklift truck tyres before every shift is very important. Any damage should be addressed and recorded. Ensure the tyres are at correct pressure and has good level of tread. Using snow chains mounted on the tyres would give the forklift truck better grip when there is snow and ice on the surface of the road.

Checking Fluid Levels

For diesel forklift trucks, add a correct amount of antifreeze to coolant system to stop it freezing and overheating the engine. If your forklift truck has a wiper system, ensure that the fluid has antifreeze added to it and is topped up. Check for leaks or damage to hoses and joints.

Check and top up the fuel/battery level if necessary before you start as you do not want to be stranded in snow and ice half way through your shift.


During the winter, the daylight hours are short and hence having good lighting will help. Check all the bulbs before the shift and replace ones that are not working or showing signs of wear.

You should consider replacing halogen lights with LED as they are not affected by freezing conditions, lasts longer and often with better intensity of light.


Cold weather can cause numerous problems for forklift truck batteries. These include shortening the battery’s life span and reducing its capacity to charge.

All forklift truck batteries should be tested with a load tester before the cold weather arrives. Those that perform poorly will struggle and may need maintenance. Even if forklift trucks are only operated indoors, batteries can still be affected by the cold weather as generally warehouses are not heated very well and so the cold can still harm the battery. Generally, a simple solution is to keep the battery warm to maintain productivity and this can be done by a battery warmer or trickle charge it to avoid going flat.

Where appropriate, it is important that a batteries water level is maintained to ensure proper performance

Forklift Operator Safety

Ensure forklift operators wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions. These include hat, gloves, jacket, shoes/boots and high vis jackets for visibility.

If the cab has a heater, make sure that it is working.

Ensure that the forklift operator has appropriate training for the winter weather conditions and are aware of the high risk areas on site. Watch out for high winds as it will affect loading at height and reduce your speed when necessary.

Allow the forklift truck to warm up properly

Warming up the forklift truck correctly is critical for both the engine and the hydraulics.  Not allowing your forklift to warm up before operating it may result in increased wear and tear, as well as increased fuel consumption.

Ruth Wallace of Wallace Forklift Training London says “winter weather in UK can be taxing for forklift trucks and their operators. Do all you can to mitigate any risks of breakdown and accidents. When not using the forklift truck, park it indoors or in a dry area”.

Wallace School of Transport including Forklift Training in London is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 60 years’ experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.


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