Each day your Kentuckiana warehouse uses your forklift, you add a little bit more wear and tear on your lift truck’s forks. Over time the forks will wear down to the point where they should no longer carry any more loads. Forks left on too long can bend or break, leaving you with damaged merchandise, damage to your equipment or a hurt operator. To ensure your operation runs as safely as possible, you need to use the best practices for when and how you should replace your forklift forks.


OSHA requires a daily inspection of forklifts, including forks. If your lift truck is used on a 24-hour schedule, then you should be inspecting the forks after every shift. Forks are also thoroughly looked over when you have a scheduled maintenance plan with YKI.

Inspections should concentrate on bends, cracks or any other wear and tear that would threaten the integrity of the forks. Any accidents or improper load management from operators can impact the structure and thickness of your forks. Daily use also plays a big role in the integrity of your lift truck’s forks. Normal wear and tear over time can lead to a 10% loss of thickness. This 10% loss means they can no longer support the weight they were designed for and will have to be replaced.

Key things you should specifically look at are:

  • Blade and shank angle: The angle your forks should never exceed 93°. If you see the shank or blade sagging, or are bent, they must be replaced immediately. Never attempt to bend them back yourself, as this will only make the forks weaker.
  • Cracks and tip damage: Watch out for even small cracks in the blade, especially in the heel and weld areas. It doesn’t take long for those small cracks to become bigger cracks and eventually snap the fork, causing damage to the forklift and its load. The tips of your forks should be able to slide in and out of pallets without a problem, and each tip should rest approximately at the same height.
  • Fork Thickness: Metal on the forks will wear down even with routine use. You can use a fork arm wear caliper to check the thickness. When your forks are at 90% of their original thickness, they are then considered worn beyond their original carrying capacity and need to be replaced. Failing to do so can lead to larger damage to your forks, increasing the risk of damage to your equipment and load.
  • Hooks and positioning locks: Wear and tear can also happen to the hooks and locks. Use calipers to make sure your forklift’s hooks aren’t bent or cracked. Positioning locks should always be tested that they can open and close without problems.


The best bet is to have a certified forklift technician replace your forks. This makes sure that they are assembled and calibrated properly. If you decide on changing them yourself, always follow the precise instructions in your manufacturer’s owner’s manual. Different forklift models sometimes have different ways to change the forks. If installed incorrectly, you may end up damaging your forklift.

Some warehouse managers will also take the opportunity to see if they need to upgrade to the right forks. Since the forks are already going to be replaced, this may be the best time to get thicker forks for an increased load capacity. You also may want to add an attachment that will help you perform a specialized task. Be mindful that any changes that result in different load capacity or attachments must be approved by the manufacturer and a new data plate must be ordered to reflect this change.


If you need help to replace your worn forklift forks, need to order replacement forks or need help determining what forks are right for your operation – let the experts at Yale Kentuckiana help! Our certified technicians can service your lift trucks and our professional parts team can help determine what forks work best for your operation. Call us at (888)269-3198 today and we’ll make sure your forklifts are running well with just the right forks. You can also click here to fill out a parts request form online.