Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Knowing when to replace your Forklift Tyres

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Forklift Maintenace

Forklifts play a significant role in ensuring businesses continue to operate smoothly. Therefore, it is important that each part of the forklift is maintained in order to reduce downtime and provide operators with a safe and effective machine. Tyre maintenance is commonly overlooked and it is often confusing when it comes to knowing when to replace forklift tyres. Today we will determine when a forklift’s tyres need to be replaced and the importance of knowing when to replace them, focusing particularly on cushion and pneumatic tyres.


Different Warning Signs

There are many different brands of forklift tyres, although nearly all of them come under either cushion or pneumatic. Both of these types of tyres have differing warning signs when it comes to knowing when they should be replaced. With cushion tyres, they are generally beyond their useful working life when thirty to thirty-five per cent of the rubber is worn. With pneumatic tyres, one must look at the tread wear; once the tread has gone you have reached the point where traction and stability are significantly compromised.

Warning Signs – Cushion Tyres

Although cushion tyres wear slowly, they are easily damaged. It is important to look out for the below warning signs:

• Simple wear: Check the amount of wear on your forklift tyre. It is common for cushion tyres to have 50% wear lines, once the top of the tyre meets the wear line this is when you should consider purchasing a new tyre.

• Chunking and Cracks: Pieces of rubber can fall off the forklift tyre because of litter debris or forklift misuse. This results in the tyre having huge chunks in the rubber and needing to be replaced.

• Flat Spots: This is caused by misalignment, tyre spinning or when the forklift comes to a sharp halt. Flat spots can be identified by looking for a part of the tyre that is balder than the rest.

• Tearing: A forklift tyre can be torn when it is exposed to sharp objects, which can result in imbalance and is extremely dangerous.

Warning Signs – Pneumatic Tyres

Pneumatic tyres differ from cushion tyres as they are primarily used for outdoor work. You will need to pay attention to the following:

• Inflation: If the tyre is under or over-inflated this will affect the stability of the forklift and accelerate wear, it can also affect the stopping power due to the lessening of the tyres traction.

• Cuts: If there are visible cord and/or frayed cord piles, it is important to replace the tyre. This is because cuts can result in sudden air loss and therefore, improper balance.

• Balding: Tyres will wear at different rates, therefore it is important to inspect the tyres for smooth centres and lug or tread on the outside.

• Simple wear: The 2-inch rule can be used as a useful benchmark, but this is not as straightforward in regards to knowing when to replace the tyre. This is because pneumatic tyres have a wider size variance to cushion tyres and are built for tougher environments.

Flat tyre

The Importance of knowing when to replace a Forklift Tyre

Tyres are essential in softening the ride for your employee and the equipment, the average forklift carries over 4300kgs on the drive tyres and approximately 590kgs on the steer tyres. Tyres that are worn or low can cause significant safety hazards. One of the reasons for this is because tyre wear does not happen evenly, which creates instability. Furthermore, a damaged tyre will create greater vibration, which results in driver fatigue. Other reasons include an increase in fuel and maintenance costs.


If tyres wear too far, performance and safety issues may arise, along with the risk of unnecessary damage to the machine, therefore, tyre maintenance is extremely important within the productivity of one’s business and it is important to know when to replace them.