Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

How to change hydraulic oil in a forklift?

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Forklift Maintenace
Filed under: Forklifts

Hydraulic oil is a critical component of all forklifts, a unit’s hydraulic systems are responsible for both its lifting and steering capabilities.

Carefully monitoring the condition of and changing a forklifts hydraulic fluid when necessary is a key part of responsible forklift ownership, in this post we examine:

  • What is forklift hydraulic oil and why is it important
  • How often oil changes should be completed
  • A brief step by step guide on how to complete an oil change

What is forklift hydraulic oil and why is it important?

Hydraulic oil’s main function is to provide energy transmission, through a forklift’s hydraulic system the oil is pressurised, and a control valve dictates where it flows to power the engine and other systems such as the tynes.

Pressurised oil in the unit’s hydraulic system allows operators to raise and lower the tynes allowing the forklift to lift loads.

Having insufficient levels of hydraulic oil may decrease a forklift’s lifting and steering capabilities reducing its overall performance and efficiencies whilst also impacting the condition of other forklift components and systems.

Some other reasons why you may need to complete a hydraulic oil change may include:

  • If abnormal noises are coming from your forklift
  • A high hydraulic fluid temperature (above 180 degrees) is detected
  • The forklift is operating excessively slow particularly hydraulic functions and systems
Valvoline Ultramax Hydraulic Oil

How often should forklift hydraulic oil be changed?

Most forklift manufacturers recommend hydraulic oil be replaced every 1,000 hours of forklift operation.

We recommend you consult your forklift manual to confirm the manufacturer recommended replacement interval.

To monitor oil levels properly we also recommend operator check hydraulic oil levels daily as part of their pre-start checklists, this enables them to top up or change the oil before they begin operations and cause any damage by running the hydraulic systems with insufficient oil levels.

Who can complete a hydraulic oil change?

Changing a forklifts hydraulic oil is relatively simple and can often be completed by an in-house mechanic if available.

If no mechanic is available, we recommend the oil change is completed by a professionally certified forklift technician such as mobile service technicians.

Our highly trained and experienced service technicians are experts on all forklift makes and models and will be able to safely and efficiently complete hydraulic oil changes as part of general forklift servicing and maintenance ensuring your forklifts hydraulic systems are running in optimal condition at all times.

Steps to perform a forklift hydraulic oil change

  1. Ensure your forklift is parked on level ground
  2. Ensure the tynes are completely lowered to the ground
  3. Ensure the park brake is fully applied and turn off the ignition
  4. Open the hood and find the units hydraulic oil reservoir in the engine bay
  5. Double check the capacity of your forklifts hydraulic oil reservoir via the manual or with the manufacturer
  6. Place a container with a large enough capacity to hold the full contents of the oil reservoir under the drain plug at the bottom of reservoir
  7. Remove the drain plug and drain all the old hydraulic oil
  8. Whilst the tank is empty inspect its condition and for any foreign matter or fungus build-up. Clean the tank if necessary.
  9. Do not forget to re-install the drain plug
  10. Remove the vented cap and add oil to the fill tube. Pump hydraulic oil into the reservoir
  11. Constantly check the gauge as you are filling so as not to overfill. Once the fluid level reaches the max line stop pumping
  12. Slowly remove the pump nozzle and clean up any spills or residual oil
  13. Install a new vented cap, tighten, and close the lid
  14. Close the engine bay
  15. Start-up the forklift and test that all hydraulic functions are working correctly
Changing forklift hydraulic oil 1

This post has shown how and why maintaining the condition and levels of hydraulic fluid in your forklift is imperative to ensure not only that your unit is functioning optimally but also ensuring it maximum operational life.

For customers unable to perform their own oil changes as part of self-maintenance Adaptalift’s service department are able to organise one of highly skilled, experienced mobile technicians to attend on-site to complete quick and efficient changes with minimal disruption to operations.

Contact our service department on 13 22 54 to book your next oil change or service.