Forklifts: Should you Buy or Lease

Published: 01st March 2010
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Get the right forklift truck at the right price

A company that needs one or more forklifts has several options. Whether they need a forklift truck for day-to-day operations or just occasionally, a company can opt to do one of four things:

  • Buy new
  • Buy used or reconditioned
  • Rent for a short period of time
  • Lease long-term

The first step in deciding the best course of action, and it will be different for each company, is to decide how the forklift will be used and how often it will be used.

Buying new forklifts

A forklift that's going to be used on a day-to-day basis for more than a few hours a day is going to rack up a considerable number of hours of use in a short period of time. A used forklift already has several hours of use. That means the parts and the engine have experienced a great deal of wear and tear already. So a forklift that going to be used more than occasionally or for more than a few hours at a time, if it's been used already, is going to break down sooner and more often than a new forklift.

Even a reconditioned forklift that's been brought back to almost factory new condition is a higher risk of breakdown. The benefit to this purchase is that there will be a warranty, but the cost is going to be much closer to that of a new piece of equipment.

If the forklift is going to be used only a limited number of hours per day or not even every day but only occasionally, a used forklift can be a good choice. A used piece of equipment can still cost several thousand dollars, so this is still an expensive option even though it's cheaper than buying new.

For a company that needs a new forklift for extended use but doesn't want to purchase one, there is the option of renting for a short period of time or leasing.

Forklift rental and leasing

Renting a lift truck for a day, week or even a month is an option for a company who needs one for a limited amount of time but doesn't anticipate an ongoing need. The longer one is rented for, the less expensive the per-day or per-week charge typically is. This is also a good option for the business that already owns forklift trucks but has an increased need for a brief period of time.

Leasing forklift trucks is an excellent option for a company that wants equipment that's kept in top shape but doesn't want to purchase and be responsible for the maintenance costs. Whether a company needs an electric forklift or diesel forklift, leasing is an attractive option. Even if the cost is close to the cost of a new or reconditioned forklift, the cost is controlled because there is no surprise repair cost or maintenance cost. The leasing company is responsible for those expenses. That makes leasing an easy option to budget for with no surprises, and the convenience of cost-free replacement if something does go wrong.

Cyndi Lundeberg is a writer and aspiring news broadcaster based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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