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Beginner's Guide to Pallet Jacks - How to Use, Types, & More

by Ion Rotaru 18 Jun 2023 0 Comments

Welcome to the ultimate guide to pallet jacks (A.K.A pallet trucks, pallet pumps, pump trucks, jiggers, pallet movers, pallet lifters). Whatever you call them, they're about as essential to a warehouse as anything else. Just as the heart pumps blood through the body, these machines keep goods flowing through the warehouse, distribution center, or retail store.

Whether you're a complete beginner or seasoned veteran, learning about pallet jacks will certainly make you better at your job. It'll make you more efficient, safer, and knowledgeable. In this article, we'll take a look at what a pallet jack is, how it works, what are the different types of pallet jacks, and more. Let's get started!

Article outline:

What is a Pallet Jack? Pallet Jack Price
How a Pallet Jack Works How to Repair a Pallet Jack & Maintenance Tips
Types of Pallet Jacks Pallet Jack Manufacturers
How to Operate a Pallet Jack Pallet Jack FAQs
Pallet Jack Safety Conclusion
Pallet Jack Accessories


What is a Pallet Jack?

A pallet jack is a tool used to lift and move pallets. Pallet jacks are the most basic form of a forklift and are intended to move heavy or light pallets within a warehouse.

They are designed to make the job of moving product easier and more efficient. They can be used in just about any situation where you need to move a heavy item from one place to another. They are commonly used in warehouses, but can also be found in large supermarkets and department stores.

What is a Pallet Jack? - Pallet Jack Guide

How a Pallet Jack Works

A pallet jack is simple in design, which makes it incredibly durable and easy to use. The way it works is on a simple principle of hydraulics and leverage. The main parts of it are the forks, the handle, the wheels, and the pump. Here's a breakdown of how those parts work together to make a pallet jack work:

The pallet jack forks slide into the openings of a pallet.

First, the operator lifts the pallet by pumping the handle of the jack. The handle is connected to a hydraulic pump which creates pressure within a small oil reservoir. As the handle is pumped, the pressure increases and this forces a piston in the jack to rise. The piston is connected to the forks, so as the piston rises, so do the forks, lifting the pallet off the ground.

Now that the pallet is lifted, the operator can easily move it around by pushing or pulling it.

Now to lower the pallet, all the operator has to do is release the pressure in the hydraulic system. They do this by pulling the lever or trigger on the handle, which opens the valve to release the hydraulic pressure. As the pressure is released, the piston lowers, and so do the forks.

Note: This section describes how a manual pallet jack works. There are also electric pallet jacks, which operate differently. Read our guide on electric pallet jacks to learn more about them.

How a Pallet Jack Works

Types of Pallet Jacks

There are several types of pallet jacks, each designed for different types of tasks. The most common types are:

  • Manual Pallet Jacks: These are the most common type of pallet jack. They are manually operated and are designed for moving light to medium weight loads.
  • Electric Pallet Jacks: These are powered by an electric motor, making them easier to use than manual models, especially for heavier loads.
    Related: Learn how Manual Jacks vs Electric Jacks compare.

Types of Pallet Jacks - Pallet Jack Guide

  • Rough Terrain Pallet Jacks: These are designed for use on uneven surfaces or for outdoor use. They have large, inflatable tires that can handle rough terrain.

Types of pallet jacks - rough terrain

There are also other variations of pallet jacks, such as rider electric pallet jacks, weighing scale jacks, low profile jacks, adjustable jacks, and more. Read our full article on the types of pallet jacks to learn about them.

How to Operate a Pallet Jack

Using a pallet jack is relatively straightforward. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Position the pallet jack: The forks of the jack should be completely inserted into the pallet. 
    (Pro tip: Sometimes depending on the pallet type, if you insert the forks all the way and try to pump it, the wheels of the pallet jack might get stuck on the pallet. If that's the case, just inserting the forks around 95% of the way instead of 100%.)
  2. Raise the pallet: Push the lever on the handle in the downward position. Now pump the handle to lift the pallet off the ground.
  3. Move the pallet: Pull or push the handle to move the pallet to the desired location.
  4. Lower the pallet: Pull the lever on the handle to slowly lower the pallet to the ground.

Here's a video on how to do it:




Pallet Jack Safety

Here are some important pallet jack safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Proper Training: Before operating a pallet jack, ensure you or your employees have received proper training. This includes understanding how the equipment works, how to maneuver it, and how to load and unload it safely.
  • Check Equipment Before Use: Always inspect the pallet jack before use. Check for any visible damage, ensure the wheels are in good condition, and that the hydraulic pump is working properly.
  • Load Correctly: Ensure the load is stable and evenly distributed on the pallet. Do not exceed the maximum load capacity of the pallet jack.
  • Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Watch out for other people, obstacles, and uneven surfaces.
  • Slow Down: Don't rush when operating a pallet jack. Move at a controlled, safe speed, especially when turning corners or maneuvering in tight spaces.
  • Avoid Inclines: Pallet jacks should be used on flat surfaces. They can quickly become unmanageable on inclines, even slight ones.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Wear steel toe boots with non-slip soles to prevent slips and falls.
  • Lower Loads Slowly: When lowering a load, do so slowly to prevent damage to the goods or the pallet jack.
  • Never Ride on a Pallet Jack: Pallet jacks are not designed to carry people. Never ride on them or allow others to do so.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when operating a pallet jack or any other type of heavy machinery.

Pallet Jack Accessories

There's a few must-have pallet jack accessories you need to know about. Let's take a look at what those are and what they do.

  • Pallet Jack Stopper: Also known as a pallet truck chock, this is a safety accessory designed to securely hold a pallet jack in place when it's not in use. It prevents the pallet jack from rolling away, especially on inclined surfaces, reducing the risk of accidental damage or injury.
    Pallet Jack Stopper - Pallet Jack Accessories
  • Foot Guard / Toe Guard: This safety accessory is designed to protect the operator's feet while using the pallet jack. It acts as a shield between the wheels on the pallet jack and the operator's feet, reducing the risk of foot injuries in case of accidental roll-overs. And from experience, trust us, you don't want to feel the pain of a pallet jack wheel rolling over your toes.
    Pallet Jack Foot Guard Accesory - Pallet Jack Guide
  • Pallet Jack Caddies: These are handy attachments that help you store your tools, pens, paperwork, tape, and other small items.
    Pallet Jack Caddie Accessory - Pallet Jack Guide

Pallet Jack Price

The price of a pallet jack can vary greatly depending on the type, brand, and capacity. Manual pallet jacks can be found for as little as $300 and as much as $1000, while electric models normally start at $2000 and can go as high as $10000. It's important to consider your needs and budget before making a purchase.

How to Repair a Pallet Jack & Maintenance Tips

Like any piece of equipment, pallet jacks can break down and require repair. Common issues include hydraulic leaks, issues with the wheels, and problems with the handle. Most of these issues can be fixed with basic tools and replacement parts.

Here are some pallet jack maintenance tips to make sure your equipment stays in great shape:

  • Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your pallet jack for any visible signs of wear and tear or damage. If you notice any issues, address them immediately to prevent further damage.
  • Cleaning: Keep your pallet jack clean. Dirt, dust, and debris can interfere with its operation and cause premature wear. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the equipment, paying special attention to the wheels and the forks.
  • Lubrication: Regularly lubricate the moving parts of the pallet jack. This includes the wheels, the joints of the handle, and the lifting mechanism. Use a high-quality lubricant designed for heavy machinery.
  • Hydraulic Fluid Check: Check the hydraulic fluid level regularly. If the fluid level is low, the pallet jack may not lift properly. Use only the manufacturer-recommended hydraulic fluid to refill the system.
  • Regular Professional Service: While regular user maintenance is important, having your pallet jack professionally serviced at regular intervals can help identify and address issues that may not be visible to the untrained eye.
  • Replace Worn Out Parts: Over time, parts of your pallet jack may wear out and need to be replaced. This includes the wheels, the bearings, the seals in the hydraulic system, and the forks.

Remember, a well-maintained pallet jack not only lasts longer but also operates more safely and efficiently. Make pallet jack maintenance a regular part of your routine.

Pallet Jack Manufacturers

There are many manufacturers of pallet jacks, each offering a variety of models to suit different needs:

  • WarehouseWiz: Based in Canada, WarehouseWiz is a prominent manufacturer and supplier in the material handling industry. They offer a comprehensive range of products, from manual and electric pallet jacks to stackers, catering to a variety of warehouse needs. Known for their affordability and quality, WarehouseWiz is a go-to choice for many businesses seeking efficient warehouse solutions.
  • Crown Equipment Corporation: Crown is another manufacturer of material handling equipment, including pallet jacks. They offer a range of models, including hand pallet jacks, powered pallet jacks, and even rider pallet jacks.
  • Raymond Corporation: Raymond is another major player in the material handling industry. They offer a variety of pallet jacks, including standard, heavy-duty, and special application models.
  • Toyota Material Handling: Toyota is a well-known name in the automotive industry, but they also manufacture a range of material handling equipment. Their line of pallet jacks includes both manual and electric models.
  • Yale Materials Handling Corporation: Yale offers a comprehensive range of forklift trucks and other material handling equipment, including a variety of pallet jacks.

Remember that it's important to research and compare different models before making a purchase.

Pallet Jack FAQs

Let's take a look at some common questions that people have about pallet jacks.

Can anyone use a pallet jack?

Yes, anyone can use a pallet jack, but proper training is recommended to ensure safety and efficiency.

What can you not do with a pallet jack?

You should not use a pallet jack to lift people, and you should not exceed the maximum weight capacity of the jack.

What are the disadvantages of a pallet jack?

While pallet jacks are incredibly useful, they do have some disadvantages. They can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces, and they require physical effort to operate, especially manual models.

How much can one person move on a pallet jack?

The amount a person can move on a pallet jack depends on the capacity of the jack. Most jacks have a capacity of around 4,400 pounds.

Why do pallet jacks get stuck?

Pallet jacks can get stuck if they are overloaded, or if the wheels become obstructed. Sometimes, a mechanical issue might also arise. Regular maintenance can help prevent this.


In conclusion, pallet jacks are an essential tool for anyone who needs to move heavy loads in a warehouse or distribution center. By understanding the different types available, how they work, and how to operate and maintain them safely, you can ensure that you're using this equipment effectively and efficiently. We hope this guide has been helpful to you, and that you feel more confident in your ability to use pallet jacks in your work.

P.S: If you're looking for a pallet jack for your own operations, browse our selection of pallet jacks online. We're proud to offer some of the most affordable and reliable pallet jacks in North America.

And last but not least, here's one of our favorite pallet jack memes from the internet (Although this is funny, we absolutely do not encourage riding a pallet jack. Whether that's inside a warehouse or on the road):

Pallet Jack Meme - Pallet Jack Guide

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