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What Are The Parts of a Forklift? All You Need to Know

by Ion Rotaru 17 Jun 2023 1 comment

You've seen forklifts around. And you mostly understand how they work. But do you know what actually makes them work - what the parts of a forklift are? This is what this article is all about. In this forklift guide, we'll break down for you the main parts of a forklift, show you what they look like, and answer common questions about them.

Let's get started!

What are the main parts of a forklift?

Parts of a Forklift - Diagram

Let's start by discussing the main components of a forklift. In broad strokes, a forklift is comprised of the following major parts:

  • The Truck Frame: This is the base of the forklift and the most crucial component for its structural integrity. It houses the fuel and hydraulic fluid tanks, providing the core stability needed to lift heavy loads.
  • The Mast: This part is responsible for raising and lowering the load. It's like the backbone of the forklift, providing vertical movement and enabling high reach.
  • The Forks: Affixed to the mast, these are the prongs that slide under the load to lift and carry it.
  • The Counterweight: Located at the rear of the forklift, it counterbalances the load being lifted.
  • The Power Source: Depending on the type of forklift, this could be an internal combustion engine or an electric motor.
  • The Tilt Cylinders: These hydraulic pistons are connected to the truck frame and mast, allowing the mast to tilt backward or forward to ensure safe handling of loads.
  • The Overhead Guard: This is a metal roof-like structure that protects the operator from any falling objects.
  • The Carriage: This part is mounted into and moves up and down the mast rails, carrying the forks along with it.

And here are the other parts of a forklift

  • Steering Axle: This axle provides steering capabilities, enabling the forklift to move and navigate through a variety of terrains and conditions.
  • Wheels: Forklifts typically have a set of steering wheels and load wheels. The steering wheels, located at the back, allow the forklift to turn and pivot, while the load wheels, at the front, bear the brunt of the load weight.
  • Load Backrest: Attached to the carriage, the load backrest ensures that the load does not shift backwards when the mast is tilted back. This provides additional stability and safety
  • Operator Controls: These consist of a variety of levers, pedals, buttons, and switches that allow the operator to control the forklift's movements, including lifting, lowering, tilting, and steering.
  • Dashboard: The dashboard features gauges and indicators that help monitor the forklift's operation, including fuel level, engine temperature, and oil pressure.
  • Seat and Seat Belt: The seat should offer adequate comfort for the operator while the seat belt provides safety in case of tip-over accidents.
  • Lights and Mirrors: These components are crucial for visibility and safety. Lights help illuminate the work area in low light conditions, while mirrors provide a rear view for the operator.
  • Lift and Tilt Cylinders: These are hydraulic mechanisms that control the lifting and tilting movements of the mast and carriage. The lift cylinder powers the mast to raise and lower, while the tilt cylinders allow the mast to tilt forwards and backwards.
  • Brakes: Forklifts come with a service brake for regular operation and a parking brake for secure stationary positioning when not in use.

There are other smaller or less important parts as well. But for 99% of us in this industry, knowing the ones listed above is more than enough.

What are the 3 main guards on a forklift?

Guards on a forklift are critical for the safety of the operator. Here are the three main ones:

  1. Overhead Guard: As mentioned earlier, the overhead guard acts like a roof, protecting the operator from falling objects.
  2. Load Backrest: This extension of the carriage prevents the load from shifting backward onto the operator.
  3. Cage or Cab: The operator's cage or cab is essentially a protective compartment where the operator sits or stands while operating the forklift.

3 Main guards on a forklift

What are the arms on a forklift called?

The arms on a forklift are commonly known as forks or tines. These are the 'hands' of the forklift, which slide underneath the pallets or loads, lifting them off the ground and moving them around. Other names for the arms on a forklift are prongs or lift forks.

Related: Read Our Forklift Pricing Guide

The 3 major parts of a forklift

If we were to distil the forklift down to its three most significant parts, it would be:

The Truck Frame: It is the core of the machine, providing structure and housing essential components.

The Mast: This provides the vertical movement needed to lift and lower loads. Without it, a forklift wouldn't be much more than a fun way to drive around the warehouse.

The Power Source: Pretty self explanatory - It fuels the forklift. Whether it's an internal combustion engine or an electric motor.

What is the most important part of a forklift?

While every part plays a crucial role in the overall operation and safety of a forklift, I'd say the most important part is the operator. The operator's skill and attention to safety protocols determine how well all the parts work together and how safely loads are handled. In the end, it's the human factor that makes the difference.


I hope you found this guide pallet-able. If you've learned something new about forklift parts or about how a forklift works from reading this article, we've achieved our goal! Stay safe and keep up the good work.

P.S: If you're in the market for a forklift, don't forget to check out our selection of used forklifts online. We have some great options for used forklifts in Quebec, Ontario, and other parts of the country.

1 comment

16 May 2024 C.VAIRAMUTHU
Your guidelines is very helpful

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