Forklift Pricing Guide: Here’s What You Need To Know

how much does a forklift cost

Heavy equipment made for material is one of the most critical expenditures a business can make. The equipment itself is expensive, but selecting a forklift that’s a poor fit for your business can prove even more costly through increased labor and handling costs.

As you begin shopping for a forklift, you’ll quickly become inundated with tons of different types and styles of machine. Each forklift type comes with inherent strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll be able to find several configurations that would make a strong fit for your warehouse.

Today, we’ll help you make sense of everything you’ll see as you begin looking for a forklift, with a focus on how different characteristics and features affect the price of a forklift.

How Much Does a Forklift Cost?

Forklift price ranges can vary widely depending on factors like manufacturer, condition, and features.

The chart below is a rough idea of what you can expect a forklift to cost.

Forklift Type Cost Range New Cost Range Used
Standard $15,000-45,000 $5,000-30,000
Side Loader $25,000-100,000 $10,000-80,000
Counterbalance $20,000-80,000 $7,500-65,000
Telehandler $70,000-140,000 15,000-60,000
Industrial $30,000-$65,000 $10,000-30,000
Rough Terrain $20,000-$50,000 $7,500-30,000
Pallet Jack $300-6,500 $100-4,000
Walkie Stacker $2,500-20,000 $1,000-15,000
Order Picker 12,000-25,000 $7,000-20,000
Reach Fork Truck $15,000-60,000 $8,000-40,000
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Types of Forklifts

While the forklift features have the most significant impact on its price, the lift type also has a profound impact on how much it will cost. Let’s learn a bit more about these different machines and how they can affect your costs.

Standard or Warehouse Forklift

Standard or warehouse forklifts are the most popular style of the lift truck, and they’re the clear choice for basic loading and unloading of pallets with even loads. These are the least expensive powered forklifts, and even the most well-appointed models top out at around $45,000.

Side Loader

You can most commonly find side loaders in processing and manufacturing facilities where handling large and unwieldy material is necessary. The rider sits sideways and moves in the direction of the load, which allows the lift to move material without turning. These forklifts are ideal for navigating narrow warehouse aisles and moving unbalanced loads.

While a basic side loader can cost as low as $25,000, more specialized models for heavy-duty applications can run north of $100,000 when new.

Counterbalance Forklift

A counterbalance truck is similar to a warehouse forklift, but it has a weighted rear which allows it to counterbalance loads and fixed forks that don’t move forward. With this style, the forks extend from the truck itself, and the driver can proceed directly to the load.

These trucks are compact, and 3-wheel models can even maneuver in circles, making them ideal for tight warehouse spaces. A counterbalance forklift is less expensive than many other types, typically running under $30,000.


Telehandlers are specialized equipment regularly used in the agriculture, lumber, building, and utility industries. These lifts are rugged vehicles with a telescoping boom arm ideal for bringing materials from one elevation to another.

You can adapt telehandlers with many different tools beyond standard forks. These machines can be adapted to carry people, materials, other equipment, and more. The application for these machines is broad, so prices range enormously. However, even a light-duty telehandler starts at around $70,000.

Industrial Forklift

Industrial forklifts are essentially the same as warehouse forklifts, albeit with a much higher weight capacity. These machines are ideal for warehouse, shipping, and receiving applications when moving loads of 10,000 pounds or greater.

These machines are relatively inexpensive, and most fall into the $50,000-60,000 range depending on features.

Rough Terrain Forklift

Rough terrain forklifts are rugged all-terrain vehicles used on construction sites and other areas with uneven ground, such as hills, ditches, or soft ground. These forklifts are similar in application to a standard forklift but with higher ground clearance and rugged tires designed to traverse challenging terrain.

An all-terrain forklift can run as high as $50,000 for a standard model, with machines for heavier loads going up in price from there.

Pallet Jack

Pallet jacks are the most inexpensive and straightforward solution for material handling, and most have no motor and rely on the user for power.

Most pallet jacks are designed to move material across even ground or up and down ramps. These tools cost as little as $300 new, with powered models rarely eclipsing $5,000.

Walkie Stacker

A walkie stacker bridges the gap between a pallet jack and a standard forklift, and they’re ideal for transporting loads over short distances. Unlike a pallet jack, walkie stackers can reach greater distances, so they’re suitable for lifting loads as well as transporting them.

Walkie stackers are available to suit tons of applications, and you’ll find walk-behind, counterbalance, ride-on, and reach models. A standard model can run $2,500 or less with more specialized walkie stackers running north of $15,000.

Order Picker

Order pickers are specialized fork trucks that make it easy for warehouse workers to pick orders from extensive facilities. Unlike a standard fork truck, which moves material, an order picker moves people.

Instead of large forks mounted to the front of the lift to transport material, a platform at the front of the vehicle lifts an employee to the proper elevation so that they can pick material for customer orders.Since order pickers don’t require a high load capacity, they’re one of the most inexpensive lifts available. A top-of-the-line order picked tops out at around $25,000.

Reach Fork Truck

Reach fork trucks are virtually identical to tele-handlers. While the term tele-handler is most often used to describe enormous pieces of construction equipment, reach fork trucks are usually a bit smaller and handle less material.

Reach fork trucks also don’t have as many accessories as tele-handlers, which can usually be adapted to handle a handful of different construction and material handling tasks. Most new reach trucks fall into the $30,000-60,000 range.

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Forklift Fuel Types

How a forklift receives power is another factor that can profoundly impact the price of the machine.

You may power a lift by electricity, an internal combustion engine, or a fuel cell, such as a propane gas cylinder. Each fuel type has inherent advantages and drawbacks, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below.


Electric forklifts have quickly become the most popular forklift style, thanks mainly to improvements in technology. Today’s models charge faster than ever and provide power and runtime that’s comparable to a combustion engine. Electric forklifts are usually reasonably affordable, and they require less maintenance than fuel cell or combustion forklifts.

Since there are no emissions, electric forklifts are also better for employees and the earth. They can be used indoors and in sensitive environments, such as schools or healthcare facilities.

While you can also use electric forklifts outdoors, most models aren’t built to withstand water and other elements. Some costly models have unique components that protect the electrical components from inclement weather, but most can only be used outdoors under ideal conditions. Electric forklifts also require less maintenance than their internal combustion counterparts, and they have lower fuel costs. In the long run, an electric forklift is the most cost-effective style to own, but they do have higher initial costs, and additional batteries can cost as much as $5,000 each.

Fuel Cell

Fuel cell forklifts are similar to electric models, except they rely on hydrogen fuel cells instead of electricity to power the machine.

Like their electric counterparts, fuel cell forklifts offer a similar array of benefits. These forklifts are relatively low maintenance, and they don’t generate any emissions, which is better for employees and the environment. These machines also handle inclement weather much better than electric models do, which means they’re helpful for an array of different applications.

The primary benefit that fuel cell fork trucks offer over their electric counterparts is that they don’t require charging between uses. You can refuel these machines in a matter of minutes, compared with the 6-12 hours it takes to charge the batteries on an electric forklift.

Because fuel cell forklifts need so much less downtime compared to electric models, they’re ideal for multi-shift operations that require the use of a forklift around the clock.

Fuel cell machines have similar up-front costs to electric forklifts, but the fuel cells are significantly more expensive than batteries are, so the initial cost of ownership is a bit higher with a fuel cell truck. Servicing a fuel cell lift is also typically more expensive than an electric or IC model.

While the ownership costs may seem higher with a fuel cell model, the long-term prices of this style of lift are lower, making it a popular choice among businesses willing to deal with higher up-front costs in the name of future savings.

Internal Combustion

The third style of forklifts, and still one of the most popular, are forklifts that feature internal combustion engines. There’s a variety of types on the market, including gasoline, diesel, LPG (liquid propane), and CNG (compressed natural gas) models. Regardless of the type of fuel, each style offers similar advantages and benefits.

IC forklifts are ideal for use in virtually any environment. Their rugged build and lack of electrical components make them suitable for use outdoors, on construction sites, and in other settings where the terrain is challenging to navigate. IC engines produce emissions, unlike electric and fuel cell lifts, so they’re not as safe as electric, and fuel cell lifts are for indoor use.

IC forklifts are the most popular choice for applications where additional power or handling capacity is necessary since IC forklifts are often more powerful than their electric or fuel cell counterparts. IC models are the most common choice in industrial and construction settings where the material being handled usually weighs several tons or more.

Forklifts with internal combustion engines typically have the lowest initial costs of ownership. The base machinery is usually a bit cheaper, and there’s no need to purchase fuel cells or batteries to get up and running.

While IC lifts might be cheaper initially, they have higher long-term costs than electric or fuel cell models. The cost of fuel is more expensive, and standard maintenance procedures can cost several hundred dollars per year.

Factors That Affect a Forklift’s Price

Beyond the style of forklift and the type of engine it has, several characteristics and features can profoundly affect the price of a forklift. Here are the factors you’ll need to consider.


There are tons of different brands on the market, each catering to different styles and fuel types. Some manufacturers, such as Linde or Crown, are well known for their craftsmanship.In contrast, others, such as Toyota are Hyster-Yale, are a bit more affordable and are incredibly popular because of their lower cost of ownership.


The type of forklift you’re shopping for also has a profound effect on what it will cost. For example, a standard warehouse forklift costs significantly less than a specialized telehandler for handling multiple tons of material at a time.

You can expect any forklift designed for a specialized purpose to command a higher price tag than a general use machine.


The most impactful characteristic of any forklift when it comes to price is its handling capacity. Lift trucks that can handle heavier loads are significantly more expensive than those intended for light-duty operations.

A basic forklift usually has a weight capacity of 6,000 pounds or less, while forklifts for industrial settings often handle loads twice that size. Some enormous pieces of machinery, including telehandlers and large all-terrain forklifts, may have a weight capacity north of 20,000 pounds.

As you’d imagine, these specialized lifts can be costly, regularly breaching the $100,000 mark.

Fuel Type

The type of fuel that powers the forklift is another aspect that will affect price, but it has a more profound effect on the long-term costs of ownership.

Whether a forklift runs on electric, hydrogen fuel cells, or combustible fuel may affect the initial cost of a forklift by up to $20,000. Over time, the recurring costs of the fuel source you chose can significantly impact costs.

Combustion engines are usually the cheapest to own up front, but fuel and maintenance costs add up significantly over time. Electric and hydrogen fuel cell lifts tend to be the most cost-effective over time.

Mast Size

The mast of a forklift is the part that extends vertically from the forks. This component controls the lifting, lowering, and tilting of loads. Masts are classified by stages, with a single-stage mast having the lowest lifting capability and a quad stage mast having the highest.

Most forklifts have a three-stage mast, which allows the machine to lift loads over 180 feet off the ground. As a rule of thumb, the larger the mast, the more expensive the lift will be.

Tire Type

The type of tires a forklift uses will also affect its price. Cushion tires are the least expensive and provide the most comfortable ride on paved surfaces.

Solid pneumatic tires are the most popular, and they’re excellent for all-purpose use. They’re a bit more expensive than cushion tires, but they’re cheaper than the air-filled pneumatic tires, which are best for all-terrain applications.

Hydraulic Setup

Hydraulic cylinders come in two styles when used in forklifts. The ram-style cylinders handle lifting operations, while piston-style cylinders can handle lifting, tilting, and steering functions.

A forklift that only lifts loads vertically can employ a ram-style cylinder, the least expensive forklift hydraulic system. Most forklifts use piston-style cylinders or a combination of the two, which drives the price up.


The features of a forklift can dramatically affect its price. Virtually every aspect of a forklift, including forks, masts, fuel capacity, and more, can be upgraded or downgraded to hit a specific price. Forklifts with more features and heavy-duty components command a higher price tag.

Accessories & Attachments

Virtually every type of forklift has several available accessories and attachments that make it useful for various tasks. Large machines, like telehandlers, may have a dozen or more different extensions available to suit different tasks. These accessories and attachments can significantly raise the price of a forklift.

Supply & Demand

The forces of supply and demand can profoundly impact the price of a forklift, especially when it comes to used inventory. If supply is low and demand is high, you can expect to pay a premium if you purchase a forklift. The opposite is true in instances where supply is high and demand is low.


Warranties are a significant selling point when buying a new or used forklift. New forklifts include a manufacturer’s warranty as a selling point, but used forklifts don’t typically have a warranty from the manufacturer. Instead, you can purchase a warranty at the time of sale.


When shopping for a used forklift, the condition it’s in can profoundly affect the price. Expect to pay significantly more for a forklift in excellent condition than a machine in serviceable or poor condition.


The model year of a forklift is another factor that impacts the price of a used forklift. The year it was manufactured has less impact than its condition or the number of hours on the machine, but it’s still something buyers look for when purchasing a used machine.


The hours a used forklift has been used have the most significant impact on the price of a used forklift. As a rule of thumb, every one hour a forklift is in use is like 3,000 miles on a car engine. While hours don’t tell the whole story of how much use a forklift has seen, the lower the hours, the higher the price will be.

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Forklift Pricing FAQs

When shopping for a forklift, there are some common questions that most buyers have. Chances are, you may have some similar questions as you begin researching the best forklift for your business, so we’ve rounded up all the answers below.

Is there a “Blue Book” for forklifts?

Unfortunately, there’s no Kelley Blue Book for forklifts, making it more challenging to know the right price to buy or sell a used forklift, especially if this is your first time.

In place of an industry publication like Blue Book, it’s a wise choice to work with a reputable dealer with years of experience buying and selling material handling machinery.

These dealers may be a bit more expensive than what you’d pay in a private sale, but they’re often much more reputable, have access to a broader inventory, and provide support and maintenance after the sale.

Where can I get a good deal on a forklift?

It’s possible to score a good deal on a forklift virtually anywhere, depending on what you’re looking for. You may achieve a great deal locally by checking marketplaces like Craigslist or the classified section of the local paper.

While it may be harder to find an excellent deal from a dealer specializing in forklift sales, you can indeed find one. If you’re able to be flexible about what features and characteristics you need, you’ll have the best chance of securing an excellent deal from a dealership.

Can I buy or rent a forklift at Home Depot?

While Home Depot doesn’t sell large equipment like forklifts, it may be possible to secure a rental with Home Depot. Some large equipment, including telehandlers, aerial lifts, and man lifts, are available for rent from their stores. However, you won’t find any traditional warehouse or industrial forklifts for rent.

If you’re looking to rent a forklift, many service providers in your area specialize in delivering large equipment like forklifts direct to your warehouse or job site.

Should I buy or rent a forklift?

The decision of whether to rent or purchase a forklift essentially boils down to the type of business you’re in and how often you require a forklift.

Rental costs are pretty affordable, and renting a forklift is ideal for short-term or occasional use. However, pickup and delivery costs can be pretty expensive, which mitigates the cost benefits of renting a forklift.

If you need a forklift a few times a year for brief periods, renting is probably the way to go. But, if you’re using a forklift regularly in your operations, it wouldn’t take long before your rental cost would overtake the cost of buying a forklift outright.

How much does it cost to rent a forklift?

Forklift rentals can be pretty inexpensive depending on where you’re located and how many rental specialists there are in your area. Short-term rentals cost around $200 per day or less, depending on the specifications you require. With longer rental terms, the cost per day drops significantly.

Be advised: rental companies also charge a fee to deliver and pick up the forklift, driving rental costs much higher. So, unless you’re prepared to pick up a forklift from the rental facility and trailer it to your location, be sure to budget for a few hundred dollars of transportation costs.

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