While they are heavy-duty–made for strenuous, regular use–forklift batteries do not last forever. In general, you can expect to get about 1,500 charges or five years of use out of quality ones. The needle can be tipped one way or the other, as their lifespans depend on several factors, including the type of battery and how you use it.
The good news is that there are several indications that your forklift batteries are on their last leg. Once you notice these signs, you should begin to plan for replacement. Keep reading to find out what the five main ones are.
1. Slower Charging
One of the most evident signs of battery degradation is slow charging. If it is taking your batteries much longer than normal to charge completely, it means there are internal problems.
If there are no other issues, there’s no danger in continuing to use the batteries. You might also get them checked out by a professional forklift repair service to see what could be causing the issue.
If you have lead-acid forklift batteries, they contain sulfuric acid mixed with water. This is the catalyst solution that produces a chemical reaction needed to generate the energy needed to power the machine.
Over time and usage, the water evaporates and must be replaced. If not, you might notice a sulfur smell when charging the batteries.
You also might notice that the battery is losing its cranking power or takes a very long time to charge. This is a strong sign that the battery is not functioning as it should and that you need to replace the part.
3. Fast Power Drain
If your forklift battery drains very quickly, it may be a sign that it is not holding a charge like it used to. It is a warning that the chemical reactions inside the battery are not happening as they should. (This is the same reason batteries do not function as well during cold weather.)
To optimize battery life, do not completely drain them during usage. Letting them get no lower than about 20 percent of total capacity will prolong their ability to retain a charge.
4. Low Power
The battery on your forklift powers the starter. If your motor will not turn over when attempting to crank it, it is most often the battery.
Also, flickering or dim lights on the forklift, or diminished or slow performance with electric forklifts, are major signs that the battery is bad. Before doing anything else, double-check that the battery connections are clean and secure.
5. Acid or Corrosion
The issues above have to do with the internal functions of the battery and the performance of the machine it powers. However, there are visible signs that your battery is having problems. These include the collection of acid outside or signs of corrosion on the terminals of the battery.
Note that battery acid can pose serious threats to workers. It should be treated as a safety hazard, and you should wear protective gear when cleaning it up.
Sometimes these issues are signs of a loose seal or overfilling of the battery. It also could be the result of cracks in the battery, which could be repaired. (Do not attempt to refill any of the lost catalyst fluid–leave that to a professional.)
Find Forklift Batteries Near You
Now that you know the five main signs for when you need new forklift batteries, you can take steps to get the most out of your components without running the risk of breakdown. With a little attention to detail, you can have the peace of mind that it is time to cut your losses and replace the battery.
Superior Industrial Products provides a range of industrial forklift services to small businesses, big box stores, construction sites, and more. We offer forklift maintenance, repairs, parts, sales, and rentals. Reach out to us today to learn more.