Before operating a forklift you have to learn its controls. Lucky for you, most forklift controls are universal. 

Once you know how to operate a forklift, the controls are the same across the board. There are evident differences in the controls of the forklift you’re operating whether that’s an indoor forklift, rough terrain lift, or another type. Before driving a forklift, you’ll need to locate each mechanism and understand how it works. 

This will act as your “how-to” guide for forklift controls. Once you’re familiar with its controls, driving a forklift is simple. Let’s get started. 

Forklift Controls

Learning how to operate a forklift could depend on the type. 

Specialty forklifts may have operating controls that differ from one another, but the premise is the same. In all cases, before driving a forklift you need to pass training. Based on your work environment specialty forklift training will be modeled to the one you’re operating. 

Forklifts have forward/reverse directional controls, hydraulic lift controls, pedals, and a parking brake. Each mechanism is needed for a different operation of the forklift. 

Directional Controls

Like a tractor or lawnmower, direction controls are your standard forward or backward movements. 

On forklifts, these controls can be mounted on the steering column or operated by foot. Foot-operated controls are a mirror image of a gas pedal, but function as a shifter of sorts. 

Hydraulic Lift Mechanism

Lifting mechanisms are essential to the function of a forklift. Without these controls, the machine can’t raise or lower its forks for product transportation. 

Before operating, take the time to look over these controls and ensure they work. The hydraulics failing during a lift creates a hazardous work environment. 


This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but in order to operate the vehicle, you need pedals. These pedals are similar to a gas or brake pedal in your everyday vehicle. Some forklifts also operate using a clutch which shifts the vehicle into higher gears. 

One pedal that isn’t in your vehicle is the inching pedal. This is used for more control in tight places. 

Parking Brake

Another standard feature; all forklifts have a parking brake. 

This should be set if you’re not operating the forklift or if you’re parked on an incline. Once again, a forklift parking brake is quite similar to any vehicle you’re currently driving. 

Superior Forklift Services

Once you’ve learned forklift controls, you need a forklift that is superior. 

At Superior Industrial Products (SIP), we don’t want to be just another vendor. Your business relies on services to be handled the right way. Our goal is to provide you with forklift specific services that you value. 

We handle parts and services, equipment, rentals, allied products, and training. SIP will lower your costs, manage your forklift’s life, and prevent downtime if something occurs on the job. Competitive prices, structure, and higher standards are important to our process. 

Year after year we uphold our promise to you, the customer. Choose SIP as your preferred forklift service specialist.