How to Start an LPG Forklift in Cold Weather
If your propane forklift won't start, we’ve got the lowdown on starting your LPG forklift in cold weather. Let’s start with preventing a “no start” situation in the first place.
Keep Your Forklift Warm
A cold machine takes much more energy to start. On top of that, the fuel regulator can freeze, not to mention the forklift itself can freeze up in extremely cold temperatures.
If you’re parking the forklift for an extended period of time, try to make sure it’s inside. Parking your LPG in a warm, dry area of your facility is ideal, but if you can at least keep it away from the freezing temperatures and/or wet conditions outside, you’ll have less trouble starting the machine when you need it next.
A cold engine may have difficulty turning over, so if your LPG forklift has been cold for an extended period of time, you may want to move it inside or to a heated area to warm up. This task won’t be possible for everyone, but if you have the capability to move the forklift without starting it, we’d recommend you warm up the engine and try to start the machine again before troubleshooting other issues.
Take Care of Your Batteries
This may seem like Batteries 101 but make sure to check that the battery is both charged and properly connected. A proper connection looks like:
Similar to a car, your LPG forklift may have trouble turning over if the battery is too cold or hasn’t been used in a while.
Your LPG relies on the battery to get started so be diligent in caring for your batteries in cold weather.
Load Testing Your LPG Forklift’s Battery
If you’ll be using your forklift outside in the cold weather this winter, we recommend you have your battery load tested. A load tester puts amps on the battery for a certain amount of time, usually around 10 seconds, to verify where the volts drop. Essentially, a load test determines where your battery fails to complete the circuit which tells you the maximum output of the battery under different conditions.
In a heated shop your battery could drop to 11.5 volts which would be considered “passing”. While outside the shop in the cold your battery could drop to 9.8 volts which would also be acceptable considering the conditions. There a many factors that affect the outcome of a load test so we generally recommend you have a professional perform the test.
A load test will give you some idea of the state of your forklift battery’s health but it’s certainly not a guarantee that your battery will last through the season. Which is why we’ll urge you not to rely too heavily on it. In the course of one day conditions can change, making your battery unreliable.
Troubleshooting “No Start” Situations with Your LPG Forklift
A non-starting forklift is never good for the bottom-line and is almost always a drain on productivity. Being able to quickly troubleshoot the cause of the problem can save you time and money.
When trying to start your LPG listen closely to any sounds coming from the machine. What you hear is an indicator of what caused the failure to start.
1. No Crank Failure to Start
If you don’t hear the engine turning over at all but instead hear the sound of a click, you’re experiencing a “No Crank – No Start” situation. Most likely the cause of the failure to start is the battery.
Test the voltage of the battery with a multimeter.
- If the battery still has very little charge or has been completely discharged, put it on a low, extended charge. This will reduce the damage to the battery.
Replace the original battery with one that is fully charged while the original is charging, and attempt to start the machine again. Hopefully you’ll have no further issues and be able to get back to work.
- If you don’t have a spare battery to replace the original discharged one, you may want to jump start it using a battery from another truck. To jump start the battery yourself, follow these tips. Otherwise you can consult your forklift dealer on next steps.
2. Crank Failure to Start
In this case, you should hear the engine turning over as usual but the engine never catches and fails to start. You may also hear the engine turning over more slowly than normal.
The cause of a “Crank - No Start” situation could be any of a multitude of issues including problems with: fuel, spark plugs, air, regulator or electrical system. We’d recommend you contact your forklift dealer to further identify the problem and provide a solution.
Once you get your LPG started, allow the forklift to warm up for about 5 minutes. Then test the hydraulic functions. Raise and lower the forks or adjust the forklift attachments before starting normal operations.
Read more on preparing your forklift for cold weather operation.