When to Replace Your Forklift Tires

When to Replace Your Forklift Tires?


Tires have a huge impact on your forklift. By not replacing them at the appropriate time, you can experience reduced fuel efficiency and operator discomfort or fatigue which could lead to safety issues. On top of that, worn tires can cause extensive damage to the forklift itself.

It’s clear that replacing your forklift tires at the right time is important but how do you know when they need replacing? Forklift tires - like automotive tires – don’t have a specific time frame for replacement. Instead you replace your forklift tires when they are worn or damaged.


Video Summary: Checking Your Forklift Tires

Here's a quick video overview on checking your tires for wear and damage. For more in-depth information on when to replace your tires, keep reading!


Common Ways to Check for Wear on Forklift Tires

One of the most common ways to check for wear is by using the safety line. If the rubber on your tire has reached the safety line, it’s time for replacement.

Safety Line on Forklift Tire

Cushion Tire Worn Down to Safety Line

Another way to check for tire wear is on the sidewall of the tire. Once the rubber reaches the top of the numbering or lettering on the sidewall, the tire should be replaced.

Forklift Tire Worn Down to Lettering on Sidewall

Cushion Tire Worn Down to Lettering on Sidewall

Wear and damage can look different depending on the type of tires you have and there are plenty of ways to check if your tires need replacement based on your tire type. Let’s start with cushion tires.


Checking Cushion Forklift Tires for Wear

Cushion tires can be checked for wear using the “two-inch rule”. If the tire has lost two inches or more from its original height, it should be replaced. Quick Tip: your tire’s original height or outer diameter can be found on the sidewall of the tire.

To properly measure the tire, picture it as a compass. The top of the tire is north. Take measurements across the center of the tire from east to west (or west to east) and compare to the original outer diameter. Since the tire flattens under the weight of the forklift, measurements taken from north to south can be skewed.


Bond Failure

Check for damage where the metal band and the tire meet. Bond failures can easily occur when the rubber has separated from the band. If you can stick a screwdriver or knife into the separated area, it’s time to replace the tire.

Bond Failure on Cushion Tire

Bond Failure on Cushion Tire 


Tread Wear

For traction cushion tires, there’s no definitive tool to help determine tread wear. Visually check the remaining tread. When about 25-30% of the available tread has been worn away, the tire should be replaced.


Checking Solid Pneumatic Forklift Tires for Wear

When solid pneumatic tires have lost 75-80% of the available tread, they should be replaced. Though this rule works for most cases, you’ll want to take your operators and your application into consideration.

Solid Pneumatic Tire with Tread Completely Worn Away


Checking Polyurethane Forklift Tires for Wear

One of the more common signs of wear on polyurethane tires is radial cracking. This occurs when heat builds up within the tire material and escapes through the exterior of the tire. Polyurethane tires with radial cracking are ready for replacement.


Other Types of Forklift Tire Damage

Regardless of your tire type, some signs of damage shouldn’t be ignored. They’ll affect your operators’ productivity and fuel efficiency.



When tires repeatedly run over debris, large pieces of rubber can fall off the tire – called chunking. This causes a bumpy ride for the operator, increasing fatigue and therefore mistakes. Damage to the load can also be caused by chunking.

Damage to Solid Pneumatic Tire that Will Cause Chunking


Flat Spots

Aggressive braking or spin can cause flat spots on the tire. This creates an uneven and uncomfortable experience for the operator. Prevent flat spots by training operators on appropriate speeds and braking procedures.


Radial Cracking

Overloading your forklift can cause radial cracking when heat builds up within the tire. If you’re consistently seeing radial cracking on your solid pneumatic or cushion tires, it may be time to use larger or wider tires to spread the weight of the load over more area.

Radial cracking can also be caused by travelling long distances with no weight on the forks. It may seem counter intuitive, but without a load on the forks, the counterweight rests on the steer tires instead of being evenly distributed.

Radial Cracking on Solid Pneumatic Tire


Benefits of Replacing Your Forklift Tires

Newly replaced forklift tires can offer benefits like reduced fuel consumption, maximized efficiency and increased traction. Plus, new tires reduce shock – creating a better ride for the operator and reducing operator fatigue.

It can also lower maintenance costs. Newly replaced tires can cover the same distance with fewer rotations and that means the drive train components will experience less wear.

Using these tools you’ll be able to determine the best time to replace your forklift tires. For an in-depth guide to your forklift tires – including cost saving tips for replacement – read our Ultimate Guide to Forklift Tires [The Secret to a Productive Forklift]