Forklift Brakes

Inspection & Replacement

Before every work shift, forklift operators are required to perform a pre-shift inspection. One item of focus is the brakes. Malfunction of the forklift brakes can result in serious damage, injury or death, making regular inspection a must.


While an operator’s inspection is limited, basic functionality can be tested. It is important the brake pedal does not fall to the floor and has enough resistance to create a safe stopping distance. The parking brake should also hold a 15 percent grade.


Forklift brakes can average 5,000 – 7,000 hours during their lifetime. This range of hours is affected by the driving patterns in the warehouse. For example, if an operator drives longer distances without obstacles or stacking loads, the brakes will incur less usage.

Newly installed forklift brake shoes and drums have smooth surfaces. During usage, debris and dust create ridges on the brake shoes. If caught early, these ridges can be smoothed out; however, if the brake damage has gone too long, these ridges transfer to the brake drums. Once the drums are damaged the complete brake system must be replaced.


The most common reasons for early forklift brake failure include:

  • Riding with a foot on the brake
  • Forgetting to release the parking brake
  • Aggressively braking by not allowing time to slow the forklift
  • Damage to the hub seals or wheel cylinders, which covers brake shoes and drums with oil

Companies can be proactive with regular maintenance. At every 250 hours, the brake dust should be blown out. A more extensive inspection should be completed at 2,000 hours with technician expertise; the brake drums can be pulled for inspection.

Time for your forklift’s brake inspection? Or concerned your brakes need repair? Call Thompson & Johnson today to speak to an equipment specialist or fill out a Customer Request Email Form above! 

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.