What Year Is My Forklift
Finding the exact year of manufacture for a forklift can be tricky. However, whether you're looking for parts or planning to sell a used lift truck, knowing your make, model, and year is vital. So what can you do?
The good news is the forklift serial number contains all the information you need to ascertain when it was manufactured. The bad news? Every manufacturer has a different serial number system, and most don't use anything as simple as a year code.
Don't worry, here's a handy guide to working out the age of a forklift from several of the most popular brands on the market.
Forklift Year By Serial Number
Whether for a sales listing or to get the correct parts for a repair, the easiest way to find out your lift's age is using a combination of the forklift serial number and model number. Sometimes these are combined, but it's important to make a note of both if this isn't the case for your particular model.
Locating the Serial Number
Luckily, this part of the process is generally simple. Thanks to OSHA and other regulations, all forklifts must carry a data plate (also called a nameplate or capacity plate) stating several key pieces of information about the forklift model and its materials handling parameters. This takes the form of a sheet of metal attached to the instrument panel by the manufacturer and embossed or printed with the relevant data. It can generally be found near the main controls.
For Caterpillar and Kalmar forklifts, the data plate includes the year of manufacture directly. Whereas, for most other lift truck makes, you will need to refer to the model information. Once you've found the data plate, it should be simple to identify the sections giving the serial number (and model number if the two aren't combined). Both are likely to contain a combination of numbers and letters, with the serial number being the longer of the two.
However, data plates can get worn or damaged over time. Although there are other ways to locate the serial number, these also vary from company to company.
Hyster or Yale Forklifts
On a Hyster forklift, the backup location for the serial number is under the hood on the right-hand side of the forklift. Note, this tends to be the same for Yale forklift models, as they are both part of the same Hyster-Yale group.
For models from 1957 onwards, the process of identifying the year of manufacture is very simple. The serial number will be a string of 11 letters and numbers, the final letter of which indicates a year code.
1957 was A, then 1958 B, and so on, with all letters except I, O, and Q being used, so the cycle repeats every 23 years (so 1980 was A again).
Here are the codes for the last couple of decades as an easy reference:
Other Forklift Brands
Unfortunately, most other manufacturers of lift trucks don't have a convenient year code as part of their serial number system. However, the model and serial number of the forklift truck should still be sufficient to find out the vehicle's age Several lookup services are posted online for the following brands, but it's hard to tell how accurate these posts are, so for the most reliable information you may be best contacting your local authorized dealer.
Below I've posted details on where to find the forklift serial number for each brand in case of damage to (or loss of) the capacity plate, in addition to the most common serial and model number formats used by each company.
Although there is some variation, the majority of Toyota forklifts have the serial number on the front of the chassis frame. This location does vary between models though, so check the rest of the frame if you can't find it there.
Toyota uses a combined numbering system for their forklift trucks, so the serial number also indicates the model information.
If the data/capacity plate of your Clark forklift model (usually found next to the seat) is missing or damaged, you can generally find the serial number stamped onto the frame on the left of the chassis. These are usually 15 characters long, split into three sections.
If you're looking for the serial number on a Caterpillar forklift without a capacity plate (which shows the year of manufacture directly), the company stamps these onto the chassis just above the front wheel on the right-hand side of the vehicle.