10 Most Important Forklift Components

If you own or operate a forklift, you know firsthand that these mighty machines are much more than just wheels and a lifting mechanism. But what parts make up a forklift? As complex as they might seem, understanding the most essential forklift components is the key to appreciating how they work. Explore the 10 most important forklift parts and the roles they play in your material handling operation.


  1. Mast
    The mast, which is the vertical assembly primarily responsible for raising and lowering the load, is at the heart of a forklift’s functionality. It’s typically made of interlocking rails guided by rollers or bushings. The number of stages a mast has determines its maximum lift height.

  2. Carriage
    Mounted directly to the mast, the carriage holds, moves, and shifts the forks. Different attachments can be fixed to the carriage depending on the task you require, enhancing the forklift’s versatility.

  3. Forks
    These are often what come to mind when you think of forklift parts. The forks are the horizontal tines that slide under the cargo, securely lifting and transporting it from point A to point B.

  4. Overhead Guard
    Safety first! The overhead guard is a shielding, roof-like structure on a forklift. It protects the operator from falling objects and is critical for workplace safety.

  5. Tires
    Forklift tires come in two main types: cushion and pneumatic. The style your forklift has depends on where you primarily use it—indoors, outdoors, or both. Cushion tires are meant for smooth indoor surfaces, while pneumatic tires can navigate rough, uneven terrain.

  6. Counterweight
    With its location at the back of the forklift, the counterweight ensures stability. When a forklift raises a heavy load, this component balances the weight, preventing the machine from tipping over.

  7. Tilt Cylinders
    These hydraulic cylinders help with tilting the mast forward or backward. This adjustment ensures the load remains stable and safely attached during transportation.

  8. Lift Cylinder
    The lift cylinder is pivotal for raising and lowering the mast. Powered by hydraulics, it ensures the smooth vertical movement of loads.

  9. Load Backrest
    The load backrest offers support to prevent the shifted load from falling over. It’s an extension attached directly to the carriage.

  10. Drive Axle
    This critical component redirects power from the forklift’s engine to its wheels, ensuring the machine moves smoothly. In this way, the drive axle is integral to a forklift’s mobility.


Partner with Ring Power Lift Trucks

When it comes to understanding how forklifts work, familiarizing yourself with these essential lift truck parts provides a solid foundation. Each component plays a role in ensuring safe, efficient, and smooth operation.


If you’re in the market for a new forklift, a used forklift, or a forklift rental, Ring Power Lift Trucks has you covered. We also supply premium OEM and aftermarket forklift parts, along with operator training, to maximize the safety and efficiency of your material handling business. With over 60 years of experience and 11 strategic locations throughout Florida, we are committed to bringing superior products and services to every corner of the Sunshine State. Contact us today at 877-544-5438 for more information.


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