The Differences Between a 3-Wheel and 4-Wheel Forklift

Renting or purchasing the right forklift can be a confusing process. There are general assumptions about forklifts as people often think they do the same thing without realizing each type provides a different output and is made for different applications. While the 3-wheel and 4-wheel forklift have some similar features, they have some major differencing including the following.



The 3-wheel forklifts have a smaller turning circle from the 4-wheel forklift. This is a great option if you have limited space in the warehouse and need to navigate small areas. A 3-wheel forklift has a counterbalance that allows the machine to maneuver easily. It has a different balance feature, but the brand can alter the maximum weight load on some brands. A 3-wheel forklift is ideal for applications that require inside and outside use and rack loading. The tight maneuverability allows the 3-wheel forklift to increase productivity with its combination of counterbalance and under-clearance.


3-Wheel Forklift Details

While the maneuverability of the 3-wheel forklift can improve production, there are some differences. A 3-wheel electric drive configuration has a dual steer wheel mounted centrally beneath the counterweight. A 3-wheel electric drive is used for a lighter load application as they normally cannot have a load capacity over 2500kg.

A 3-wheel forklift is best for indoor warehouses with smooth surfaces. They excel in areas where you have small spaces. They are suitable for most industries as they are commonly seen in building warehouses, garden centers, and other places. You cannot drive a 3-wheel forklift over gravel as it will have a difficult time gripping the ground.  One concern with a 3-wheel forklift is that it can be less stable when you turn with a load.



The 4-wheel forklifts are known for being better for gradebility. Most brands have the same amount of power and drive system, but the gradebility of the machines are higher. This is essential for a company that needs to manage large warehouses to move heavy equipment and machinery around steep areas.


4-Wheel Forklift Details

A 4-wheel forklift has a single steering wheel on the rear of each corner that has a dual acting hydraulic ram. The 4-wheel forklifts provide better stability and it works well for turning with a heavy load. If you have a rougher yard area, the 4-wheel forklift will do better at moving the load to the right place. Most 4-wheel forklifts will be able to handle up to 8000kg. It depends on the brand of the 4-wheel forklift. Hardware stores and retail outlets often use the 4-wheel forklifts, but they can handle major needs as well like tool installation of dies, jigs, and presses.

A 4-wheel forklift is preferable for companies with large capacity needs and rough flooring areas. The downside to the 4-wheel forklift is their larger turning circle. This makes it harder to maneuver the forklift inside a tight warehouse space. The cost of a 4-wheel forklift is normally much higher than a 3-wheel forklift.


Selecting a Forklift

It is important to select the right forklift brand. If you do not have the right forklift brand, it can end up causing problems with load capacities and turning radius’s. Compare several models to find the best forklift option for your organization.

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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