forklift tyres - different sizes and types of forklift tyre

Forklift tyres are amongst the most important parts of a forklift that require regular inspection. As they are one of the most common wear items, they will also require more frequent replacement than other forklift parts.  Forklift tyres need to be in good condition to maximize the trucks operational use and performance.

Forklift Tires Near Me?

It is easy to find a reputable forklift tyre dealer or fitter in your area. But before you proceed it is important to understand the different types and sizes of tires that are available on the market. This will give you the confidence in purchasing the right tire and at the right price.

Getting the wrong type of tyre is a potential waste of money and a risk to safety.

We have produced this guide to help you in choosing the right tyre for your machine. We included everything you need to know about how to correctly choose forklift tyres.

| When Forklift Tyres Needs to Be Replaced

Damaged forklift tyre - forklift tire showing signs of damage to the side wall
Damaged Forklift Tyre

Tyres have a significant advantage on the forklift when they’re in good condition that’s why you should know when tyres need to be replaced. Not replacing them at the appropriate time can lead to poor machine performance. In addition, your forklift operators will experience more fatigue as the worn tyres will absorb less of the shocks.

Knowing when to replace a forklift tyre depends on the type you are using. Below is a general guide to help you understand the signs:

  • Check the sidewall. You will see the numbering and lettering, when rubber reaches the characters, it is an indication that the wearing reaches the wear line, also called safety line, or it is about 50% of the original thickness, then it is time to have the tyre replaced.


  • Visually check the tread. You don’t need keen eyes to see if the tyre is chunking and pieces of rubber are falling off or if it is tearing off in spots or when it is cracking, if you see these flaws during inspection then it is time to have the tyre replaced.


  • Check the roundness of the tyres. They should be perfectly round. During visual inspection, when a flat spot is spotted, it is a condition when part of the tyre is flat hence its name, have the tyres replaced.


  • Check the pressure. This applies to pneumatic tyres. If the tyre is deflated, then it is a sign of a puncture or faulty valve. Need to check this out by inflating the tyre to the correct pressure and monitor if it remains there.

You should be aware of these conditions to ensure safe operation so that risk can be eliminated because damaged tyre poses a serious safety concern. Remember, newly replaced tyres can give significant advantages like less operator fatigue, reduced fuel consumption, lower maintenance cost and increased traction – all of these will result to work efficiency.

Forklift tyre showing a worn tread and needing replacing
Worn Tread On Forklift Tyre

| Quick Tips to Avoid Damage

  • Don’t lift or transport material that goes over the maximum load capacity of the forklift. Overloading can cause radial cracking when heat builds up within the tyre, it is loading with too much weight and long period and over a long distance of operation cause heat build-up.
  • Don’t drive the forklift on an uneven floor surface. If the workplace has an uneven floor this will cause the tyre to wear faster than usual.
  • The operator’s driving attitude can considerably damage the tyre if the forklift is driven with excessive speed or throwing into forward or reverse without stopping first. Prohibit the operator from doing stunts and horse playing with the truck.
  • If the tyres installed on the forklift are pneumatic, make sure it is always in the right pressure. When the forklift tyres are under-inflated, it poses the probability of accident such as sidewall separation, bead failure and blowout during the lifting operation.
  • Ramps and incline with metal teeth can heavily damage the traction tread tyres. The operator should not drive the truck with such tyres up a ramp with metal teeth. If the tyres have been damaged, it will not be covered by the warranty.

| Types of Forklift Tyre

Cushion Tyres

The forklift truck with cushion tyres is used mainly inside the warehouse with even concrete floors. The front cushion tyres of a forklift truck have tread design to maximize the grip on the floor during heavy lifting while the rear cushion tyres which are used for steering are usually smooth. This type is fitted with round metal rim. They’re much less expensive compare to other types of forklift tyres. What is good about this type is that it has lower ground clearance and better turning radius ideal for jobs in tight spaces making the truck they’re installed on much more maneuverable.

Pneumatic Tyres

The pneumatic tyre is generally larger than the solid ones and used mainly outdoor on loose gravel and uneven surfaces. Like the tyres of a car it is an inflated tyre to provide cushioning and has an inner tube and air valve. These tyres have thick deep treads and strong wear-resistant rubber material. As it is air filled it is prone to punctures and tend to wear out quicker than solid tyres.

Solid Tyres

This is the common type of tyre, they’re basically the same as pneumatic however they’re not filled with air reducing the cushioning effect. This type is versatile, they don’t get easily punctured or go flat thus it saves you from a lot of hassles to avoid flats during forklift operation, you don’t have to pay someone to come and repair the flat in the field.

Polyurethane Tyres

This ideal for use in the indoor area with a smooth floor surface. In some application such as in the freezer or cooler storage where the forklift truck needs a different type of traction and high lifting capacity, polyurethane tyres are used. Electric reach trucks and walkie stackers used this type of tyre.

Foam-Filled Tyres

Foam-filed tyres are the same as solid pneumatic tyres. Just like the solid tyres, this type is used to prevent flat and blow out in a harsh outdoor and uneven road surface. Foam filled tyres are an alternative to solid tyres when the latter are not available.

Non-Marking forklift Tyres

Solid, pneumatic and cushion types of forklift tyres have two varieties: a standard or a non-marking. To differentiate the two from each other, the standard ones are commonly black in color which leave markings on the floor after a long period of operation. The reason why they’re black is that during the manufacture, soot chemical is added in the rubber mix to make it more wear-resistant. It is designed to install on both electric and internal combustion forklifts.

Non-marking tyres, which are either white or grey in colour, are made from a special compound that is designed not to mark floors. They don’t make the floor surface a mess, especially when the floor is coated with light-colored paint or polished concrete.

If you are buying for new ones, we recommend the non-marking if your operation deals with food processing or handling, though non-markings are much more expensive.  You also need to be aware of its disadvantages such as the non-markings wear more quickly about 25% faster than the standard tyres and that they may not leave visible marking on the floor, but the worn rubber material is still deposited on the floor surface just as the standard.

| Types of Tread on Forklift Tyres

There are 2 main types of tread on forklift tyres, smooth and treaded.

Smooth tyres are used indoors on flat, smooth surfaces. Typically found in warehouse or manufacturing facilities that have concrete floors. Not suitable for outdoor use.

Treaded tyres are designed for outdoor use in rough and wet environments, where extra traction is required.

| Forklift Tyre Sizes

Forklift tyres come in various sizes. The size would normally be shown on the side of the tyre in raised numbering.

The measurements refer to the:

  • outside diameter (height) (a)
  • width (b)
  • inside diameter (rim) (c)

The numbers will either represent imperial (inches) or metric (millimetres). Where it is metric the numbers will normally be in the 100’s.

There will be either 2 or 3 numbers.

2 Numbers – Where it is only 2 numbers, for example 7.00 x 12, then this is the tyre width (7.00) and rim (12). In this example the measurements are in inches.

3 Numbers – When it is 3 numbers, for example 21 x 7 x 15, then the height is 21, the width 7 and the rim 15.

Rim – Sometimes there will be a second set of numbers including the word “RIM”. This is the rim fitment size and should be stated when replacing.

Ply Rating or PR – If a ply rating is shown then this indicates how much load the tyre can take.

Chart showing the dimensions of the different forklift truck tyre sizes
Forklift Truck Tyre Size Chart

| How to Choose the Right Tyres for Your Forklift

When purchasing replacement forklift tyres it is advisable to purchase like for like, if the application isn’t changing. If you are purchasing a new or used forklift, then you will need to consider the application it will be used in:

  • Always consider the work environment where the forklift will be driven.If the operation is indoor and in the smooth floor surface, cushion tyre could be the right one for the application.  If the forklift will be driven outdoor in rough and uneven terrain, commonly, the pneumatic or solid pneumatic tyres as they give better traction and stability in this kind of application.


  • In a warehouse application and storage facility, polyurethane tyres are typically the best type.In a warehouse that utilizes electric order pickers, polyurethane tyres are the ones to be installed because they significantly improve the battery life of the truck during operation. The same applies in cold storage or in an environment with a wet floor surface, polyurethane gives better traction and stability.


  • In groceries and in food handling work environment where hygiene is important, non-marking tyres are often required to be installed on the truck. Standard tyres produce dust particles during operation that could cause contamination of the food.


  • Cushion or pneumatic tyres can come either traction or smooth.If the workplace where the forklift will be driven in has exposure to moisture, the traction tyres are the ones suited for the application. However, in a dry environment, smooth tyres give better traction and last longer. In an outdoor application, cushion traction tyres provide better grip on the floor surface and help to lessen the possibility of tyre chunking.


  • When replacing forklift tyres, the rear and front tyres can be different but make sure that both rear tyres or front tyres are the same.The general rule is what to be installed should be the same as what to be replaced. (e.g: never install pneumatic on a truck with cushion tyres because the axles and frames are different, the pneumatic tyres will not fit correctly. Forklift frames only accept a certain tyre type, so make sure you know such specifics before buying a set of tyres).

| Forklift Tyre Manufacturers

There are numerous forklift tyre manufacturers, below is a list of some of the more well established ones:

| Summary

We can all agree that having to get a new set of forklift tyres can be a daunting task not only because it costs a large sum of money but also committing mistake in buying can have a negative impact on work efficiency and safety.

Forklift tyres have a big impact on the overall performance of the truck. It increases productivity, saves you money, and keeps the operator safe. Therefore, selecting the right tyres is important in determining how well the forklift will perform.

With this guide, we hope we enlighten you and help you make the final decision of getting a new set of tyres for your truck

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