Should You Rent, Buy or Lease a Forklift?

Forklifts fulfill critical material handling applications each day by helping workers lift and move products and raw materials across varying applications, distances, and heights. Choosing the right forklift for your operation involves careful thought and consideration. After you determine what type of forklift you need, you still have a crucial decision to make — how to acquire the forklift.

Take time to understand the differences between renting, purchasing, and leasing.

First, consider the following factors:

  • Work Utilization: Consider how often your team will use this forklift. Will it be needed for a short-term project, or do you expect heavy demand throughout the year or even longer? Anticipating your ongoing needs will help inform your choice between renting, leasing, and purchasing.
  • Application Demand: Of course, your immediate needs will drive the majority of your consideration. But visualizing your future needs is a worthwhile exercise as well. Gather your team to discuss potential application changes that may occur over the next few years. Is there a chance you need to expand your building or move to a new facility? Do you anticipate any changes to the shape, size, or weight of the products you currently handle? While no one can future proof their business, answers to these questions should be reviewed before purchasing a forklift.

So, is it better to rent, buy or lease forklifts? Let us explore the advantages of each option so you can determine the right one for you.

Reasons to Rent

There are two major reasons to consider renting forklifts.

1. Flexibility

You can see what works best for your daily operations by renting and trying out different forklifts. Renting allows you to evaluate the equipment carefully before spending thousands of dollars. For instance, if you have a fleet of older forklift models, consider renting a newer model and track how it improves your operation.

Renting will allow you to evaluate essential considerations, such as whether the forklift will enhance operator performance and productivity and provide the operational capacity you need. You may want to try out different truck and attachment options to help you make an informed purchase decision later.

Forklift rentals can also help you save money during slow or off-seasons by eliminating monthly payments for equipment you are not using. You have the flexibility to reduce your rental costs when your need drops off and rent in bulk during peak seasons with significant inventory influxes.

2. Convenience

By making one call to your dealer rental department, you may arrange for a forklift to be delivered to your facility, within a day or two, or within hours, if you have an emergency need. Dealers like Eastern Lift Truck Co. offer prompt professional delivery services, saving you the time, expense, and hassle of transporting equipment from one location to another. This option is especially helpful if you do not have a suitable delivery vehicle or driver with the expertise to transport a forklift. The rental company will pick up your equipment and deliver it whenever and wherever you need it.

Reasons to Buy

Next, here are some of the primary reasons to consider purchasing your forklifts.

1. Cost-Effective


While renting may be practical for businesses that only need a forklift for short periods of time (measured in days or weeks), owning or leasing a forklift will provide cost savings over longer periods of time. If you require the use of a forklift for more than six months throughout the year, purchasing or leasing a unit will make more financial sense than renting.

Buying might be the right route for you if your warehouse has a steady business stream with minimal downtime. Map out your budget and determine what makes the most financial sense for your business. If your warehouse team will use the forklift steadily through its anticipated service life, a purchase should be considered.

Rental fees usually surpass monthly financing expenses, especially if you are considering a true lease without a maintenance plan. Of course, if you purchase outright, you also have the option to resell the forklift when it seems practical. To boost your ROI, you will want to crunch the numbers and determine if renting the vehicles will cost as much or more than owning them. If so, you might consider buying over renting.

Another benefit is that purchased forklifts can be eligible for tax deductions.

2. Productivity and Efficiency

There is a learning curve operating new machinery and constantly bringing in different rental forklifts may result in reduced efficiency. Owning your forklifts will allow your operators to become familiar with the features and controls, and comfortable operators tend to be safer and more productive.

3. Subjective Liability

When renting or leasing a forklift, you will be held responsible for the avoidable damage caused to the unit by your operators. If you have an especially rugged work environment it would be better to own your equipment rather than renting or leasing.

4. Customization

You can choose between new and used models when buying a forklift. Additionally, purchasing this machinery means you have total ownership of it. Unlike renting a forklift, you have the freedom to modify your own forklift as you please, as long as the changes meet OSHA standards.

You can customize your equipment to better meet your crew’s needs, fulfill applications and improve productivity. Purchasing a forklift opens the door to many personalization opportunities to benefit your team. You can build the best machine for your projects by customizing its:

  • The Latest Technology
  • Front-end Attachments
  • Ergonomic Features
  • Safety Features

Reasons to Lease

Leasing has become the most popular method to acquire a forklift. Leasing involves paying for the use of a forklift over a specific period of time. A main difference between rental and lease agreements is the duration they cover.

A rental agreement covers a flat rate for the length of time you choose — usually daily, weekly, or monthly. While dealers are able to tailor rental and leasing options to a variety of durations, lease agreements typically start at one year and extend to five or more years.

Rental payments are frequently higher than lease payments. The lease terms outline the entire use period, which cannot change once you sign it. Furthermore, a lease contract does not automatically renew.

Here are some benefits that can come with leasing a forklift.

1. Set Cycles

A lease agreement is written for a set period of time, resulting in a pre-determined date for future equipment replacement.

Individual lease cycles may be adapted to match specific applications. For example, if you have a high-cycle operation or application that results in higher-than-normal wear to your forklift, you will likely benefit from a shorter than normal lease term. Regardless of your operation, most customers enjoy having a predictable equipment replacement schedule that allows for better budget planning and less surprise expenditures.

2. Cost Savings

In many cases, leasing requires little-to-no upfront cash. It also tends to involve lower monthly payments than renting or buying, allowing you to pocket a few extra bucks for new inventory or other business expenses.

Furthermore, small monthly payments provide a fixed cost, streamlining bookkeeping, budgeting, and paperwork. These payments are also tax-deductible.

3. New Models and Features

Leasing your equipment allows you to keep a rotating stock of forklifts, letting you take advantage of the latest models and technology. Similar to purchasing, you can have these forklifts custom-built for your unique applications.

4. Flexibility

You have the flexibility to make changes when your lease term ends. You can change your equipment mix, increase, or reduce your fleet size, modify your lease terms, and make other adjustments to fit your changing needs.

Rent or Buy Forklifts From Eastern Lift Truck Co.

At Eastern Lift Truck Co., we offer plenty of options for buying, leasing and renting forklifts that suit your applications. We have 18 locations across the Mid-Atlantic region, stock high-quality new and used warehouse equipment and offer unparalleled customer service.

We aim to help every customer find the best equipment solution to streamline their operation and maximize efficiencies. Whether you choose to rent a forklift or lease or purchase a new or used unit, Eastern Lift Truck Co. is always ready to help you find the models that best align with your application and budget. We invite you to browse our selection and consider what may work best for you.

If you need assistance selecting the right model for your needs or deciding whether to buy or rent, please contact our team at any time!

Maple Shade, NJ (HQ)
549 East Linwood Avenue
Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Phone: (856) 779-8880

Have a Question? Contact Us Today!