Take a close look at your daily operations to best select this equipment.

Tire-related downtime and maintenance represents a significant portion of construction equipment operating costs. In order to reduce these costs, consider all of your needs and ask the right questions when selecting a tire handler. Also, find a manufacturer that will provide not only a great product but a system of dealers and technicians who provide financing solutions and support.

Operating Conditions
Most tire-handling trucks are deployed in difficult applications. For this reason, buyers of tire handlers should consider the environment in which the lift truck will be working on a regular basis. In some cases, a wheel loader with a tire-handling attachment might be a better option than a lift truck.

Take into account the capacity needed for the job. Most construction companies use tire-handling equipment for tires ranging from just over a ton to six tons. If your operations require a tire handler to lift near these capacities, a forklift-mounted tire handler is probably the best fit.

The capacity of the forklift is determined by the weight of the load and the distance of the load’s center of gravity from the face of the carriage or attachment. The weight of the load typically includes not only the tires, but also the wheels and, in some cases, tire chains. Therefore, a 5,000 pound-capacity lift truck rated at a 24-inch load center can lift a load that weighs 5,000 pounds and is 48 inches deep, provided the load weight is evenly distributed. Also, it is important to consider the dynamic stability of the truck as it is traveling, braking, turning, lifting and lowering.

Features and Attachments
When looking at the truck itself, consider the answers to the following questions as criteria for selecting the ideal truck:

  • When, where and how hard will the truck be operated?
  • Will the truck be a dedicated tire handler or utilized for other applications requiring different attachments?
  • What capacity is needed for tire, wheel and chains?
  • Will the truck be operated in a confined area requiring precise movements?
  • Will the attachment design be based on a fixed or variable load center?

A dedicated tire handler is designed with optimized counterweights suited for your application. Because of these special design features, it would be harder to convert the forklift for other uses, such as coil handling. On the other hand, a forklift-mounted tire handler designed for multiple uses will have less-optimized counterweights but will be suited for a greater range of functionality.

Also, consider the tire handler body rotation capability, which is the degree of rotation of which the tire handler is capable around the base plate integrated into the masts. The grab pad rotation capability, which typically ranges from 120 to 360 degrees, is another aspect to consider.

Many tire handlers come with features designed to maximize visibility and productivity and decrease maintenance time. These features include high-visibility two-stage mast designs for tire-handling applications and a hydrostatic steer axle that provides durability and steering control. Other features like proportional control tire attachment body rotation actuation and speed limitation of the engine enhance lift truck tire life and can help decrease downtime and maintenance.

Most tire handlers are optimized for additional counterweights, depending on the application, while retaining rearward visibility. In some instances, solid tires can be used as additional counterweights.

Measurement and Tracking
It is crucial to accurately measure the usage of the tire handler to see if and where fleet optimization improvements should be made. Having a system in place to analyze the cost of operational downtime and measure annual operating hours will provide information necessary to increase efficiency. Annual fuel consumption, maintenance and service costs should also be tracked.

Some manufacturers will provide a monitoring system as part of their fleet service offerings. For example, when first working with a customer on their fleet, the manufacturer might analyze the current fleet operations, measure productivity and see where improvement is needed. Afterward, they will provide a summary of the customer’s fleet history and present a cost-effective proposal for replacement of the trucks, as well as scheduled maintenance recommendations. After the initial review, the manufacturer or servicing dealer will continue to monitor the fleet and adjust the maintenance or replacement schedule based on the plan decided by the customer.

Leasing Options
Tire-handling truck leasing and financing options can accommodate various budget types and financial plans. Make sure that your manufacturer has financial options that are structured to conserve existing lines of credit and work around budget constraints. In general, some of the more common financial services are fair market value, stated purchase option and full payout.

Fair market value is an operating lease that does not consider a full payout of the cost of the equipment at the end of the lease term. Typically, the lessee either returns the equipment at the end of the lease term or is granted the opportunity to purchase the equipment at fair market value.

Stated purchase option is available for short-term, cash customers with temporary budget constraints. The lease terms are similar to the fair market value option, except that the residual values of the equipment are determined at the onset of the lease. The payments tend to be a little higher than the fair market value option for that reason.

Full payout is an option available for all cash customers. Several end-of-term options are available, including purchasing the machine at fair market value or surrendering the equipment at the end of the lease. Another possible arrangement is to refinance the asset at the end of the original term and extend lease term agreements with discounts as a possible added incentive.

When it comes to maintenance, tire handlers are less challenging than the typical lift truck to maintain. Tire handlers normally average fewer operating hours than a typical truck and can be optimized for high utilization without much downtime when operated as dedicated machines. At the same time, a truck that is designed to operate with other attachments in other applications is more challenging to maintain and keep at a high level of utilization, so understanding the expectations for the equipment up front can save maintenance time and costs. All other maintenance schedules for a lift truck should also be followed for tire-handling lift trucks.

Authorized Dealer Service
Your relationship with the manufacturer shouldn’t stop after the purchase is made. Various manufacturers offer programs and services through their authorized dealer networks to help keep your operations running at full speed. A close relationship with the manufacturer and local authorized dealer is crucial for counsel, education and training, along with other services like parts replacement and monitoring programs.

Maintenance is often conducted by a third-party service contractor. This party is typically able to provide the technical service training and support needed to augment the service provided by the manufacturer. Nevertheless, it’s important to be partnered with a manufacturer and local dealer that is able to help meet your needs, whether it’s assistance in managing the fleet or replacing parts and maintaining the tire-handling truck.

Features to look for in your manufacturer when selecting a tire handler include the following:

  • Fleet services and performance monitoring
  • Parts replacement program
  • Rental options
  • Financing options
  • Special applications engineering
  • Operator and service training


Taking the time to review such features before selecting and purchasing a tire handler will help ensure not only that the equipment will meet your application requirements but also that you will achieve greater operational productivity and profitability.