how to drive forklift

How To Drive Forklift: Step by Step

Now that you have a forklift, you’re wondering, how to drive a forklift?

In this article we will explain to you how to operate your forklift properly. Worry not because it will be just a simple short brief for you.

Let’s start the engine.

How to Drive a Forklift?

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To drive a forklift safely is a tough task due to the fact that it is more likely to tip over and harder to steer compared to driving a car.

With enough practice on driving and handling the forklift, lifting and carrying heavy loads will be not so difficult for you.

However, before you drive a forklift, please check with your country’s department of health and safety to see if you need an operator’s certification

These are the fundamental methods for your reference before driving a forklift. Firstly, perform the basic operations:

  • Climb into the forklift and buckle the seatbelt.

Enter the forklift from the left side and grab the handhold near the front of the cab with one hand and the other hand place it at the back of the seat.

To lift yourself up into the seat, put your foot on the step. Buckle your seatbelt once you’re seated.

There are some things that you should not do while performing this first step. 

Remember not to grab the steering wheel while climbing up. If you’re standing on a forklift, make sure to put on the safety harnesses once you’re inside.

  • Turn the key to start the forklift

Under the left side of the steering wheel, you should be able to find the shifter level.

If the lever is in the centre position, it means it’s in neutral. Hence, please ensure that it is in the centre position.

Next, you may locate the emergency brake lever on the left side of the machine. Make sure it’s pulled down and activated.

To start the forklift’s engine, put the key into the ignition on the right side of the steering column and turn it forward.

  • Lift the fork up by 2-4 in (5.1-10.2cm)

You should know that your forklift should either have 1 or 2 black levers which control the height.

Located on the right of the steering wheel is the tilt of the fork.

To ensure that nothing will scrape the ground while you’re driving, pull the lever to raise the fork 2 tines off the ground by 2-4 in (5.1-10.2cm).

You may also tilt the tines backward to raise them even further if you wish to do so.

It is important to note that each forklift operates differently. So, before you start operating any of the levers, please look at the forklift manual to know their functions.

  • Depress the brake on the left of the accelerator pedal before releasing the emergency brake

Using your right foot, press the brake pedal before pushing the lever for the parking brake forward.

The machine may move if you don’t keep your foot on the brake.

When you start driving, make sure that there is no one around within 10 feet (3.0m).

  • Use the shifter to change the direction you’re driving

To drive, push the shifter forward. In order to go in reverse, pull it back.

Again, while you shift, keep your foot on the brake pedal so you don’t move around.

Put the shifter back into the middle position to change it into neutral whenever you are stopped.

  • Press on the accelerator to move

Just like inside of a car, the accelerator is located under the steering wheel on the right.

To start moving, lightly press the accelerator using your right foot.

At first, maintain driving at a low speed until you’re used to handling the machine.

When you need to reverse, please ensure that you know where you’re going.

Check the machine’s manual to check what type of forklift you’re driving.

Remember that some forklifts have a forward and reverse pedal.

  • Honk your horn when passing through busy areas

Similar to a car horn, the button is placed in the centre of the steering wheel. 

This is important when driving in a tight area with frequent traffic. You may use the horn to notify others that you’re passing through.

Whenever you come to an intersection, honk the horn so people will know you’re passing by.

  • Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go while you’re driving

To control it better, grab the knob on top of the steering wheel.

Spin the wheel in the direction that you would want to turn. To make a turn at a sharp angle, wait until the back of the times reaches the corner before starting your turn.

Do’s and Don’ts When Handling Forklift

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Before you get started follow these do’s and don’ts!


  • Read Forklift Safety Rules

Get familiar with the rules, things can go wrong if you refuse to read the instructions that are important.

Through reading, you will know  for example what is the proper attire to drive a forklift.

  • Ensure Forklift is Safe to Operate

Do all the necessary checks before you start operating.

Check its tires for wear and look around the forklift for any oil leaks. 

Take a look at the coolant, engine oil, and transmission fluid levels before you get started.

Don’t forget the brakes, steering, and controls, make sure they’re functional.

  • Practice

Unlike most cars, forklifts are steered by rear wheels.

Hence, practice is key to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Certification should come with training, which means supervised practice.

  • Use Designated Roadways

Use approved roadways designated by your workplace.

Some undesignated roadways surfaces are not forklift-friendly. So, this may put yourself and others in danger.


  • Operate a Forklift Without Certification

You need to be certified before you can start driving.

To get certified, you will have to through training which will be beneficial to you when driving a forklift.

  • Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Check your prescription information to see if there is a warning about operating machinery while taking that prescription.

  • Lift Your Load Too High

If you are carrying a heavy load, you will want to make sure that the load is secure beyond the tip of the forks.

Proper load balancing is imperative to driving a forklift safely. If you lift a load too high, you can cause the forklift to tip over.

To conclude, driving forklifts is not as easy as it seems. However, with proper training, you will get the idea on how to drive forklifts as easy as 1-2-3.

Are you looking for forklifts to rent? Nishio Rent All (M) Sdn Bhd is a company that specializes in forklift, construction equipment and industry 4.0 service.

Based in Shah Alam, Selangor, this company has been successful all these years.

Our support team has an extensive knowledge base in offering customers the optimum solution. 

Why Rent Forklift with Nishio?

  • Resourceful

Skilled and experienced staff to serve you 32 mechanics and 10 sales executives 5 service locations nationwide.

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5 Workshop Nationwide selangor, Penang , Johor, Terengganu and Sarawak Anywhere you are at, we are always reachable.

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We have been growing with our customers for 28 years in Malaysia 60 years globally

To understand in detail about our services and how we can assist you, please do not hesitate to contact us now.

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