Equipment and Solutions

Guide to the 7 Classes of Forklifts

Guide to the 7 Classes of Forklifts

There are seven classes of forklifts currently on the market, with each having different features and capabilities that make it more suitable for specific applications. The experts at RAKA are here to help you understand what you need to know about the recognized forklift classes, explained in detail to help you determine which will best suit your needs.

What Are the Different Forklift Classes?

There are many types of forklifts available today, including electric, internal combustion (IC), reach trucks, order pickers and more. Forklift classes are decided based on features, capabilities and design, with each class aligning with the typical application for a piece of equipment. Dividing forklifts into these categories helps fleet managers decide which one best suits their operational needs. 

Knowing the basics of the different classifications of lift trucks allows you to make an informed decision before making an investment. With this guide and our forklift classification chart, you can learn what you need to know about forklift classes so you can buy or rent one with confidence.

Class 1: Electric Motor Rider Trucks

Forklifts in the class 1 category run on electric motors rather than fossil fuels, meaning they will provide savings on fuel expenses. Their tires can either be pneumatic or cushion style to accommodate indoor or outdoor use. Electric motor rider trucks usually have three or four wheels.

Often, you will find this forklift in areas concerned with air quality, such as warehouses. You can use these forklifts for tasks such as:

  • Moving pallets
  • Unloading trucks

Class 2: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks

Class 2 forklifts also feature electric motors for minimal emissions, and they work well for jobs in confined spaces. Many of the forklifts in this class are compatible with versatile attachments for specialized jobs. With their narrow design and low-profile solid cushion tires, class 2 forklifts increase efficiency and storage space. 

Some common applications for Class 2 forklifts include:

  • Lifting and shelving inventory
  • Handling pallets

Class 3: Electric Motor or Hand/Rider Trucks

Forklifts in class 3 are hand-controlled, meaning the operator moves the lift using the steering tiller. All forklifts in class 3 run on batteries, and there are walk-behind and ride-on versions available. Class 3 forklifts primarily suit indoor applications since they do not lift high off the ground.

You will typically use class 3 forklifts for:

  • Moving product to staging areas
  • Unloading trucks
  • Transporting items to the retail floor

Class 4: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks With Cushion Tires

Class 4 forklifts have puncture-resistant cushion tires. Unlike the previous classes, this ride-on equipment runs on gasoline, liquid propane (LP) gas, compressed natural gas or diesel. Class 4 forklifts sit low to the ground and work well for indoor applications, especially in areas with low clearance.

Some ways to use class 4 forklifts include:

  • Transporting items from the dock to storage
  • Work in distribution centers, warehouses or retail
  • Moving products in the automotive industry

Class 5: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks With Pneumatic Tires

Since class 5 forklifts have pneumatic tires, you can use them inside or outside. The engine on this equipment is also powered by LP gas, compressed natural gas, diesel or gasoline. These forklifts are incredibly versatile and can lift large amounts of material. Apart from their air-filled tires, class 5 forklifts are very similar to those in class 4.

You can use class 5 forklifts in multiple ways, including:

  • Transporting materials at lumberyards
  • Moving items at construction sites
  • Unloading containers
  • Carrying materials at stone yards

Class 6: Electronic and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

Class 6 forklifts can have either an electric, battery-powered or internal combustion motor. You can use class 6 forklifts in numerous indoor and outdoor applications. Typically, these material handlers serve for towing rather than lifting materials, as they lack the characteristic mast that distinguishes the typical forklift. You may hear class 6 forklifts referred to as “tuggers.” 

You can find these forklifts in several areas, such as:

  • Towing luggage carts at airports
  • Moving items in assembly lines

Class 7: Rough Terrain Forklift Truck

Class 7 forklifts are for heavy-duty jobs, as their tires are more tractor-like than those of any of the other classes. Rough terrain forklifts are almost always diesel-powered, and they come in both two- and four-wheel drive. 

The specialized tires allow this forklift to work well in outdoor applications and harsh environments. Rough terrain forklifts also have multiple types of masts and are capable of transporting heavy materials on uneven terrain. You will need specialized training to operate a class 7 forklift.

Areas where you will find class 7 forklifts include:

  • Auto recyclers
  • Construction sites
  • Lumberyards
  • Agriculture and farming

Forklifts Available at RAKA

At RAKA, we understand the importance of finding the forklift that works best for your application. We carry equipment from several of these classes to ensure you can find the model you need to get the job done. The forklifts we have available include:

RAKA carries the forklifts you need for any application. Our complete inventory is available online, featuring several reliable, well-known brands. Choose the one you can use most effectively based on the classes of forklifts explained above or reach out to our expert team for further assistance.

Contact RAKA to Learn More About Our Forklift Inventory

Our knowledgeable sales team can help you find a dependable forklift designed for your application. We also provide service and maintenance when you need to keep your machines running, helping you keep downtime to a minimum. If you need forklift safety training, we can assist with that too. With our warranty and insurance programs, you can rest assured that your machines will receive exceptional care.

See what new and rented forklifts from RAKA can do for your business. Contact us online today for more information about our current inventory and lift truck services. 

Contact RAKA to Learn More About Our Forklift Inventory