Equipment and Solutions


RAKA Rentals Blog: Rent or Buy Forklifts

It’s the age-old question that business owners, fleet managers, warehouse owners and construction project supervisors want to know — should I buy or rent a forklift?

The simple answer is that it depends on your needs. Forklifts are an investment, so you want to ensure you make the right choice for your budget and future projects. First-time buyers should take the most consideration and deliberate the following:

  • Availability
  • Budget
  • Current operations
  • Future projects
  • Project types
  • Usage

You may be looking to expand your fleet, replace or substitute a broken machine or support a newly-signed contract that requires forklift capabilities. There are pros and cons to both buying and renting material handling equipment, so there is no right or wrong answer. The best forklift option depends on what your business requires. At RAKA, our experts are here to help you evaluate the situation, then assist you in deciding which solution will best benefit your bottom line.

Benefits of renting a forklift infographic


Purchasing a lift truck gives you two options. You can buy new or used, and deciding which is best often comes down to finances and usage. New forklifts are ready right off the assembly line with a higher upfront cost.

Used machines have a lower price point but have a great value and are typically maintained, refurbished and tested before resell. Trusting in a professional and trustworthy dealer like RAKA will ensure your used forklift meets safety regulations. Certified used material handling equipment from RAKA is a cost-effective solution for when you need a long-term forklift but buying new isn’t in the budget.

If you have several long-term projects to complete, are looking to grow your fleet or need multiple tasks completed, purchasing new or used material handling equipment makes sense.

Benefits of buying a forklift include:

  • Complete control over operations
  • Flexible availability
  • Higher return on investment
  • Less downtime
  • Tax advantages

Owning a new or used machine means you have full control over its operation. The forklift will be available to you and your drivers 24/7, which gives you freedom and flexibility. Ultimately, having a machine where and when you need it creates less downtime, helping your operations stay within deadlines. If you decide to sell down the road, you can even see a high return on investment and reap taxable deductions from the asset. Buying a forklift also allows you to invest in the latest model with superior technology.

New or used machines are ideal if you have the budget and resources to maintain and store the equipment. However, several disadvantages of having complete ownership include:

  • High upfront cost
  • Maintenance responsibilities
  • Transportation, insurance, operation, logistics and licensing fees

Yes, buying means a higher upfront cost and that more effort is required to load and unload the forklift at each job site. If your business operates in a centralized area, buying may be less challenging than if your services operate out of state.

Despite these downfalls, buying can save money in the long run. If you rely on forklift capabilities daily or weekly, you can often pay it off in several months or years.


A lift truck rental makes the most sense for your bottom line if you have short-term or seasonal projects, if you have special one-time jobs or if you want to rent before buying. Renting helps you tackle smaller tasks when necessary. You can also personalize your rental agreement to fit your needs, whether you need a forklift for several weeks or six months.

Benefits of renting a forklift include:

  • Access to latest models
  • No down payment or high upfront cost
  • No maintenance requirements

With material handling equipment rentals, you have access to more models and technology as they become available. Instead of buying the latest machine that may become obsolete in a decade, you can ensure your operators have the latest technology. You don’t have to place a large sum of money down, which allows you to remain financially flexible.

If you want to avoid maintenance and other costs or even experiment with different forklift brands and models before buying, renting is your go-to. However, downfalls of renting material handling machinery include:

  • Continual payment process
  • No 24/7 access
  • Overuse fees

While you don’t have to pay a large upfront cost like owning a machine, you can expect a continual payment that includes maintenance costs. Renting doesn’t give you access to the forklift whenever you want, which can be great for some managers and a loss for others. If you go over your rental agreement, you can also expect to see overuse fees on your bill.


Like with any piece of material handling machinery, there are both pros and cons of buying and renting forklifts. Renting can become more expensive once you surpass the cost of a new machine, while buying can be a waste of money if you don’t use the equipment often enough.

Some questions to consider before deciding include:

  • Will renting delay your jobs?
  • Are you looking to replace broken or outdated machines?
  • Will renting cost more than buying in the long run?
  • What’s your budget like?
  • What types of projects are you working on?
  • Do you have the finances and abilities to maintain and store the unit?
  • Do you require immediate and continual access to the machine?

It’s best to calculate your capabilities and expectations before investing in one solution or the other. Make sure to have a complete understanding of your current operations as well as what you want your fleet and business to look like in the future, whether that’s one, five or several more years ahead.


Whether you’re looking to rent or buy a forklift to suit your range of projects and your company’s bottom line, partnering with a reliable dealer is your first step. Our experts will help you answer the tougher questions and assist you in determining whether renting or buying a forklift is best for your operations.

Contact us online for more information or call us at 402-279-4146 to speak with a RAKA representative.

Forklift being operated in a warehouse