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Guide to Choosing the Right Forklift Tires: Pneumatic vs. Cushion

PennWest Industrial Trucks

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Published on Jul 19, 2019
When it comes to buying or leasing a forklift, most people are primarily concerned with the lifting height and capacity. The type of tire on the forklift is often overlooked. When properly maintained, your forklift tires can reduce fuel consumption, increase safety in the workplace and improve productivity.
When choosing the right tire for your forklift, the most common options are pneumatic forklift tires or cushion forklift tires. These two types of tires have significant differences between them that should be considered when evaluating which works best for your application. Cushion tire and pneumatic tire forklifts have different frames, so you cannot simply change from cushion to pneumatic tires if your application changes.

“The majority of forklifts are designed for a particular tire and tires are designed for specific applications or industries and cannot be swapped out, so understanding the difference is key.”

Pneumatic tires are available in either solid or air. Solid pneumatic tires are great in flat surface indoor/outdoor heavy duty environments. They are made of solid rubber and are essentially puncture proof. Air pneumatic tires are ideal on rough and uneven surfaces as they provide more suspension and a softer ride than solid pneumatics. But they are more susceptible to puncture. Foam filling can done to help prevent flat tires when using air pneumatics in areas where your forklift is moving through nails or other sharp objects.

“Pneumatic tires are very versatile, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The have excellent traction and higher ground clearance which makes them ideal for uneven surfaces and heavy duty applications such as lumber yards, agriculture, forging, ports, and construction.”

Cushion tires are made of solid rubber molded to a steel band. The rubber can either be traction or smooth. These tires are very durable and are best suited for indoor or light outdoor use on smooth surfaces. Most commonly, cushion tires are specified for indoor work in manufacturing facilities, warehouses and distribution centers. They also help with handling in smaller spaces, as they have a smaller turning radius.
Before you make your initial forklift purchase, decide whether a pneumatic or cushion tire forklift is best for you. Start by determining how the forklift will be used. Consider your capacity and any multi-use functions. Then, consider space constraints and application; will it be used inside or out, or both? Will it be used on smooth or uneven terrain?
Purchasing a forklift doesn’t have to feel daunting. PennWest has material handling equipment experts available to work closely with you to determine the best solution for your need. You know your industry, we know forklifts.
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