Wondering what forklift tire size and type you need to optimize your material handling operation? From rough-terrain pneumatic tires to indoor cushion options, ideal tire type and size varies based on several factors, including:
- Production Sensitivity
Understanding these main factors – and more – will help you determine the type of forklift tire that will help maximize productivity and optimize workflows for increased uptime on your jobsite. Read on to find out which forklift tire option is best for you and your business.
PNEUMATIC FORKLIFT TIRES
Pneumatic forklift tires can be used for indoor and outdoor jobs, depending on the material. The pneumatic options have thicker tread than cushion tires, which offers stability and durability on uneven surfaces.
Air Pneumatic Tires
Air pneumatic forklift tires are the material handling option that most closely resembles car tires. They are filled with air and offer thick, durable treading, which is ideal for both indoor or outdoor applications. Because pneumatic tires are wider and longer than their cushion counterparts, they are more suitable than cushion variations to outdoor environments, as they can easily absorb uneven ground.
Use air pneumatic tires for:
- Jobs that require a transition from indoor to outdoor heavy equipment use
- Multi-use and versatile jobs on gravel, small rocks or other uneven outdoor sites
- Heavy-load & high-capacity projects
- Uses requiring a sturdy, shock-absorbing ride
Solid Pneumatic Tires
Made from solid rubber, pneumatic forklift tires won’t be easily punctured by jobsite debris like metal or nails. Their powerful durability is best applied in outdoor environments, like recycling centers or lumber yards, due to their ability to tackle rough terrain. While they usually cost more than air pneumatic tires, the solid pneumatic option makes up for it with a long lifespan and maximized productivity in tough job sites.
Use Solid Pneumatic Tires for:
- Recycling plants
- Agricultural job sites
- Airport loading sites
- Oil, gas & mining sites
- Other rough terrain applications
CUSHION FORKLIFT TIRES
Formed from solid rubber molded to a steel band, cushion tires are ideal for smooth, indoor surfaces, like you’d find in a warehouse. This option is often more cost-effective and sustainable than pneumatic variations, as they require less manufacturing material and labor.
Cushion tire forklifts work well in compact warehouse areas in which small tires and low ground clearance are required.
Use cushion tires for:
- Indoor warehouses & other indoor job sites with smooth flooring
- Compact spaces requiring low ground clearance
- Smaller forklift frames
- Navigating narrow aisles
SPECIALTY FORKLIFT TIRES
Non-Marking Forklift Tires
Non-marking forklift tires help you avoid leaving black marks and stains on your warehouse floor. You can customize pneumatic, solid, and cushion tire types to be non-marking when the situation demands it. Traditional tires can be converted to non-marking tires, which may be used in an array of indoor and outdoor warehouse settings when needed.
Designed without carbon black, non-marking options are also the ideal solution in sensitive applications like food and paper production, as they avoid cross-contamination with the carbon dust.
Use non-marking tires for:
- Warehouses where you want to avoid leaving black marks on the floor
- Food storage & packaging operations
- Paper production sites
- Other job-sites in which operators need to avoid cross-contamination
Polyurethane Forklift Tires
Polyurethane tires are made with a light-weight press-on design that resists splitting under light warehouse loads. When used properly – for light application, indoor warehouse projects, and stock picking jobs – polyurethane tires can see up to twice the lifespan of rubber tires.
Use polyurethane tires for:
- Lightweight warehouse jobs
- Electric forklifts (which minimize rolling resistance)
- Longer-lasting wear and tear
- Warehouses requiring chemical resistance
FORKLIFT TIRE SIZE GUIDE
Regardless of the type of tire you choose, you can find your recommended size in your owner’s manual, or often on the sidewall of the tire. It’s important to note that press-on and pneumatic tires record their dimensions differently.
Press-on dimensions are listed as:
“Height of the Outer Diameter x Width x Rim Inside Diameter,”
while pneumatic dimensions are listed as:
“Width x Rim Inside Diameter.”
For example, if you’re searching for a 21-inch tall cushion forklift tire, it would be listed as “21 x 7 x 15.” Alternatively, a 14-inch wide pneumatic tire would be listed “14 x 24.”
Your forklift wheels and frame are usually designed for either pneumatic or cushion options and can rarely accommodate the other types. While you can put traction tires on the rear wheels of your forklift and soft tires on the front wheels, they must be all cushion or all pneumatic.
Additionally, while the front and back tires can differ, you want to make sure that both the front pair and back pair are the same type, respectively. That way, you’ll avoid damaging the steering and axle components of your machine.
For a comprehensive maintenance and replacement explanation, check out our forklift tire wear guide.
Now that you’ve learned about the applications for different forklift tire types and sizes, you’re fully equipped to choose the best tires for your operation. Contact our product support team to verify and order the correct tire type and size for your forklift at your nearest Papé Material Handling location.
If you’ve decided on the tire type that would work best for your industry, but you need new equipment to fit the job, our sales team can assist with that, too. We’ll help you find a new forklift that better suits your operation.