Forklift Classes 1-7

The 7 Classes of Forklifts

There are seven classes of forklifts, and each forklift operator must be certified to use each class of truck that they will operate. Classification depends on factors such as applications, fuel options, and features of the forklift. Knowing the difference between them can help you decide on which one to get, whether you decide to lease, rent or buy your next forklift.

Class 1: Electric Motor Rider Trucks

These forklifts can be equipped with either cushion or pneumatic tires. The cushion-tired lift trucks are intended for indoor use on smooth floors. The pneumatic-tired models can be used in dry, outdoor applications.
These vehicles are powered by industrial batteries and use transistor motor controllers to control travel and hoist functions. They are very versatile and are found from the loading dock to the storage facility. They are generally used in applications where air quality needs to be considered.

Class 1 Forklift
Counterbalanced Rider Type, Stand Up
Class I Forklift
Three Wheel Electric Trucks, Sit Down
Class I Forklift
Counterbalanced Rider, Cushion Tires, Sit Down
Class I Forklift
Counterbalanced Rider, Pneumatic or Either Tire Type, Sit Down

Class 2: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks

This forklift is for companies that opt for very narrow aisle operation. This allows them to maximize the use of storage space. These vehicles have unique features that are designed to minimize the space occupied by the truck and to improve speed and efficiency.

Forklift Class II
High Lift Straddle
Forklift Class II
Order Picker
Forklift Class II
Reach Type Outrigger
Forklift Class II
Side Loaders: Platforms
Forklift Class II
Side Loaders: High Lift Pallet
Forklift Class II
Turret Trucks
Forklift Class II
Low Lift Platform
Forklift Class II
Low Lift Pallet

Class 3: Electric Motor Hand or Hand-Rider Trucks

These are hand-controlled forklifts, meaning the operator is in front of the truck and controls the lift through a steering tiller. All controls are mounted on the top of the tiller, and the operator moves the tiller from side to side to steer the truck. These vehicles are battery-powered, and the smaller capacity units use industrial batteries.

Forklift Class III
Low Lift Platform
Forklift Class III
Low Lift Walkie Pallet
Forklift Class III
Tractors
Forklift Class III
Low Lift Walkie/Center Control
Forklift Class III
Reach Type Outrigger
Forklift Class III
High Lift Straddle
Forklift Class III
Single Face Pallet
Forklift Class III
High Lift Platform
Forklift Class III
High Lift Counterbalanced
Forklift Class III
Low Lift Walkie/Rider Pallet and End Control

Class 4: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks - Cushion Tires

These forklifts are used inside on smooth dry floors for transporting palletized loads to and from the loading dock and the storage area. The cushion-tired forklifts are lower to the ground than forklift trucks with pneumatic tires. Because of that, these forklift trucks can be useful in low-clearance applications.

Forklift Class IV
Fork, Counterbalanced (Cushion Tire)

Class 5: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks - Pneumatic Tires

These trucks are most commonly seen in warehouses. They can be used either inside or outside for virtually any type of application. Because of the large capacity range of this series of lift truck, they can be found handling small single pallet loads to loaded 40-foot containers.
These lift trucks can be powered by internal combustion engines and are available for use with LPG, gasoline, diesel, and compressed natural gas fuel systems.

Forklift Class V
Fork, Counterbalanced (Pneumatic Tire)

Class 6: Electric or Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

These vehicles are versatile and can be used in a variety of applications. They can be equipped with either internal combustion engines for outdoor use or battery-powered electric motors for indoor use.

Forklift Class VI
Sit Down Rider (Draw Bar Pull Over 999 lbs)

Class 7: Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks

Rough terrain forklifts are fitted with large floatation tires for outdoor use on difficult surfaces. They are often used at construction sites to transport and lift building materials to various job site locations. They are also common with lumber yards and auto recyclers.

Forklift Class VII
This is an example of a portable self-propelled rough terrain forklift that is typically transported to the job site. It is mounted on a carrier to the back of a truck/trailer and is used to unload heavy items from the truck/trailer at the job site. Note that not all truck/trailer mounted forklifts are rough terrain forklifts.
Forklift Class VII
This is an example of a ruggedly constructed forklift and is designed to be used primarily outdoors.
Forklift Class VII
This is an example of a vehicle equipped with a telescoping boom, which enables it to pick and place loads at various distances and lift heights in front of the machine. The ability to reach out in front of the forklift allows the operator flexibility in the placement of a load.