How Do Propane Forklifts Work?

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Learn how the pistons of a propane forklift work and what helps the forklift to raise heavy objects make tight turns.

The Mechanism of a Propane Forklift

As their name suggests, the engines of propane forklifts are powered by propane gas stored in a pressurized tank that can be refilled easily. The propane engine of a used forklift for sale works pretty much the same way as a gasoline engine, except for the fact that it uses propane gas. The gas is pushed into the engine where it depressurizes and is converted into vapor. A throttle controls the flow of vapor.

Inside the engine, the vapor mixes with air and is ignited by a spark plug, which creates pressure that moves pistons and creates power. The power helps to turn the wheels and run the hydraulic pump of the forklift. Propane gas is eco-friendly and therefore safe to use inside warehouses and other workplaces. Propane forklifts produce minimal emissions, which helps to minimize pollution.


Propane forklifts are considered effective when they lift and move heavy objects. This is achieved with the help of hydraulics. The components of a hydraulic system of a propane forklift include a pump, tubing, and a cylinder. In addition, the system is filled with a dense fluid. Activating the pump forces the fluid through the tubing and into the cylinders. The force of the fluid pushes the pistons just as squeezing a bottle of water can force its top off. Moving pistons raise the forks of the forklift, which allows big objects to be picked up with ease. Lowering the forks reverses the process of the hydraulic fluid movement out of the cylinders and into the pump.


Many companies use forklifts in warehouses where space may be limited. The steering system of a propane forklift is designed to make it maneuverable and manageable. A user controls the propane forklift using a steering wheel. However, unlike automobiles, forklifts use the rear wheels for turning. This means that turning the steering wheel right causes the rear wheels to turn left allowing the forklift to turn on a very tight radius.