Is Driving a Forklift Similar to Driving a Car?


Are you wondering whether driving a forklift is similar to driving a car? If yes, you should click here for the key things to know.

Here at Did You Know Cars, we’re always excited to test drive a new car. Or anything with four wheels and a steering wheel really.

Call it curiosity, instinct, or whatever. If it looks like a car, it’s hard to resist the temptation of getting behind the wheel. If you’re reading this, you’re probably the same as us.

What about driving a forklift though?

Of course, it wouldn’t be for recreational purposes but if someone said, “can you drive that?”, what would your answer be? Do you think it would be the same as driving a car?

We’re not talking about operating a forklift, you need to be certified for that. Just pure driving. If you think it’s going to be as easy as driving a sedan, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Here are the reasons why forklift driving is fundamentally different from car driving.

Rear-Wheel Steering

If it’s your first time on the seat of a forklift, rear-wheel steering is going to confuse your driving muscle memory.

Rear-wheel steering is a defining feature of most forklifts. If you’re buying a forklift, you should always ask about the technical specifications before purchase. Tip: You can check out to see what we mean.

Forklifts have steering on the rear wheels for two main reasons. The first is that the front wheels bear the weight of whatever cargo is on the lift. It’s easier and makes more sense for the steering to be on the rear wheels.

The second reason is that rear-wheel steering allows for more precision turning. This is very useful in a warehouse environment that has narrow and tight areas.

With that said, rear-wheel steering takes a lot of time to get used to. The rear-end swing when turning can surprise a novice driver and cause accidents if not careful.

When Driving a Forklift, Your View Is Obstructed

Is it hard to drive a forklift? Imagine driving while you have zero front visibility most of the time!

Your view is already partially obstructed by the lift mechanism at the front, even without a load. If you have a large cargo in front, then there’s no way that you can drive in a forward direction. This is why forklift operators spend a lot of time driving in reverse.

A Forklift Isn’t as Responsive as a Car

While rear-wheel steering allows for maneuvering in tighter spaces, it’s nowhere near as responsive as driving a car. As we mentioned, the big rear-end swing makes turning very challenging. This is because the heavy counterweight can swing out behind the forklift.

You also can’t take turns too quickly because the center of gravity is higher in forklifts, especially if it’s carrying a load. It’s easy for a forklift to tip over if you don’t control your speed when turning.

Going downhill is also a scary proposition for forklift drivers. A forklift, with or without cargo, is a heavy piece of machinery. Any change in weight distribution while driving down a slope could make you lose control of the forklift or your load.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

When it comes to driving something new, we get it. However, if it’s driving a forklift, don’t even try unless you have training or you’re under supervision from a trainer.

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