Best Hydraulic Oil For Forklifts in 2024

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This is our review of the best hydraulic oils for forklifts in 2024.

Making the right choice of hydraulic oil for your forklift is crucial. 

Otherwise, you can experience consequences like long-term system damage. This can cause more downtime, higher costs, and shorter equipment lifespans.

To help you, we researched the best forklift hydraulic oils.

We found Smitty’s Supply Super S AW 32 to be the top choice.

But forklift hydraulic oil needs vary. So, we’ve reviewed other oils designed to meet different forklift specifications.

Let’s get started.

Best Budget Option

Warren Distribution ISO 32 Light Oil

Anti-wear

Easy flow

Quality packaging

Best Overall

Smitty’s Supply Super S AW 32 Oil

Ash-free

Odor-free

Cold/warm temperatures

Best Premium

Starfire AW 32 Hydraulic Oil

Anti-wear

Thermal resistant

Small business

Our Best Hydraulic Oils for Forklifts

  1. Smitty’s Supply Super S AW 32 (Best ISO VG 32 Hydraulic Oil for Forklifts Overall)
  2. Hapco Products Co. Hydraulic Oil
  3. Starfire Starfire AW 32
  4. Warren Distribution MAG 1 AW 32
  5. Ultra1Plus AW-68 Hydraulic Fluid (Best ISO VG 68 Hydraulic Oil for Forklifts Overall)
  6. Warren Distribution ISO 32 Light Hydraulic Fluid (Best Cheap Hydraulic Oil for Forklifts)
  7. Advantage Distributing Duragard Arctic Blue (Best Winter Hydraulic Oil for Forklifts)
  8. Stens Shield Hydraulic Fluid
  9. BP/Castrol Blue Hydraulic Plus (Best Hydraulic Oil for Leak Detection in Forklifts)
  10. Valvoline AW 32 Hydraulic Fluid

10 Best Hydraulic Oils for Forklifts Reviewed

Below are my top recommendations for forklift hydraulic oils. Always consult the manufacturer or owner’s manual to determine your forklift’s hydraulic oil needs. The wrong oil can cause damage.


Smitty’s Supply Super S AW 32

  • Manufacturer: Smitty’s Supply
  • Grade: ISO VG 32
  • Size: 1 gallon
  • Rating: 4.7

Smitty’s Supply Super S Hydraulic Oil is an AW 32 hydraulic oil with a high rating based on over 450 reviewers. Smitty promotes this oil as free from ash-forming elements like silicon and zinc. 

It also has standard additives to help reduce wear on hydraulic system parts. These include anti-wear, corrosion protection, water separation, anti-foam, and rust protection. Moreover, the oil is compatible with most mineral-based hydraulic fluids. 

Users like its low toxicity and lack of bad smell. They also appreciate that it works well in both summer and winter. Additionally, they say it offers good value for its price. 

However, some users have raised issues with the packaging. There have also been cases where the oil leaked out of the box during delivery.

Hapco Products Hydraulic Oil

  • Manufacturer: Hapco Products Co.
  • Grade: ISO VG 32
  • Size: Various
  • Rating: 4.8

This oil has an AW ISO 32 viscosity grade. It also includes standard additives found in hydraulic oils. For example, substances to reduce sludge buildup, corrosion, and wear in hydraulic systems. 

Additionally, this oil is wax-free and offers heat stability at numerous operating temperatures. 

Users on Amazon have given it very high ratings. They’ve noted their appreciation for its compatibility with all original equipment fluids. They’ve also commented on its reasonable price and fast delivery. 

One user even shared that his pallet jack operates like new again after adding Hapco’s hydraulic oil.

Starfire AW 32

  • Manufacturer: Starfire
  • Grade: ISO VG 32
  • Size: 5 gallons
  • Rating: 4.6

This product stands out because it comes from Starfire, a small business brand. By choosing it, you support a small business. 

Like the other oils in our list, Starfire’s AW 32 oil has additives for hydraulic system protection. These range from anti-wear, rust, and oxidation substances to those boosting resistance to thermal breakdown and foaming. It also has water-separating features.

Users have highlighted several positives about this product. They appreciate its affordability, especially for a 5-gallon container. They also value its fast delivery. 

However, one user reported that their shipment arrived leaking. Additionally, there have been mixed experiences with foaming, with some users facing issues and others who did not.

Warren Distribution MAG 1 AW 32

  • Manufacturer: Warren Distribution
  • Grade: ISO VG 32
  • Size: 1 gallon
  • Rating: 4.7

This hydraulic oil contains standard additives found in other hydraulic oils. For example, anti-wear properties, rust and corrosion protection, and water resistance. Mag 1 AW 32 also resists thermal breakdown. This feature allows it to perform well at higher operating temperatures. 

Moreover, this oil forms a friction-reducing film that prevents metal parts in the hydraulic system from contacting each other. This helps reduce wear and tear, promoting longevity.

Mag 1 AW 32 is liked by users, with over 100 Amazon. Purchasers appreciated this product for its quality packaging. Some also enjoyed its fast shipping, though others complained that they waited two weeks for delivery.

Ultra1Plus AW-68 Hydraulic Fluid

  • Manufacturer: Ultra1Plus
  • Grade: ISO VG 68
  • Size: Various
  • Rating: 4.6

The Ultra1Plus AW-68 hydraulic fluid is made in Houston, TX. This oil includes standard additives from reputable companies such as Chevron Oronite. For instance, it has water-separating properties, oxidation stability, and corrosion protection. It also promises good filterability for less maintenance due to clogged filters. 

The maker of Ultra1Plus notes that they use API and SAE formulas in their formulation, including base stocks from well-known refineries like ExxonMobil.

Users have expressed appreciation for several aspects of Ultra1Plus AW-68 hydraulic fluid. They’ve noted the long-lasting performance. They also like the convenience of the gallon-sized container. Additionally, they commend the quick delivery and secure packaging.

Warren Distribution ISO 32 Light Hydraulic Fluid

  • Manufacturer: Warren Distribution
  • Grade: ISO VG 32
  • Size: 2 gallons
  • Rating: 4.5

Warren Distribution’s ISO 32 Light Hydraulic Fluid is made in China and promises protection against wear and tear. For example, it claims reduced foaming, which can affect the efficiency of hydraulic systems. Furthermore, the makers say the oil offers superior performance in higher operating temperatures and pressures.

Users have generally been satisfied with this product. They especially like its affordability. Others have commented on the value the two-gallon quantity provides. They also appreciate how the oil arrives in well-designed packaging and flows easily from the container.

Advantage Distributing Duragard Arctic Blue

  • Manufacturer: Advantage Distributing, LLC
  • Grade: 10 W (ISO VG 32)
  • Size: 2.5 gallons and 5 gallons
  • Rating: 4.8

Duragard Arctic Blue is a 10-weight hydraulic oil. This equals the ISO VG 32 grade. The key feature of this oil is its suitability for severe low-temperature conditions. It also offers efficacy in high-temperature conditions. 

Additionally, this oil protects against rust, corrosion, sludge, and foam while reducing cavitation. Each of these aspects can help maintain the integrity of forklift hydraulic systems.

Moreover, users have been satisfied with this product. They particularly appreciate its pricing. They also value buying it in bulk, which can lead to cost savings.

Stens Shield Hydraulic Fluid

  • Manufacturer: Stens
  • Grade: ISO VG 46
  • Size: 1 gallon
  • Rating: 4.7

Stens Shield Hydraulic Fluid provides the same anti-wear properties standard in many other hydraulic oils. That includes rust and corrosion protection. It also features water separation abilities. 

This product has received positive reviews on Amazon. Additionally, Stens says its oil surpasses the warranty standards set by original equipment manufacturers (OEM). 

However, users of marina forklifts or any equipment that contacts bodies of water should avoid this oil. Its safety data sheet (SDS) indicates it can harm aquatic life.

BP/Castrol Blue Hydraulic Plus

  • Manufacturer: BP/Castrol
  • Grade: ISO VG 46
  • Size: 5 gallons
  • Rating: 4.9

The most noteworthy aspect of Blue Hydraulic Plus is its distinct blue dye. This coloring helps when trying to detect leaks. 

Besides this feature, Castrol’s ISO 46 viscosity grade hydraulic oil includes the standard additives found in most hydraulic oils. For example, it offers protection against corrosion and wear, even when the oil is contaminated with water. It also features oxidation stability and rust resistance properties. 

Additionally, the oil is designed to prevent sludge and varnish buildup while controlling foam effectively.

Valvoline AW 32 Hydraulic Fluid

  • Manufacturer: Valvoline
  • Grade: ISO VG 32
  • Size: 5 gallons
  • Rating: 4.6

This product is on this list because of its high user ratings and Valvoline’s long-standing reputation. Valvoline’s AW 32 hydraulic oil has common standard additives to improve performance and reduce wear. 

It also features excellent demulsibility and a high viscosity index for better performance in different temperatures. Additionally, this zinc-based oil does not contain detergents.

How to Choose the Correct Hydraulic Fluid for Your Forklift

When choosing the correct hydraulic fluid for your forklift, consider a few essential factors:

Understand Additives

Hydraulic systems for industrial equipment like forklifts can get contaminated with various substances. This contamination can lead to sludge formation and deposits inside the system. It can also cause problems with hoses, fittings, hydraulic cylinders, and housings. These issues can significantly affect performance, increase the need for maintenance, and cause damage over time.

Hydraulic oils have additives to address these problems. These include detergents and other substances. Each enhances the performance of the hydraulic oil and reduces wear on hydraulic systems. Examples include:

  • Anti-Wear Substances: These additives reduce wear on hydraulic components
  • Anti-Rust/Corrosion Agents: These protect the system from degradation
  • Anti-Foam Properties: These prevent power reductions due to foam formation
  • Anti-Thermal Additives: These help the oil resist breaking down under extreme heat
  • Water-Separating Detergents: These cause water in the oil to separate and settle out

These additives often work by binding to harmful substances in the hydraulic oil. As the oil cycles through the hydraulic system, it goes through a filter to catch these foreign substances. This filter must be changed regularly as these foreign substances can clog it. Neglecting to change the hydraulic filter can cause problems in the forklift’s hydraulic system.

Understand the Terms

The term “ISO VG” is crucial in hydraulic fluids. This stands for International Standards Organization Viscosity Grade. It’s a specification designed to ensure that people worldwide refer to the same measure when discussing viscosity, which is how easily a liquid flows.

ISO viscosity grades show how viscous a fluid is at a specified temperature. For example, consider cold butter in a pan. In this scenario, the butter doesn’t move quickly. That means it has a high viscosity grade. But when heated and melted, it flows more easily. This means warm butter has a low viscosity grade. Although other grades exist, ISO VG grades usually range from 15 to 68 for forklifts. 

The ISO viscosity grade is essential in hydraulic oils for forklifts and other equipment, as the fluid’s flow rate can significantly impact operations. For instance, fluid that’s too dense can cause sluggish operations, raise fuel costs, and strain components. Fluid that isn’t thick enough can result in weeping, as its thinness causes it to slip past connections and fittings.

Another key term in hydraulic oil is “AW.” This means “anti-wear,” which indicates that the oil contains additives like those discussed in the previous section. You’ll often see this before the viscosity grade. For instance, “ISO AW 68” refers to an ISO viscosity grade 68 hydraulic fluid with anti-wear properties.

Assess Your Settings

When choosing hydraulic oil for your forklift, it’s crucial to consider the operating conditions. This mainly includes the temperature range your forklift will encounter. You should know the lowest and the highest ambient (or outside) temperatures it might face.

These temperature factors matter because they affect the oil’s viscosity. Hydraulic oil with a higher viscosity rating, like 68, is often suitable in hotter climates. But, in colder environments, a lower-viscosity oil like AW 32 or even AW 15 may be preferable.

Check the OEM Recommendations

It’s best practice to check your forklift operator’s manual for the manufacturer’s hydraulic oil specifications before buying or adding fluid. 

This is essential because recommendations can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. They can also be different year-to-year or model-to-model within the same brand. 

Additionally, they can change based on the operating conditions. For example, some forklift makers suggest different hydraulic oil weights for low temperatures.

Also, pay attention to the volume the hydraulic tank or sump tank can hold. It’s usually given in liters or gallons. This will help you choose the correct quantity. Contact the manufacturer if the hydraulic oil type or amount isn’t specified.

Our Verdict

Forklifts need the right hydraulic oil for several reasons.

Proper hydraulic oil helps keep functions working as designed. It also helps maintain the system and lifespan while reducing costs. 

If your forklift doesn’t get the correct oil, it can lead to many problems. So, looking at your manufacturer’s guidelines is vital when assessing your own hydraulic oil needs. You can find them in the owner’s manual.

Overall, we recommend Smitty’s Supply Super S AW 32 as a high-quality hydraulic oil. It meets the specifications of most forklift manufacturers and enjoys high ratings.

FAQs About Forklift Hydraulic Oil

Is hydraulic oil the same as hydraulic fluid?

Hydraulic fluid is the umbrella term for lubricating substances, including hydraulic oil. The main difference is that hydraulic fluid is less flammable than hydraulic oil. This can make it more suitable in high-heat operating conditions. Hydraulic oil, on the other hand, is petroleum-based and flammable.

How can I check the hydraulic oil level in my forklift?

In internal combustion sit-down forklifts, you generally find the hydraulic tank under the hood, along the side of the chassis. Once you’ve located it, unscrew the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag. Then, reinsert the dipstick into the tank to check the oil level. You might need to remove panels to access the hydraulic oil level in stand-up models like order pickers or reach trucks. This may require the services of a mechanic.

Is hydraulic oil with detergent okay to use in forklifts?

Hydraulic oils with detergents are generally suitable for forklifts. That’s unless your operator’s manual says otherwise. Most hydraulic oils have detergents for specific additive qualities crucial for optimal performance. These include anti-wear, anti-corrosion, and anti-foaming substances.

What hydraulic oil do I use for my forklift?

Forklift makers generally recommend using ISO VG 32, 46, or 68 hydraulic oil with anti-wear (AW) properties. AW 32 oil works in colder temperatures, while AW 46 or 68 may be more effective in warmer temperatures. Hydraulic oil guidelines vary by the brand, type of forklift, and other factors. To select the right hydraulic oil for your forklift, consult the owner’s manual and consider the operating temperatures of your workplace.

Can you use tractor hydraulic fluid in a forklift?

Depending on their formulation, you can use certain tractor hydraulic fluids in forklifts. For instance, Valvoline’s multipurpose agricultural fluids (UTTO) are versatile. They are suitable for tractors and other equipment like earthmovers and forklifts.

How often should you change hydraulic oil in a forklift?

Manufacturers typically recommend changing it every 1,000 to 4,000 hours of use. This is equal to every six months to two years. For example, Toyota recommends a change every 1,000 hours. Brands like Clark and Yale suggest a 2,000-hour interval for certain models. The specific interval depends on your forklift model. This information is available in the owner’s manual.

What type of hydraulic oil does a Toyota forklift use?

Toyota usually advises ISO VG 32 hydraulic oil for their forklifts. This specification is advised for their 7FBE electric 3-wheel forklifts and 8-series 4-wheel forklifts. Additionally, it’s used in their 8-series “core” sit-down models and some of their higher-capacity diesel yard trucks.

What type of hydraulic oil does a Nissan forklift use?

Nissan often recommends ISO VG 32 hydraulic oil with anti-wear properties for their forklifts. This oil is used in their 1F1 and 1F2 series. It’s also used in their 3,000 to 6,000 lb. capacity pneumatic forklifts.

What type of hydraulic oil does a Hyster forklift use?

Popular Hyster forklift models use ISO VG 46 hydraulic oil. For example, they suggests this specification for the S40 through the S70 cushion trucks. It’s also the suggestion for the H40 through H70 pneumatic series.

What type of hydraulic oil does a Clark forklift use?

Clark suggests using VG 15, 22, or 46 hydraulic oils for specific electric warehouse models. Moreover, they recommend using AW 32 oil in their WSTX 33 stand-up stacker truck. Many Clark cushion and pneumatic forklift models take MS-68 hydraulic oil.

What type of hydraulic oil does a Yale forklift use?

Yale recommends SAE 10W hydraulic oil for specific cushion electric models ranging from 7 to 12,000 lb. capacity. This equals ISO VG 32 oil.

What kind of hydraulic oil does a Cat forklift take?

Cat recommends using Caterpillar Hydraulic Oil (HYDO) for forklifts with Cat hydraulic systems. This corresponds to SAE 10W or SAE 30 hydraulic oil, and SAE 10W equals ISO VG 32, while SAE 30 is ISO VG 100. Cat also advises against using industrial oil with oil-separating properties. This is because their hydraulic systems are designed such that water separation could harm their longevity.

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