Whether you’re working with motor graders, skid steers, track loaders, backhoes or excavators, the one thing that each of these machines has in common is a hydraulic system. From a maintenance perspective, hydraulic systems are often one of the most overlooked components of a machine, yet they are arguably the most important when it comes to getting the best performance out of a piece of equipment. As best practices suggest, most operators will do a daily walkaround inspection, and as long as there are no leaks and the oil level is good, that’s the end of it. But if you want to protect your investment and keep your equipment performing at its best, a hydraulic system requires much more than that. In this article, we will focus on three key elements of any hydraulic system — oil, filtration and system integrity.
The mantra today is lowering operating costs. Some contractors will take this concept the wrong way and use the cheapest hydraulic oil in order to keep costs down—this can save a few bucks in the short term, but can cause serious harm to your hydraulic system over time. Will you see a failure right away? No, but using the right kind of hydraulic oil can be the difference between an axial piston pump (a very expensive component) lasting 10,000 hours instead of 5,000 hours.