Hydraulic fluid is the lifeblood of a skid loader. The hydraulic system powers a loader’s tracks (or wheels), lubricates certain areas, and keeps components cool. It also powers hydraulic attachments.
When a hydraulic system is not performing at optimal levels, operators will notice diminished performance. Not all attachments are hydraulic, but for those that are, hydraulic maintenance is essential. Here’s a look at what owners and operators need to know about maintaining attachments with hydraulic function.
Maintaining Hydraulic Skid Loader Attachments
Proper maintenance will support the longevity and safe operation of hydraulic attachments. Like with any piece of equipment, you’ll have issues that come up, and some might lead to failure.
Two common things to watch out for are motor seals wearing out and increased heat during operation, as both indicate there’s some level of failure within either the attachment motor or the skid loader.
Reference Your Manual
I know it might go without saying for a lot of you reading this, but before we dive into these hydraulic maintenance tips, I have to say it. When it comes to hydraulic servicing, always check to see what your manual says.
Your skid loader has its own manual — you probably checked it to see how often the hydraulic oil needs changing — and individual attachments have their own manuals. Anytime you have a question or experience an issue, it’s a good idea to check your manual first. And remember, hydraulic fluid is just one part of the system.
Keep the System Clean
Contamination is the number one reason for hydraulic system failure. Keeping the system free of dirt and debris is important. One of the main entry points for dirt and debris into the system is through the couplers. Every time they’re connected, it’s an opportunity to introduce dirt into the system.
Getting dirt in the system can cause the couplers to jam. It can also cause leaks. Use a clean cloth to wipe couplers before connecting them. When you store your hydraulic attachment, wipe the couplers clean and protect them from the environment by covering them. Using something as simple as a plastic bag and a rubber band can keep them clean during storage.
Check the Hydraulic Fluid Level
If it’s not already part of your daily preparation, add checking the hydraulic fluid to your list. This is a simple task that can provide a lot of insight. Ensure there is enough fluid. If there’s not, it can cause severe damage to your pumps.
The fluid shouldn’t be dirty, and its level should only change a little bit from day to day. If you notice a big change in fluid levels, it could be a sign of another issue like a leak, worn out seal, or cracked hose. Either way, if the fluid level is low, always refill it before operating.
Perform a Walk-Around Inspection
A visual inspection of your hydraulic system is a great opportunity to inspect the motor, check the hydraulic hoses for leaks, and grease the hinge pins. Take a moment to check bolts and nuts, as the motor’s constant vibration may loosen them. We recommend operators make it a daily habit to check these things prior to operation, but at the minimum, check on a weekly basis.
If owners and operators combine these tips with the guidelines in their operation manuals, they’re taking the right steps to keep their hydraulic system operating as it should.