Excavators are complex machines with lots of moving parts. They have large motors that drive pumps that power the hydraulics. They also move the machine forward and reverse, along with machine rotation. At times, this system of motors, pumps and gears may encounter failures. Below are some common issues that you might encounter during operation.
I would say the most common issue that excavator operators encounter is low power. For obvious reasons this issue can be very frustrating. If you are working in the field, some simple things to check for would be anything that restricts air and gas such as air filters and fuel filters. These can be cleaned or changed out for new ones fairly easily. These procedures may be located in the service manual of your machine. If you have a service manual available, you will want to find out what the cycle times are for your machine. These cycle times would include swing time, stick & boom times. Once you know what these times are you will want to get yourself a stop watch and time these cycles. This will give you an idea if your times are within the specification of the machine or not. One issue that is often not taken into consideration is valve adjustments. This is part of the annual maintenance for excavators and this procedure typically is located in the owner’s maintenance manual for your excavator.
Another common issue when operating an excavator is overheating. When this happens the first thing you will want to check for is coolant. Does your machine have enough coolant or worse yet no coolant at all? Check for leaks. You may need to flush out your coolant and replace it. Next, check your radiator core. Is there any debris in the core? You can easily remove any debris from this area with an air compressor. If you don’t have an air compressor, a leaf blower is very effective.
Lastly, check for hydraulic leaking. Hydraulics runs most movements on excavators. Even if you have a small pin hole leak this will affect the performance of your machine. It will also contaminate the soil beneath the machine. Before operating your machine, this should be on your initial checklist. Hoses can be fixed, but small holes tend to lead to larger holes quickly. It is always a good thing to have extra hoses and couplers on site in case of this.
Make sure to go through a pre-inspection checklist before using your excavator each day. For example, this inspection checklist should include checking fluid levels, inspect your tracks, inspect your undercarriage track parts, check for fluid leaks, and check for any loose parts or cracked welds.
What I always tell our customers is keep your eyes open and listen to your machine. Generally you tend to see or hear the issue before it becomes a larger issue. If you have any other questions consult your owner’s manual or call your local dealer.