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Basic Preventive Maintenance Tips for Excavators

Dec. 02, 2021

With all the digging and loading, often in harsh environments and rugged ground conditions, excavators endure a lot of hard work and wear and tear at the job site.

If this heavy equipment is not well maintained on a regular basis, all the heavy lifting can begin to take a toll on the safety, power, efficiency and overall performance of the excavator. It also increases the likelihood of machine downtime and potentially expensive repairs and parts replacement. All of this reduces productivity and increases the lifetime cost of the machine.

Taking a little time to properly maintain your excavator is a wise investment. Here are the highlights that should be included.


the excavator

Daily Checklist

Before operating the excavator, take the time to perform a daily walk-around inspection. Inspections don't take much time and can easily pay for themselves if problems are found.

The following items should be checked prior to operation.

◬Check the air filter dust collector

◬Check to make sure there is enough coolant

◬Check engine oil and hydraulic oil levels

◬Check for leaks in compartments and under the machine

◬Check tracks

◬Check coolers to make sure they are free of debris

◬Drain water from the fuel/water separator

◬Make sure there are teeth on the bucket and that they are in good condition

◬Check the wear plates on the bucket

◬Lubricate all pins and bushings daily

◬Check the controls and seat belts in the cab to make sure they are functioning properly

◬Remove trash and debris from the cab

◬Turn on the machine and check the controls, windshield wipers, seat belts and air conditioning system


Landing gear

The undercarriage is an expensive part of owning and operating the excavator. When operating the machine, always work and dig on the idlers, not the sides or back of the excavator, and operate the machine as far forward as possible to avoid excessive wear and tear. If the excavator needs to sit for long periods of time, start the machine every few months and exercise the tracks to avoid jamming the pins.

The following items should be checked to ensure proper track operation.

◬Look for loose bolts in the track and tighten as necessary.

◬Replace bent or damaged guards and rails on the bottom of the track.

◬Remove debris from around the tracks and adjust track tension if necessary to avoid excessive wear

◬Make sure the cotter pin in the main linkage is present.

◬Check the sprockets and drives at the rear of the tracks for oil leaks and make sure all bolts are present and tight.

◬Look for bent shoes on the track. Shoes support each other and one bent shoe will cause additional bent shoes.

Propulsion gearboxes are often overlooked, but they are an important part of machine performance. Transmission oil should be changed approximately every 1,000 hours, depending on the excavator manufacturer.

Bucket teeth for excavators


Maintenance tips to keep your excavator in top condition

1. Check track tension once a week

Track tension should always be a little slack. If the tension on the tracks is too tight, the stress will cause unnecessary wear on the chain and sprockets. This can happen if the distance from the bottom chain to the frame on the landing gear is not measured correctly. This is a different measurement, depending on the type of material, so anyone performing the inspection should always check the operator's manual.

2. Empty the water separator every morning

Condensation often forms in engines overnight due to falling temperatures, so the first thing an operator should do before starting a shift in the morning is to empty the water separator. Otherwise, water may enter the injectors, where it turns into steam and causes corrosion. Not draining the water separator is one of the most common causes of excavator failure.

3. Do not touch the air filter until the cab light comes on

Fiddling with the air filter can allow residue to enter the engine where grit can wear it out. A light will come on in the cab instrument panel when the filter needs to be cleaned (only twice) or replaced.

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