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What to look for when checking a loader backhoe?

Nov. 22, 2021

Looking for a truly versatile piece of heavy equipment for your next project? The loader backhoe is a combination of a tractor, excavator and loader, and is considered by some to be the Swiss Army knife of heavy equipment. It can dig, backfill, handle materials and perform many more tasks with the right attachments. Compact and versatile, the loader backhoe is suitable for everything from construction and demolition to landscaping and road construction.

What to look for when checking a loader backhoe?cid=96

1. Cab and general operation

Walk to the cab, open the door and look inside. Assess the overall condition of the seat, joystick and foot pedals. Consider whether the chronograph readings are appropriate for the amount of wear present in the cab.

Start the machine and perform general operating tasks. With the stabilizer or outriggers on the ground, lift the tires off the ground and swing the moving arm from left to right, looking for any signs of loose bushings. Next move the loading arm up and down and check again for any gaps that may be caused by loose pins or bushings.

If you experience any loss of pressure, any difficulty steering, constant, high fluid temperatures or unusual noise or "chatter" when operating the attachment, the hydraulic system is most likely the culprit.

Stabilizers rely on hydraulics to function. Look carefully at the stabilizer for any signs of leakage. Also make sure the stabilizer pad is flat and undamaged. Check the integrity of the stabilizer arms by looking for any cracks or dents.

2. Hydraulic system and engine

The hydraulic system is responsible for the efficient operation of many of the loader backhoe's moving parts, so take the time to inspect each system component. Check the hoses for any breaks or scratches, and make sure the fittings are all in good condition. Check gas cylinders for any leaks or signs of damage, including dents or scratches. Not only can dents and scratches be potential escape routes for fluids, but they can also be entry points for dirt and other hydraulic fluid contaminants.

While you are under the hood, check the engine for any obvious leaks, loose belts and filter conditions. In most cases, the service technician or operator will note the last service date on the air filter.

3. Loader buckets, bucket teeth, bucket edges and loader arms

When inspecting the bucket for signs of wear, pay close attention to the leading edge, the thickness of the bucket side plates, the condition of the bottom of the bucket and the integrity of the bucket welds. Look closely at the bucket teeth and check for any missing, loose or worn teeth, or missing bolts. Check the bucket cutting edge for scalloping or other signs of wear. Remember: you can flip the cutting edge to extend its life.

After inspecting the bucket, move to the loader arm and check for any cracks, re-welds or bends. Cracks may result when the machine exceeds its capacity or if there is a structural failure. Rewelding is a sign of repair work, and bending may indicate that the machine has been rolled during operation.

4. Backhoe movable arms, bucket bars and buckets

Just as you did with the loader arms, inspect the backhoe boom and check for any cracks, re-welds or bends. Just as you did with the loader bucket, look at the overall condition of the hoe bucket and again look for any missing teeth or bolts. Make sure the overall digging depth of the backhoe is the maximum depth you need. 

5. Tires and underneath

Loader backhoes typically have three main types of axle configurations: 4x2, 4x4, or 4x4x4 (four-wheel drive and all-wheel steering). You can usually guess the configuration by looking at the tire size or by looking at the presence of differentials and drive shafts on the front axle underneath the machine. To verify the axle configuration, consult the manufacturer. When checking the axles, pay close attention to the front axle seals and again look for any signs of leaks.

Get underneath the loader backhoe and inspect the driveshaft for any damage caused by rocks or rough terrain. If you hear any excessive noise from the driveshaft while the machine is running, this could be a sign of transmission damage or the universal joints on the driveshaft may need to be replaced. Check the ground for any signs of leaks before proceeding to the cab.

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