Construction Equipment Hydraulic Oil Tips

Working with construction hydraulics requires knowledge both about the proper use of the equipment and the maintenance.  Here are seven must do tips to keep your hydraulic equipment running right.


This can’t be stressed enough.  So many equipment failures can be avoided if owners would simply take the time to check and change the hydraulic oil.  Two conditions require hydraulic oil to be changed; degradation of the base oil or depletion of the additive package. It’s not enough to simply go by the hours of the machine.  There are many factors involved that determine when the hydraulic oil needs to be changed.  As a result, oil analysis is the only way to make an educated decision.


A similar situation applies to hydraulic filters. You cannot depend on the amount of hours on the machine. Change the filters when the capacity is full but before the bypass valve opens.  A device to monitor the filters is suggested.


Running the machine when they hydraulic system is getting too hot leads to blown seals, hoses, and other problems.  What is considered too hot depends on the viscosity of the hydraulic oil.  When the viscosity falls below the acceptable rate, the problems will begin.  Knowing that rate is important when operating the machine.  The minimum viscosity varies from part to part.  A vane pump requires higher minimum viscosity than a piston pump.  Generally, you should not operate any machine when the hydraulic oil temperature goes above 180 degrees fahrenheit however it could be lower depending on the part in question.


All kinds of problems will arise if you’re putting the wrong hydraulic oil into your hydraulic system.  Knowing that viscosity is required is paramount.  The viscosity determines the minimum and maximum operating temperatures.


There are two hydraulic filter locations that do more harm than good and can rapidly destroy the very components they were installed to protect. These filter locations which should be avoided are the pump inlet and drain lines from the housings of piston pumps and motors.

You may think it’s necessary to have a strainer on the pump inlet to protect it from debris but when you think of it, the pump draws its oil from a dedicated reservoir that is clean.

You really want the oil to flow freely to fill the pumping chambers during intake.

Research shows a restricted intake can reduce the service life of a gear pump by more than half!  For vane pumps the decrease in performance by installing filters here is even worse.


Hydraulic components are not self-priming and they are not self-lubricating. For this reason it is important to go through the proper steps before starting your machine.  Not doing so can cause damage.  Educating yourself about your machine and it’s hydraulics will save you a lot of money.

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