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Excavator maintenance: how to ensure the longevity of your heavy equipment

Excavators are the most important part of many construction equipment fleets and used for a wide array of building work, including roadside repairs, landscaping and mining. Available in all sizes, they range from mini excavators weighing less than seven metric tons to large models that start out at 45 metric tons.

Some excavators come on tracks, others are on wheels and some can be attached to the back of loaders. As one of the most popular types of heavy machinery equipment, they can range in price from €5,000 for a well-kept second hand mini excavator to half a million or more for a large new model.

Keeping your excavator in excellent condition can save you a lot of money in the long run, cutting down on maintenance costs and ensuring you get the best deal if you sell it to someone else.

Keep an eye on your excavator’s oil

After fuel, oil is the life blood of any vehicle and it’s vitally important for heavy machinery that features multiple hydraulic systems. Degraded engine oil is easy to recognise, as it changes color and may become filled with particles. Hydraulic oil, however, often remains clear even when the needed additives have broken down.

Heavily-used hydraulics systems, like those found in the boom, have specific requirements and using poor quality oil that’s lost its protective power can lead to serious problems, including hydraulic failures. Also, hydraulic oil is important for keeping the entire system free of water and protecting it from rust and degradation. Investing in good oil might seem expensive, but it can save you plenty of money over the long run.

Grease is good

Properly lubricated pivot points — like the bushings, pins, bucket, dipper and boom — make for a smooth operating excavator. Wear on these points is difficult to repair, but fortunately, they are easy to maintain. Using a good grease can increase an excavator’s lifespan, but don’t use too much, as it can get messy and might take longer to clean up than to apply.

Get the best buckets

Choosing the right bucket for your work can help your excavator to last longer. Make sure you select one that can handle the densest soil you plan to excavate when carrying out projects now and in the future.

Exactly how you’ll be excavating also affects what you need, whether it’s a regular, ditch or trench bucket. Finally, make sure the bucket attachments are well made. Cutter, sidebar and bottom wear plates are meant to absorb wear and tear, preventing you from having to replace your bucket too soon.

Don’t forget track tension

Excavators that don’t run on packed soil, asphalt or concrete have tracks which must be properly aligned and kept at the right tension. If the tension is too tight, it can increase wear and fuel consumption. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough tension, the tracks can come off when turning or maneuvering.

Modern mini excavators often feature rubber tracks that react differently to rough terrain and higher speeds, so the most wear happens through the sprockets. Though rubber tracks can stretch, this can be easily fixed by using the track adjusters to move the idlers and maintaining the proper tension level.

General preventative maintenance

Excavators need to be run on a regular basis. Even when you’re not using yours for work, take it for a spin every week to keep the oil flowing and all of the moving parts properly lubricated. Keeping the undercarriage clean makes it easier to spot leaks and can help prevent rust and degradation of the track components.

Making preventative maintenance part of your daily routine can save lots on fuel costs and future repairs. Remember that while the big parts of your excavator need proper attention, so do the little bits and pieces. Keeping the air filters, lights, gearbox and fuel filters in good shape will help it last longer and retain value for years to come.

Buy and sell heavy excavators, equipment and more

Whether you’re looking for tracks, buckets or a used excavator, you can find it on Tradus. We carry all the big brands, including Caterpillar, Volvo, Wimmer and JCB, and strive to make buying and selling used heavy machinery equipment fast and simple.

Find your next excavator in the heavy machinery equipment section on Tradus.com.

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