Common Skid Steer Problems
Many companies and individuals use skid steers every day to complete tasks for landscaping and construction jobs. If you use them, you know how important it is to keep them in good condition. There are some primary signs of skid steer issues you can catch early on to avoid productivity losses and costly repairs. By being aware of these signs, you can know what to focus on during inspections and how to maintain your skid steer better.
Find out more about common skid steer problems and the top troubleshooting tips for skid steers.
What Are the Most Common Skid Steer Issues?
Any piece of heavy equipment will eventually face maintenance issues, and skid steers are no exception. To keep your skid steer operating at its best, you’ll want to pay close attention to the skid steer’s engine, hydraulic system and control system. Below are some of the top skid steer issues you may face within these categories and the ways you can check for them:
1. Engine Issues
When an engine doesn’t start properly, you’ll want to begin by inspecting the fuel system, as some of the most common issues start there. Typically, a skid steer’s fuel system features fuel filters, fuel lines and a tank, each requiring individual checks. If your skid steer runs on diesel, not changing the filters on their recommended maintenance schedule can lead to issues. For skid steers that operate in dusty environments, you’ll want to change the filters out more frequently to prevent engine breakdowns.
After checking the diesel fuel filters, you’ll want to move on to the fuel tank. When fuel can’t flow to the fuel injector from the tank, the engine’s operational ability can be affected. The fuel injectors can be common culprits for lack of proper fuel flow, so it’s crucial these injectors aren’t clogged with any materials.
Another common issue occurs when an engine’s glow plugs aren’t working properly. Since a skid steer’s glow plugs help warm the engine’s combustion chambers when it’s in a cold environment, they make it possible for the entire engine to function as intended. At times, these glow plugs can come loose, causing them not to warm the engine. After locating these plugs on both sides of the engine, see if they’re tightly attached.
Finally, ensure the engine’s throttle cable is securely attached to the throttle body. Occasionally, the cables can come loose, causing the engine not to run properly. To check how secure these cables are, take a second to look at both sides of the cable. The cables should be attached to the throttle body, usually located on the motor’s top front, and the accelerator.
2. Hydraulic Issues
Another primary culprit of skid steer issues is the hydraulic system. If the skid steer loader isn’t working correctly, the hydraulic fluid level is often at fault. Ensure the fluid level isn’t underfilled or overfilled, as hydraulic systems perform best when they have the exact amount of fluid recommended by the equipment’s manufacturer.
A clogged hydraulic fuel filter can also cause major issues in the skid steer’s performance. For example, if you notice your loader doesn’t have as much power as it used to have, the fluid filter might be clogged. A clogged filter blocks fluid from flowing freely, which impacts the loader’s power.
A hydraulic system’s pump is also crucial to the skid steer’s proper functioning. If it’s not working properly and it’s a belt-driven model, you can check to see if the belts are in good condition and tightly secured. If they’re worn or loose, they can affect the hydraulic system’s performance significantly.
One of the most crucial checks is to look for loose fittings or leaks in the hydraulic lines, as they affect the hydraulic system’s performance. Before checking both of these factors, pressurize the hydraulic system and ensure the pump and engine are running. When the system’s fluid is under pressure, you’ll be much more likely to see any pinhole leaks. While conducting this check, ensure you’re wearing gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from injuries due to the high pressure.
After looking for leaks, you can also look at the fittings and seals on the control valves. When these seals are broken or the fittings have come loose, the hydraulic system’s performance will decrease. You can also check the valves, ensuring they fully open and close without difficulty.
3. Control System Issues
Operators sometimes find their joystick controls for the skid steer’s steering and loader aren’t responding to their directions. Sometimes, the culprits for these issues are loose or disconnected steering or loader connections, requiring you to reconnect or tighten them. You might also want to check the wires connecting the actuators and hydraulic pump to the joystick to ensure they’re attached appropriately. Other times, you may need to replace the entire joystick control circuit board if you can’t solve the problem in other ways.
If your controls respond, but they do so slowly, there are likely issues with the control system. Besides checking the connections listed above, it’s best practice to inspect any safety switches on the skid steer. When these safety switches malfunction, they’re likely to cause issues throughout the control system. These switches should be functioning properly and have all their connections secured properly. Bad circuits can also harm your control system, so it’s crucial to check the skid steer’s battery for any drain.
Work With Experts to Keep Your Skid Steer Running
When you want to keep your Cat® skid steer running at peak condition, turn to Cleveland Brothers. As soon as you see signs of skid steer issues, our team of expertly-trained technicians can repair your skid steer quickly, and our large selection of parts makes it easy for us to find the ideal replacement part for your equipment. Our technicians follow rigorous testing guidelines and contamination controls to ensure they repair your skid steer in the best way possible.