How to Troubleshoot a Snow Plow Hydraulic Cylinder

It is that time of year again. Winter is here. It is unavoidable, often inciting chaos depending on how active mother nature decides to be. While you may not be able to control the weather, you can make sure your snow plow hydraulics are ready for whatever weather systems come your way. Learn how to diagnose hydraulic cylinder issues and keep your snow plow up and running all winter season.

Snow Plow Hydraulic System Issues

Snow plow hydraulic issues can create unwanted headaches and keep you from starting and/or finishing clearing snow plow jobs in a timely fashion. Common hydraulic issues can include motor issues, blade issues, lift issues, and leakage issues.

Hydraulic Snow Plow Motor Issues

  • Motor runs but will not plow
    • Pump pressure could be an issue. Perform pressure test to ensure proper pressure for plow functions
    • Voltage issues with Solenoid Coils. Test voltage and coil connection
    • Pump flow can slow plow functions. Check filters and replace dirty or clogged filters
  • Motor will not run
    • Voltage issues with power connectors. Check to see if voltage is present. If voltage is present, check the main and solenoid connections. Also, check the wiring for disconnection or broken wires

Hydraulic Blade and Plow Issues

  • Blade will not raise
    • Lift hose issues. Check for leaks or wear
    • Contamination with solenoid valve. Clean valve if contaminated
    • Check pump pressure to ensure there is enough pressure for the function
  • Blade will not lower
    • Solenoid valve issues. Check to make sure valve is not contaminated
    • Make sure there are no blockages in pumps or plugs
  • Plow will not raise
    • Voltage issues may impede function. Check to make sure wires are connected
    • Check hydraulic fluid
    • Check pump pressure
  • Plow will not lower
    • Make sure power is connected for proper function
      • Check wiring and voltage
    • Plow will not angle
      • Check power connection, valve coils, and battery function. Check for voltage issues and/or broken wiring

Hydraulic Leakage Issues

  • Internal leakage
    • Piston seal leaks and wear and tear can cause internal leakage. Replace seals as necessary
    • Cylinder creep can reflect internal leakage. Check for worn control valves if creep occurs
    • Excessive damage or wear and tear can cause internal leakage. Wear and tear can occur rapidly if oil viscosity is too low
  • External leakage
    • Rod seal leaks. Rod bushing seals should be replaced if leaks are found to be damaged or worn
    • Body seal leaks.
      • Loose tie rods can cause body seal leaks. Check to make sure tie rods are not worn
      • Check that seals are not soft or hardened. Soft seals imply fluid exposure while hardened seals imply temperature exposure. Replace seals as necessary to impede external leakage
    • Oil leaks
      • Check the exterior pump or shaft for damage
      • Check O-ring damage and replace as needed
    • Air in the hydraulic system
      • Check oil intake and line connections. Change gaskets as necessary for leak containment
    • Seal issues
      • Check for seal contamination in cylinder, shaft, or barrel

Additional Snow Plow System Issues

  • Plow lights will not turn on
    • Check electrical power connections and headlight adapters
  • Turn signals flash rapidly
    • Check signal bulbs, check electrical connections for damage

Keep Your Snow Plow Hydraulics Running Strong with Routine Maintenance

With the unpredictability of winter weather, it is important to remember to implement routine maintenance for your hydraulics. Routine maintenance can catch smaller issues before they turn into catastrophic system failures.

Keeping an extra hydraulic cylinder or cylinder components stocked can also give you peace of mind throughout the winter months. Knowing you have the replacement parts you need in the face of an emergency can keep your downtime low and your plow time high.

Find a Replacement Hydraulic Cylinder or Replacement Parts for Your Snow Plow

Shop for replacement hydraulic cylinders or design a custom hydraulic cylinder for your snow plow needs.

Want to learn more about hydraulic cylinders? Check out our hydraulic cylinder blog and discover how hydraulic cylinders can work for you.