Preventative Maintenance for Your Hydraulic Cylinders

rebuilding, lubricating, hydraulic, cylinderTo protect your hydraulic cylinders for a long life performing at a high level, it is essential to incorporate preventative maintenance into your regular protocol. By establishing and following a strict maintenance calendar, you can create a safer work environment for operators while preventing premature hydraulic cylinder failure.

Cleaning & Maintaining Hydraulic Cylinders

Conducting regular maintenance inspections of your hydraulic cylinder helps you avoid costly breakdowns, plan for necessary repair or replacement costs, and ensure your equipment runs smoothly. Along with wiping down and cleaning your hydraulic cylinder before conducting maintenance, check for loose fittings, worn or damaged seals and hoses, or other issues that may require repair.

Properly Maintain Hydraulic Fluids

Since most hydraulic cylinder failures are a direct result of contamination, maintaining the cleanliness of hydraulic fluid is critical. One of the first lines of defense in controlling contamination in hydraulic fluid is to make it harder for particles to enter the system while removing any particles already present. A few ways to maintain clean hydraulic fluids include, but are not limited to:

  • Installing, inspecting, and maintaining all component seals
  • Upgrading filters to capture smaller particles
  • Ensuring filters are equipped with a gauge or switch to indicate clogs
  • Collecting bottle samples to be sent to a local laboratory for analysis
  • Applying a portable particle counter to monitor contamination levels.

By checking the fluid cleanliness regularly, you can easily ensure that your preventative maintenance is effective. Scheduled fluid analysis can include water content and parts per million of specific wear metals and contaminants. Most hydraulic cylinders are designed to provide long life at an ISO cleanliness level of 17/15/13.

Check & Maintain Hydraulic Cylinder Oil Conditions

Checking for insufficient oil should also be routine when maintaining hydraulic cylinders as low levels or escaped fluid can lead to slow-functioning cylinders and poorly performing systems. Always monitor the performance and condition of internal pumps, valves, and actuators. Externally, a burst hose is usually the culprit and is easy to find.

Another cause of hydraulic cylinder failure comes from high oil temperatures. High-temperature oil can lead to an overheated hydraulic system, resulting in a full system breakdown. These high temperatures can be caused by clogged cooler vents, relief valves set too low, using incorrect fluid viscosity, or a pump with high leakage out the case drain. Regular cylinder maintenance can help you identify and repair or clean these components before day-to-day operations are impacted.

Reduce Friction Through Cylinder Rod Repair


Cylinder rods are one of the most important components within a hydraulic cylinder. When rods are bent, the resulting load shift can impair cylinder operations and lead to cylinder drift, equipment malfunctions, and cylinder failure. By conducting preventative maintenance checks, you can quickly locate and replace any bent rods.

Rods can also become rough when a surface rubs against the cylinder, causing friction within the machine. Friction will increase the amount of power and hydraulic fluid demanded by your cylinder. As a part of your preventative hydraulic cylinder maintenance protocol, ensure all rods are cleaned, polished, and finished to operate as intended.

Maintain Your Hydraulic Cylinder with Replacement Parts Built to Last

By following good preventative maintenance procedures to keep the machine full of clean fluid at the proper temperature and equipped with functioning components, your hydraulic cylinders will provide years of reliable service, and the rest of your hydraulic system will thank you as well! However, no matter how diligently you clean your cylinders or maintain your equipment, cylinders and components may eventually need to be replaced or upgraded.

Hydraulic Cylinders Inc. is here to help. In addition to our extensive inventory of hydraulic cylinders and cylinder components, we offer in-depth resources and knowledge to assist you. Contact us to learn more about maintaining your hydraulic cylinders to improve your equipment’s efficiency and demolish equipment downtime.

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