Compact Utility Loader Maintenance

Compact utility loaders can be
valuable tools in the construction and landscaping markets. The
machines are small and agile enough to fit in backyards and other
confined spaces, while powerful enough to handle some jobs usually
tackled by larger skid steer machines.

Because these versatile compact utility loaders are so instrumental to
a contractor’s equipment fleet, it’s critical that they stay in peak
working condition. From cleaning the tracks to performing routine
engine inspections, here are some top preventive maintenance tips for
operators of compact utility loaders.

1. Maintain Proper Tire Inflation

Tires on a compact utility loader should be inflated with air, unless
foam or liquid fill is required, says Tony Bokhoven, compact solutions
specialist for Vermeer Mfg. Co. If the tires are over-inflated, they
may cause a harsher ride for the operator. Under-inflated tires can
become damaged under the weight of a load, Bokhoven says. “As long as you set your tire pressure to the manufacturer’s suggested
pressure, you should get the best possible life out of them.”

2. Maintain Proper Track Tension

On compact utility loaders with tracks, you should inspect the track
tension daily and make adjustments if necessary, Bokhoven says.
Operators must maintain the proper track tension specified in the
manufacturer’s manual. If tracks are too loose, they can slip off, bind
and tear. And, if the track tension is too tight, it will eventually
stretch the tracks and cause the same wear problems.

3. Clean Tracks and Roller Bearings

At the end of each workday, an operator should also clean the tracks of
mud and other debris using a pressure washer. Cleaner tracks will allow
any damage that might have occurred throughout the day to be seen and
promptly repaired or replaced. If you do not clean the tracks daily,
dried mud can become packed in the tracks’ rollers and bearings,
causing premature wear. Operators should also grease the roller
bearings daily, unless they are sealed. “Having a sealed bearing means
one less item for the operator to maintain,” Bokhoven says.

4. Inspect Engine Components

Changing the oil and cleaning the air filter regularly are two basic
maintenance tasks operators can perform to keep the unit’s engine
running smoothly. But engine coolant is one component that is often
overlooked by operators owning liquid-cooled diesel engines. Bokhoven
says some operators notice too late that their engine coolant is low,
which may cause the engine to overheat. And the more times the engine
overheats, the shorter its life.

5. Clean Attachment Connections

One of the important benefits of having a compact utility loader is the
ability to run a variety of attachments. In order to keep those
attachments connected and running, Bokhoven recommends cleaning the
auxiliary hydraulic system’s connection points before hooking up an
attachment. “If there are dirty fittings where you plug in the
attachments, those contaminants may be pushed into the hydraulic
system,” he says. “Over time, it will reduce the life of those
hydraulic components.”

6. Consult the Owner’s Manual

And last but not least, operators should always refer to their
manufacturer’s manual to identify their compact utility loader’s
maintenance items and planned maintenance schedule.

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