PM for Wheel Loaders

Preventative maintenance, or PM, has become such a buzz term that we often forget just how important it really is. With so many different schedules for so many different components, who but a mechanic can keep track? You can.

When it comes to wheel loaders, preventative maintenance follows the 50-hour rule. Every week, a light in your head — and possibly your dashboard — should illuminate, reminding you that measures must be taken as soon as possible to keep your wheel loader running smoothly. In addition to PM tasks every 50 hours, wheel loader owners must schedule further inspections every 100 hours, every 500 hours and every 1,500 hours. Of course there is also a daily schedule of preventative maintenance, consisting of checking and refilling fluids and giving the machine a good cleaning after the day’s work.

Wheel Loaders PMPM at 50 Hours (Weekly)

The first 50-hour check will likely take place following the first week of the machine’s use. These tasks are recommended every 50 hours or every week. Much of the maintenance required at 50 hours is similar to your daily work. You need to check the engine and hydraulic oil and brake fluid, refilling if it’s low. Another daily task you’ll need to do more thoroughly every 50 hours is cleaning the dust valve on the air filter housing.

New maintenance jobs that must be completed every 50 hours include checking the engine and hydraulic oil coolers. You’re looking for contamination. The V-belt needs your attention at 50 hours as well. In addition to its overall condition, you need to check the tension, tightening if necessary. You must also drain the water from the fuel/water separator and clean the filter insert on the fuel pump. It may require replacement.

Lubrication is your next 50-hour task. You’ll want to lubricate the bearings located in the following areas: driveshaft, steering cylinder, articulation joint,  lift arm linkages, tilt rod, tilt lever, lift cylinder, tilt cylinder, quick-hitch and all hinges, joints and fittings (e.g. door arrester).

Every 50 hours of operation, it’s recommended that wheel loader users check the function of the service and park brakes, steering system, lights and electrical system and the tires for damage, air pressure and tread depth. Additionally, all connections need to be examined for leaks. Make sure you check each of the following components: air intake line; engine lubrication points; fuel lines; and the cooling, steering, hydraulic and brake systems.

PM at 100 Hours

After 100 hours of operation, a compact wheel loader should receive its first formal inspection. The oil and filter components will receive particular attention during this once-over. You must change out each of the following components: engine oil and oil filter, fuel filter, hydraulic oil filter insert. Inspection of several areas must take place at 100 hours. Brake pads must be checked and replaced if needed on both the service and park brake systems. The axle oil should be checked for contamination in all locations. Wheel loader operators must also check the screw connections throughout the machine for tightness. Some areas that you will need to pay close attention to include the engine bearing, steering and hydraulic systems, loader unit (pin locking), axle mounting, counterweight, driveshaft and the cab. The electrical system should also be examined.

You’ll want to check the electric and ground connections, as well as chafing on the wiring harness and battery terminals. Just don’t forget that all of your 50-hour PM jobs must also be completed at this time.

Hydraulic hosePM at 500 Hours

At 500 hours, wheel loaders will receive their second inspection. First-time PM tasks during this assessment include replacing the air filter insert, changing  the axle oil, both at wheel end and center of axle, for the front and rear axles, draining the condensation water in the hydraulic oil tank (if using biodegradable oil), checking the battery for a good charge and checking the engine timing via the valve tip clearance. These assignments must be repeated every 500 hours. And of course (don’t forget again!), your 50-hour PM jobs must be a part of your 500-hour inspection.

PM at 1,500 Hours

Remembering what tasks take place during every 1,500-hours inspection is simple — everything. That’s right. Every task mentioned in this article must be completed at the 1,500-hour assessment. All oil and filter changes must be completed. All inspection work must take place. All lubrication service must be done. All components must be tightened, and, of course, all 50-hour, weekly assignments must be carried out.

There are a few additional tasks that must be completed for the first time during this inspection and every 1,500 hours thereafter. They include changing the hydraulic oil and the breather filter in the hydraulic oil tank and cleaning the dust filter on the heating system.

It’s a load of work, but well worth the time and effort. What you put into the machine in preventative maintenance, you will get out of it in efficiency, smooth operation and extended life.

Nathan Ryan is the product manager for Gehl articulated loaders, based in West Bend, Wis.

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