Compact excavator tracks and undercarriage maintenance

Mini Excavator

To get the longest life from your compact excavator, you need to make sure you’re inspecting and replacing common wear parts including sprockets, idlers, rollers and tracks. Failure to identify issues with any of these components can cause premature wear on the tracks and downtime, all of which can be prevented through a quick maintenance routine.

Clean Undercarriage — Daily
Dirt, mud and rocks can get packed against your undercarriage components, preventing them from rolling freely and causing premature wear. Using a shovel, remove as much material as possible each day. Using a high-pressure washer from time to time will also help. Cleaning the undercarriage becomes more important when the weather gets cold. All that mud and moisture can freeze, putting a significant strain on your machine’s undercarriage.

Inspect the Undercarriage — Weekly
Start by looking at the sprockets. They can wear faster than other undercarriage components, especially if you’re doing a lot of backfilling or working in rocky conditions. The teeth on the sprockets should be round shaped. If you see pointed or hooked teeth, it’s time to put new sprockets on the machine.

A final note on sprockets — it’s a good idea to replace them anytime you’re putting a new set of tracks on your excavator. Failure to do so could void the manufacturer’s warranty on a new set of tracks. Now, turn your attention to the machine’s idlers and rollers. Look for oil seepage or oil leaking around the seals. These components are sealed and lubricated, and leaking can lead to bearing failure, which could cause the idler or roller to seize. Heat is another indicator that a seal or bearing is failing. Friction heats up the idler or roller because of the lack of lubrication.

Check the Tracks — Ongoing
Pay attention to the track tension of your compact excavator. Loose tracks lead to de-tracking, and over-tight tracks may cause power loss, excessive wear to the rollers and idlers or cause a torn track. Spend a little time each week looking for signs of track damage such as exposed cables and chunks of missing rubber. While you’re at it, look at the underside of the track to evaluate the track’s links. When a track is nearing the end of its life, it will lose links. If you see any issues, it’s time to order a new set of tracks.

Buy Quality and Value
When it is time to replace common undercarriage components, do yourself a favor and invest in quality and value. Aftermarket undercarriage parts that are comparable to OEM in quality will always be a better value. You can find replacement undercarriage parts such as sprockets, rollers and idlers through online compact equipment component sites like

When you take care of your compact excavator’s undercarriage, you’ll get more hours from a set of tracks and increase the life of the machine. So, take a little time each week to perform routine maintenance and reap the benefits.

Eric Hartzler is a wholesale manager at MWE.

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