How to Fill and Check your Hydraulic Fluid for your Forklift

The Importance of Hydraulic Fluid

Forklifts depend on hydraulic fluid for their lifting and steering abilities. Hydraulics are the lifeblood of a forklift. Without it, you are increasing the chances of your forklift breaking down.  Whether you are lifting 20,000 lbs. or 1,000 lbs, a proper forklift relies on the perfect amount of hydraulic fluid to provide excellent production. An inadequate level of hydraulic fluid could decrease the functionality of your forklift’s lifting and steering ability. An Overabundance of fluid can cause leaks and spills, which could lead to safety and environmental dangers. Here is everything you need to know about properly filling and checking hydraulic fluid for your forklift.

Filling hydraulic fluid into your forklift

There are certain steps and procedures to follow in regards to filling your forklift with hydraulic fluid. Properly filling your forklift will help maintain the equipment in the future.

  1. Consult the operator manual – We recommend replacing a forklift’s hydraulic fluid every 1,000 hours of use, however, you should consult the forklift operator’s manual if available. It will provide the specific grade of hydraulic fluid use for your particular forklift along with the fill level of your hydraulic tank.
  2. Proper Parking – Please make sure the forklifts are parked on level ground and not on an incline. If not, you can run the risk of a hydraulic fluid leak or your forklift accidentally rolling. If you cannot park on a level ground, please chock the wheels to prevent the forklift from becoming loose. Lower the forks until they touch the ground, set the parking brake and turn the ignition off.
  3. The Hydraulic Reservoir – Open the hood and locate the hydraulic reservoir. It will have a vented fill cap with a sight glass or fill gauge on its side to indicate the fluid level.
  4. Provide the fluid – Remove the vented fill cap and insert the oil into the fill tube and begin pumping the fluid into the reservoir.
  5. Checking the levels – This step is very vital. Keep your eyes on the tank’s fluid level via the sight glass or fill gauge. The gauge contains a fill level that provides the proper capacity of oil for the forklift. Once the fluid reaches the max line, stop pumping.
  6. Withdraw the pump – Slowly remove the hydraulic delivery pump’s fill nozzle. Use a towel to clean up any fluid that may have spilled outside the tank.
  7. Finish the job – Replace the vented cap with a new one. Tightened the cap and close the lid. You have properly filled hydraulic fluid into your forklift.

3 Symptoms to watch for incase your hydraulic fluid is running low

Again, we recommend replacing a forklift’s hydraulic fluid every 1,000 hours of use but sometimes it can be difficult to monitor all the forklifts in your fleet, especially if you run a forklift occasionally over time. Here are three easy detectable symptoms to be aware of for when your hydraulic fluid is low.

Abnormal Noise – Natural elements can affect your hydraulic systems. Aeration occurs when air contaminates with hydraulic fluid . This can create a banging or knocking noise when it compresses and decompresses through the system. Aeration can cause the hydraulic fluid to accelerate the degradation of the fluid. If you begin to notice a knocking noise while operating your forklift, check your hydraulic gauge to make sure you are not running low.

High Fluid Temperature – Anything can cause a high fluid temperature. If the temperature in your fluid exceeds 180 degrees, it can damage the seals and accelerate the degradation of the fluid. Not only could this cause your fluid to evaporate exponentially, but it also could damage the forklift due to its excessive thinning of the oil film. To notice if you have a high temperature fluid, install an alarm in the system that can measure the temperatures of the fluid.

Slow Operation – If you begin to notice a significant drop-off in the performance of your forklift, you may need a hydraulic fluid change. The hydraulic Fluid is the engine that keeps your forklift running in excellent shape. Therefore, a loss of speed can indicate a loss of fluid.

Proactively monitoring noise, fluid temperature and operation can effectively detail the condition of your hydraulic fluid.

How to Check the Hydraulic Fluid Levels?

You noticed something is wrong with your forklift. Your equipment is making an abnormal noise, moving slowly, and it has been awhile since you last filled your hydraulic fluid. It could be time to check your hydraulic fluid levels, but how?

  1. Gather your Dipstick – Many Original Equipment Managers (OEM) provide the same dipstick for various models. For example, cushion tire and pneumatic tire trucks use the same dipstick with masts ranging from single to triple stage. For pneumatic forklifts, use the side marked with P1, P2, P3. With cushion forklifts, use the side of the dipstick marked C1, C2, C3. Check out your operator manual for reference on which number to check or contact your local dealer.
  2. Park on a level ground – Make sure you are not positioned on an uneven or uphill surface.
  3. Keep your forks in a standard position – Lower the forks to the ground and do not tilt them backward or forward. If they are elevated, some of the hydraulic fluid will be in the lift cylinders and you will not be able to gather an accurate reading.
  4. Use the Dipstick to check the level
  5. Use the correct fluid – Make sure to use the recommended fluid by the manufacturer. Putting the wrong fluid in the equipment will lead to poor results.

Keep your machines running right with regular fluid checks, filter replacements and routine inspections. Keep track of your hydraulic fluid and make sure to replace it every 1,000 hours of use. For any more service questions, contact our service department.

 

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