Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (2024)

Is your forklift leaking hydraulic oil? Here are the steps you should take. Click on each link to read more details about each section.

Step 1: Take Action; Don't Ignore It
Step 2: Depressurize the System
Step 3: Determine Where the Leak Is Coming from
Step 4. Check your Hydraulic Oil
Things to avoid when your forklift is leaking hydraulic oil

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Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (1)

Is your forklift leaking hydraulic oil? Don’t ignore it!

A forklift leaking hydraulic oil is a warning sign that needs to be addressed. It could lead to a complete hydraulic system failure if not found and fixed in time. If you notice that your forklift is leaking hydraulic oil, then take the following steps.

Step 1: Take Action

It is very important to take the appropriate action as soon as you notice a forklift leaking hydraulic oil. Even a minor leak could be a sign that there is a more severe and expensive problem on the way.

Step 2: Depressurize the System

Before you start an inspection of your hydraulic system to determine where your leak is coming from, depressurize your system. This will reduce the risk of hydraulic fluid bursting from your machine while you are inspecting it.

Hydraulic fluid is under great pressure and is extremely hot. If it escapes, it can inject fluid through even thick leather gloves and into your skin.

Even if the leak is minor, it is important that you depressurize before you start looking around it in order to stay safe and avoid injury. If you are unsure how to safely do this, contact a forklift professional.

The following video will give you a simple overview of how a basic hydraulic system functions.

Hydraulic oil is under a lot of pressure inside the system

Step 3: Determine Where the Leak Is Coming from

There are several different parts of your forklift's hydraulic system where oil can start to leak out. Carefully check each one to determine where the leak is coming from.

Control Valve: If you have a leak in your control valve, it will affect your hydraulic pressure. This in turn can damage your seals and decrease your lift capacity.

Lift Cylinder: You can get an oil leak both inside and outside of your lift cylinder. If you notice fluid on parts of your forklift or on the ground then the lift cylinder may be leaking.

Tilt Cylinder: If your tilt cylinder is leaking oil, then the lower fluid level could damage your hydraulics and your mast may begin to move uncontrollably.

Auxiliary Lines and Hydraulic Hoses: If any of your lines are damaged or bent, they may begin to leak. In addition, debris particles could enter into the system and contaminate the hydraulic oil, thus damaging the pump.

Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (2)

Carefully check the parts of your forklift’s hydraulic system for leaks - Image Source: Created by Tynt22 using Adobe Photoshop. [CC BY-SA]

Hydraulic Filters: If your hydraulic filter is blocked and the flow of oil is restricted, it will result in extra wear and tear on your system's internal workings.

Loose Nut: Your leak may simply be the result of a loose nut. Tightening the nut may correct the problem. However, you need to be careful not to over tighten.

If you over tighten, you may ruin the fitting integrity of the part, which can also cause a leak. Make sure you use the right amount of torque on the nut. If you are unsure, then it is best to have a professional tighten it for you.

If you need to replace one of the fittings, make sure you replace it with the same type of fitting. Even if you have to wait for the correct part, it is worth it.

Replacing a fitting with one that is even slightly different could be very dangerous. If you are not sure what part to use, contact a professional parts department. Don't take chances.

Step 4. Check your Hydraulic Oil

About 80% of forklift hydraulic lift failures are due to the use of hydraulic fluid that has become dirty or contaminated. Water, dirt, and the wear of metals can cause your oil to become contaminated. This can lead to hydraulic leakages and failures.

Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (3)

Forklift leaking hydraulic oil? Check your fluid to make sure it’s not contaminated

Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - Things to Avoid

Never Touch Hydraulic Fluid

Hydraulic fluid can get as hot as 300 degrees Fahrenheit or even hotter. This can cause serious burns on your skin. If you do get burned, you will need immediate medical attention.

Don't Let Your Hydraulic Oil Near Open Flames

Hydraulic oil is highly flammable. You should never have a lit cigarette, lighter, illumination, welding or cutting torches anywhere near your fluid.

Even a pinhole leak can produce a mist-like vapour that is highly flammable and will easily ignite near an open flame.

Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (4)

Never let hydraulic oil come in contact with an open flame

Other Safety Hazards of Your Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil

Damage to Other Parts

If your forklift is still able to lift to its full height, it doesn't mean that you have enough oil. Most forklifts carry an additional 3-5 gallons of oil that are used to cool other components in your lift truck.

If your forklift if leaking oil, then there may not be sufficient oil for cooling these components.

Your forklift may seem to be working fine, however the high heats generated may be ruining other expensive parts such as a pump because there isn't enough oil left to keep it properly cooled.

Pedestrian Hazard

Oil that has dipped out onto your warehouse floor could cause another employee or pedestrian to slip and fall and injure themselves. If the injury is serious enough it could result in a costly compensation claim.

Fire Hazard

While moving around the warehouse, forklifts pick up debris such as dust, dirt, paper, and shrink wrap. These objects could get covered with dripping oil and a spark could easily ignite them and set your forklift on fire putting your operator, other employees and your product in danger.

Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (5)

Is Your Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil? Wayco Can Fix It

Is your forklift leaking hydraulic oil? Don’t ignore it. Bring it to Wayco. Our professional service technicians can fix or replace any part that is damaged or leaking.

If you want to prevent leaks, we can help you set up a regular maintenance schedule that will ensure that your forklifts are in top working condition at all times. Contact us today to set up an service appointment.

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Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (6)

Need Another Forklift? Contact Wayco

Whether you are in the market for a new or used forklift, talk to the professionals at Wayco. Wayco offers the best warranties in the business for both new and used forklifts so you can purchase with confidence! Contact us today!

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Forklift Leaking Hydraulic Oil - What to Do? — WAYCO (2024)

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