SALE PRICES & FREE SHIPPING (Lower 48 States Only) on select items. Ends May 31, 2024

What is a Case Drain on a Skid Steer? The Most Common Skid Steer Issues

What is a Case Drain on a Skid Steer?

Table of Content:
1. What are the most common skid steer problems?
2. What is a drain line and how important is It?
3. Clogged case drain filters
4. When should you replace the case drain filter?
5. Work with experts to keep your skid steer running

No matter how vigilant and careful we are with our equipment, it will at some point wear out. Maintenance is an unavoidable part of the life of every tool, especially heavy equipment, such as skid steers.  

However, it is possible to keep the crucial parts in good condition for as long as possible. Today's article teaches us which parts are vital and what to pay attention to make sure your machine's great working condition. 

What are the most common skid steer problems?

To start with, we will look at the most common problems that skid steer owners struggle with. The issues are connected to three strategic areas, such as skid steer’s engine, hydraulic system, and control system. 

Engine problems 

Most operators start to notice engine problems when the engine has difficulties starting properly. To start with, you should inspect the fuel system. Perform individual checks on all components, such as fuel filters, fuel lines, and the tank.

One of the most common causes of engine problems in diesel skid steers is infrequent changes of filters. It is also the case with machines that work in dusty environments. These require even more frequent filter changes. 

Fuel tank issues include problems with the fuel flow to the injector from the tank. Such an occurrence decreases the engine’s operational ability. Improper flow may be caused by clogged fuel injectors, so checking them is the first action you should take if you suspect fuel tank malfunction. 

Engine glow plugs in a skid steer are responsible for warming the engine’s combustion chambers in cold conditions. If they fail to do so, the engine cannot function properly. It can happen because of loosening glow plugs, so inspect whether they are tightly attached on both sides of the engine. 

The engine’s throttle cable should be securely attached to the throttle body. Loose cables cause incorrect engine operation. Inspect both sides of the cable attached to the throttle body (usually on the motor’s top front). 

Control system problems 

Sometimes, the issue is closer than the operators think, which is the cabin of our skid steer. The lack of response to the directions given by the joystick causes a lot of frustration. It may be a sign of loose or disconnected steering connections. All you must do is tighten or connect them again.

Also, check the connection of the wires between the actuators, hydraulic pump, and the joystick. However, if all the above elements are properly connected and in good working condition, to resolve the issue you may need to install a new joystick control circuit board. 

It is also advisable to check the safety switches on the skid steer, especially when the controls respond to your directions but slowly. Ensures a secured connection of the switches. It is also important to check whether there is a drain within the skid steer’s battery. 

Hydraulic problems 

The hydraulic system is one of the most important systems in your skid steer. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most problematic areas. With any signs of improper skid steer work, start by checking the level of the hydraulic fluid. The hydraulic systems work the most efficiently with a precise amount of fluid recommended by the equipment’s manufacturer. Therefore, ensure that the system is not underfilled or overfilled. 

A clogged fuel filter is often to blame when it comes to the skid steer's performance changes, especially the lack of power. It is because a clogged filter does not allow a free flow of fluid, and therefore affects the skid steer's power. 

Another component worth inspecting is the pump. In the belt-driven model, improperly working pumps can cause loose belts and ultimately wear them, which decreases the hydraulic system’s performance. 

The hydraulic lines are also worth inspecting, as they can be loose or have leaks. To properly inspect the lines, have the pump and engine running. Only then high pressure will ensure a quick leak identification. However, safety should always come first, so ensure using appropriate PPE, such as safety goggles and gloves. It is easier to incur injuries when working with high pressure. 

The last important check you should perform is fittings, seals, and valves. Broken seals, loose fittings, and insufficiently open valves greatly affect the hydraulic system’s performance. 

What is a drain line and how important is it?

A case drain line is a crucial element in a piston-type hydraulic motor. This component, also called a ‘third line’ drains back the oil which has leaked past the primary seal. Thanks to that, the pressure does not build up against the outer seal. The oil can then be returned to the tank. 

Why is the case drain lines' presence important? Without a case drain line skid steer can be subjected to a full system failure because of the shaft seal blow-out. Proper installation is the key to proper work of the hydraulic line and avoiding damaging it beyond repair. A case drain is accompanied by a case drain filter. Its function is to stop contaminants from getting to the tank from the hydraulic motor. 

Clogged case drain filters

Replacing the case drain filter regularly is crucial for the proper functioning of your machine. Otherwise, the hydraulic fluid will not pass through, and there will be pressure build-up. It will happen even though it is a low-pressure line. Such high pressure will look for ways to escape and these ways will often use the weakest points in the system. 

Usually, the weakest points in the drive motor system are the seals. They become prone to leakage which will speed up the process of key components deterioration. It comes because of insufficient lubrication and the generation of more contamination. Usually, systems without case drains often are subject to failures connected to shaft seal leaks. 

High pressure can lead to the displacement of motor components. In the case of the axial piston final drive motor, the piston ball and shoes will be affected. The built-up tension can pull off the shoes and cause hard-to-repair damage. The pistons of a radial piston motor can be lifted off the cam and then forced back into it or lose contact altogether. 

In extreme cases, the cover plate of your motor can even split and fly off at high speed! Not to mention that you might entirely lose control over your machine. 

That is why replacing case drain filters with an appropriate frequency is necessary in maintaining your skid steer at optimal performance. 

When should you replace the case drain filter?

Filters ensure fluid cleanliness which in turn maximizes the life of the system parts. The level of cleanliness depends on operating pressure and the internal clearances of components in the hydraulic system. Blocked case drain filter drastically increases the motor's hydraulic pressure, resulting in mechanical and hydraulic issues and leading to a total system failure. 

If the color of your filter is dark and dirty instead of brown, it is high time you replaced your filter. If the case drain is blocked, you should disassemble the drain and remaining filters of the hydraulic system and check whether they have a proper cleanliness level.

Please, bear in mind that cleaning the filter or the case drain itself is not advisable. It usually results in further clogging of the filter and may lead to quicker damage to your final drive. Much as replacing the case drain and the filter is inexpensive, changing the entire final drive will be a lot more expensive. 

Work with experts to keep your skid steer running

Case drain maintenance is a crucial part of maintaining the life of your machine. However, it is often overlooked. If your machine needs replacement of the case drain or any other component, browse our shop to find the right part.  

If you have any questions regarding the state of your drain case filter or problems you experience with your skid steer, get in touch immediately. We are not only a supplier but, most of all, the experts in the field of skid steers.