5 Warning Signs You’re Overworking Your Heavy Equipment

5 Warning Signs You’re Overworking Your Heavy Equipment

Your construction machinery is one of your most important assets. When something goes wrong with it, downtime and maintenance costs can affect project schedules and profits. These are just some of the reasons it’s so important to follow the OEM’s instructions for proper use, perform pre- and post-operation inspections, and be proactive about preventive maintenance. It’s also important to keep an eye out for common warning signs you’re overworking your heavy equipment.

Overextending your machines can lead to excessive wear and tear. It can cause diminished power and efficiency as well as damage. This undermines productivity, necessitates extra maintenance and repairs, leads to more frequent part replacements, and otherwise increases costs and decreases profits.

If your machinery is approaching the end of its service life, or if it’s been overworked, it may be time to replace older heavy equipment and enjoy some of the benefits that come with it. And if you simply don’t have enough equipment to meet the demand of your current jobs, it may be time to extend your fleet and continue to grow.

So, to protect productivity and profits, keep a lookout for these warning signs you’re overworking your heavy equipment.

1. Warning Lights Are On

Hopefully, it comes as no surprise that warning lights are an important warning sign. Sensors in the equipment have detected a problem and a’re bringing it to your attention. Ignoring an illuminated warning light (or covering it up with a piece of electrical tape) doesn’t fix the problem. When indicator lights come on more often than usual, the machine is likely being overworked and underserviced. And if they go out without the problem having been addressed, that’s even worse; it means the light has probably burned out after being on too long or too frequently.

2. Breakdowns

This is one of the more obvious warning signs you’re overworking your heavy equipment. If machines are used properly and serviced regularly, they shouldn’t be breaking down. Downtime is a huge inconvenience that can derail a project schedule, and it can be costly. While machine failure is sometimes an unavoidable part of the business, it’s usually preventable. If it’s happening with any frequency to one or more of your machines, you’re probably pushing them too hard by keeping them in use too long, overextending their capabilities, or neglecting basic maintenance.

3. Fluid Levels Are Often Low

Paying close attention to fluid management is essential for the life and productivity of your machines. If engine or transmission oils, hydraulic fluids, coolants, or other fluids always seem to be low, especially when they’re checked and filled regularly, the equipment is probably being overworked. There’s also a good chance there’s a leak somewhere. If you can’t find it on the outside of the machine, the issue could be something like a broken internal seal. And that often means fluids leaking into other parts of the engine or hydraulic system.

4. Changing Exhaust Color

A vehicle or construction machine’s exhaust can provide important clues to its health. Typically, exhaust should be colorless (though it’s normal for it to have a slightly whitish appearance at startup). If a piece of heavy equipment’s exhaust becomes visible, this is a warning sign you’re overworking your heavy equipment and that something is wrong with it. Here’s some information about different exhaust colors and what they indicate.

5. Strange Noises

Other reliable warning signs you’re overworking your heavy equipment are audible. Operators and other on-site personnel should be acquainted with the normal sounds of the heavy equipment they work with and around. And they should always be listening for changing and new sounds, as this is an important indication that something’s not right. Rattling, clanking, hissing, noticeable changes in the volume or pitch of standard sounds, and other noises mean it’s time for a machine checkup.

Time for new heavy equipment?

Take a look at the rugged, efficient machines available from Trekker.


With over 60 years of history, Trekker Group leverages its management team’s experience, dedicated employees, key partners, top quality brands, and excellent product diversification to provide customers with the highest standards of service in the construction industry.

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