Backhoes are staples of fleets of all sizes. Many larger construction companies have dedicated maintenance personnel, but often it’s the operators’ responsibility to carry out basic daily or weekly preventive maintenance for backhoe loaders and other heavy equipment. Even if it’s not, it’s still a best practice for job site safety and productivity.
Of course, preventive maintenance is so important to keeping machines running at peak power, efficiency, and safety. And it keeps operational costs down over time, helping to avoid more expensive problems and repairs and extending the life of heavy equipment.
Here are the important aspects of basic preventive maintenance for backhoe loaders to keep yours as productive and downtime-free as possible.
Tackling Preventive Maintenance for Backhoe Loaders
- Refer to the backhoe owner’s manual to familiarize yourself with all the manufacturer-recommended maintenance and intervals
- Look over the entire machine before and after operation, inspecting for leaks, damage, or other signs of problems
- Be sure to check around the backhoe and loader arms, where the machine is heavily stressed; cracks in the paint could indicate structural cracks, so they need to be inspected further before additional use
- Check tire pressure and condition pre- and post-flight; backhoe loaders travel more than a lot of other heavy equipment, making this even more critical
- Inspect hoses, belts, and auxiliary connections before and after each use as well
- Take a look at all buckets and attachments before and after operation to make sure they’re in good shape and properly engaged
- Confirm that all the machine’s safety features are working correctly
- Make sure hoses are properly tied and secured near the stick and boom as explained in the OEM manual
- Pay close attention to fluid management, and check the oil and hydraulic fluid levels pre- and post-flight
- Store your ISO 22241-compliant diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) properly in a cool, dry place, protected from all contamination and learn about Tier 4 engine requirements
- Use organic acid technology (OAT) coolant if your backhoe takes it and don’t ever mix it with conventional coolants or use a type not specified in the owner’s manual
- Consult the machine’s manual to ensure use of an appropriate oil; use CJ-4 low-ash oil in your Tier 4 backhoes
- Use kits for fluid testing and have your samples tested
- Grease bucket, loader arm, extendahoe, and other joints daily (or according to OEM recommendations); stretch these parts out before use and listen for grinding sounds or other noises around pins, bushings, pivot points, and bearing joints—then grease as needed
- Avoid engine idling as much as possible
- Clean off dirt and debris after each shift so it doesn’t have a chance to harden or clog
- All operators should be trained in the safe and proper operation of backhoe loaders and their preventive maintenance responsibilities