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Home > Blog > Possible Causes for a Weak Travel Motor

Possible Causes for a Weak Travel Motor

Your business is only as good as your equipment. If your machinery doesn't operate properly, you can't meet your customers' needs. Whether you are dealing with an excavator, mini-excavator, or another piece of heavy machinery, when a problem happens, being able to identify it quickly can help to get you back to business sooner.

Bobcat, Caterpillar, John Deere, or Komatsu, it doesn't matter what brand your equipment is. Eventually, every piece of machinery is likely going to need some kind of troubleshooting.In this article, we're going to look at the causes of a weak final drive. While a weak travel motor may result from a failure within the drive itself, there can be other causes from adjacent systems, too. Let's explore both possibilities.

Case Drain Filter

Little things can cause big problems. Excavator operators can overlook a clogged case drain filter, which allows pressure to build up in the case drain line. Cleaning or replacing the filter can restore a final drive's smooth operation.

Excess Track Friction

An excavator's tracks can impact the function of the travel motor. Too much track tension means that additional torque is needed from the final drive. This extra power requirement reduces the ability of the final drive to perform well.

If the tracks appear to be at the correct level of tension, inspect the idlers, rollers, and the track itself for any parts that may be failing.

Excavator Swivel Joint

An excavator swivel joint is usually out of sight, so it may also be out of mind. But leaks in this area should be one of the first things you look for. Also known as a rotary manifold or center swivel, the swivel joint enables the housing to turn while maintaining correct hydraulic pressure. A leaking swivel joint seal is a fairly common problem, especially when the equipment approaches 5,000 hours of use.

Underpowered Charge Pump

A screeching noise that's accompanied by a power outage is a classic sign of a weak charge pump on a skid steer or track loader. It might feel like driving with an engaged emergency brake when the charge pump is receiving insufficient pressure. Rule out charge pump problems, including oil pressure and flow problems, before attempting to repair or replace the final drive.

Final Drive Hydraulics

Problems with the hydraulic system can also cause problems with your final drive. A low level of hydraulic oil translates into reduced power. A quick check of the hydraulic oil could resolve the problem with your equipment.

Speed Control System

Before you spend time and money to replace a final drive motor, be sure to check the speed control system to see if your travel motor is stuck in high-speed mode. Some kinds of equipment have two speed settings, which can impact their performance. While this is not an everyday occurrence, if your machinery is only steering to one side or if it has problems traveling up steep grades, this might be your problem.


It's essential to identify possible causes for a weak final drive before spending the money on a replacement. A malfunctioning track, poorly maintained hydraulic system, or a blocked case drain filter can cause problems to resurface again, even if your excavator gets a new travel motor. Be sure to exhaust all of the other possibilities before you invest in a new final drive.

Preventative Measures

While you can't fend off every kind of malfunction, there are a few steps that you can take to proactively maintain your final drive, reducing the likelihood of downtime. These include:

  1. Review Your Service Manual and Key Documents: Manufacturer guides provide basic operational information about an excavator or other kinds of machinery. They can provide details about how often you should perform maintenance on your equipment. Check your manual and your warranties to make sure that you're properly caring for your equipment from the start.
  2. Keep a Maintenance Schedule: Chances are that the warranties on your equipment are dependent on regular maintenance being done on the machine. Keep track of how often you're performing basic tasks like oil and filter changes to make sure that your equipment can operate at its peak efficiency.
  3. Establish a Troubleshooting Guide: If your service manual doesn't include a troubleshooting guide, consider creating your own (or expanding on what the service manual offers). It's easy to write down a few predefined steps that can be used to identify basic mechanical problems. A troubleshooting guide can be especially convenient offsite, when you may need to have an equipment operator investigate a problem remotely.

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Bobcat, Caterpillar, Hitachi, John Deere, Komatsu, and Kubota are just some of the superior heavy equipment part brands offered at Our family-owned company is nationally recognized for our extensive selection of new OEM Final Drive Motors with Travel Motors. Call us today for responsive service and ultra-fast shipping!

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  • Manufacturers' trademarked names, models, part numbers, symbols, and related descriptions are provided for reference only to help you with finding the right aftermarket replacement final drive for your machine. This reference information does not imply that any items for sale are the product of those referenced manufacturers and does not imply that L&M HydraComm LLC is an authorized source nor agent of the referenced machine manufacturers.