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Home > Blog > What You Need to Know About Drive Motor Contamination

What You Need to Know About Drive Motor Contamination

When people think of major breakdowns with heavy equipment, they tend to think the cause of it might have to do with a collision or another more dramatic event. As it turns out, one of the biggest reasons why a final drive motor might be lacking in performance can come from the smallest piece of dirt. Even top-tier brands like Caterpillar, Bobcat, and Kubota can get contaminated on the worksite if not properly cared for. Because this can happen so easily, construction workers need to be knowledgeable on how to spot contamination, the dangers it can cause, and how it happens. Like most machinery, there also need to be some preventative measures taken to avoid potential problems in the future. To follow through with excavator maintenance, here's what you need to know about drive motor contamination.


There are several dangers that can come to your final driver motor if there is contamination. The main reason why you need to be on the lookout for potential contamination in your final drive motor is because it's a common culprit of failure. Many final drive motors tend to fall victim to contamination because operators don't know how to detect it, which is why you need to become as knowledgeable as possible to prevent breakdowns and thousands of dollars spent on repairs.


To save money on repairs and setbacks, operators need to be fully aware of signs that point to contamination. If you start to hear loud noises or notice excessive heat and leakage from your final drive, it can lead to breakdowns and point you towards a contamination issue. While there could be several causes of final drive failure, contamination is incredibly common, which is why you should keep contamination and its preventative measures in mind.

How it Happens

Contamination in final drive motors is very common because of all the elements located in a construction site. This is due to all the dirt, dust, debris, debris, paint, casting sand, and other contaminants that can easily fall into your equipment. There's no changing the environment of construction work, so the better option is to change how you take care of and use your final drive motor, as contamination is often inevitable.

Different Types

When it comes to final drive motor contamination, there is more than just one kind that can be threatening. There's a lot a motor can be exposed to in a construction environment and it's vital that you are prepared for it. Here are some different types of final drive motor contamination.

Particulate Contamination

The first kind of contamination that occurs in final drive motors' hydraulic fluid is particulate contamination. This type of contamination refers to particles such as dirt, dust, sand, fibers, rust flakes, grit, and others. These are particles that shouldn't be in the fluid, but because they are so small, the fluid can get contaminated easily without you detecting it. With particulate contamination, your motor can undergo damage that can hinder its longevity if you don't stay on top of it regularly.

Non-Particulate Contamination

Operators also need to be aware of non-particulate contamination, which can come in the form of contamination due to water, air, and chemicals. Once again, this is a type of contamination that occurs in the hydraulic fluid that can cause severe damage to a motor. For instance, water might be a fluid, but it can still be bad for your motor because it can prevent the fluid from acting as a lubricant, thus causing cavitation and sludge. On the other hand, hydraulic fluid contaminated with air will appear foamy and can also lead to cavitation, which can be spotted by loud sounds. Non-particulate contamination can also occur with degraded hydraulic fluid. Degraded fluid is another form of non-particulate contamination and can occur if the fluid is exposed to elevated temperature over time. A motor's performance can be affected a great deal since the additives can start to decompose and turn into new chemicals.

How to Avoid

There are several ways you can avoid contamination in your final drive motor which could otherwise negatively affect your excavator's performance. The main way is to keep up with regular maintenance, which you can accomplish in a few different ways.

Filter Fluid

Contaminants in your hydraulic fluid are an easy problem to come across because the particles can be invisible to the naked eye. Plus, the particles being in a fluid makes them harder to spot as well. To avoid any contaminants in your hydraulic fluid, you should make sure you filter it. By doing so, you can get rid of any particulate and non-particulate contamination before you add the fluid to your motor's system.

The next way you can stay on top of any contamination in your final motor drive is to inspect the seals. The reason for this type of maintenance is because particles tend to enter a motor through a seal, so if the seal isn't up to standard, then it can lead to contamination if leaking or damaged. If this is the case, replace the seals.

It's also important that you check filters often. By performing this type of maintenance and replacing the filters and breathers when necessary, you can prevent contamination. It's also important that you change your fluid often as well. Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations to find out when the best time for replacement is.

Another thing to keep in mind is to that if there is a leak, fluid might be getting out, but that means contaminants can get in as well. Therefore, you need to find the source of leakage and repair it instead of just adding more fluid. Also, when you do perform any repairs, make sure you are doing so in a clean environment so you don't run the risk of any contaminants entering the system when areas of the motor are exposed.

After following our guide on what you need to know about drive motor contamination, you may now realize how fatal something so miniscule can be to your entire excavator. Therefore, contamination is a common issue many construction workers must deal with. Like most pieces of heavy machinery, regular maintenance is the key to the drive motor's longevity, in addition to being an effective way to prevent breakdowns. If you happen to run into a situation where you do need excavator final drive parts, you can find what you need at Mini Final Drives.

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