How Can You Tell If A Hydraulic Pump Is Failing?

Imagine this: you’re working on a hydraulic system and suddenly, you notice a decrease in performance. You start to wonder if the hydraulic pump is failing. But how can you be sure? In this article, we will explore some telltale signs that indicate your hydraulic pump might be on its last legs. From strange noises to sluggish movements, we will uncover the secrets to detecting a failing hydraulic pump. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of hydraulic pumps!

Visual Inspection

Check for leaks

During a visual inspection of your hydraulic pump, it is important to check for any leaks. Look for any signs of fluid dripping or pooling around the pump or any of its components. Leaks can indicate worn or damaged seals, loose fittings, or cracks in the pump body. It is crucial to address any leaks promptly as they can lead to a loss of fluid and potential damage to the system.

Look for excessive noise or vibrations

Another visual clue that your hydraulic pump may be failing is the presence of excessive noise or vibrations. While some noise and vibration are normal in hydraulic systems, an increase in intensity or duration may indicate a problem. Pay attention to any rattling, grinding, or whining noises, as well as noticeable vibrations. These can be a result of worn bearings, misaligned components, or internal damage within the pump.

Inspect for excessive heat

When conducting a visual inspection, take note of the pump’s operating temperature. If the pump feels excessively hot to the touch, it could be a sign of trouble. Elevated temperatures can result from various issues, such as fluid contamination, inadequate cooling, or excessive internal friction. Overheating can lead to reduced pump performance and accelerated wear of components, so it is essential to address this issue promptly.

Check for worn or damaged components

Lastly, carefully inspect the pump and its components for any signs of wear or damage. Look for things like worn gears, cracked housings, or damaged shafts. Pay attention to any visible signs of corrosion or erosion as well. These issues can impact pump performance and reliability. If you notice any worn or damaged components, it may be necessary to repair or replace them to prevent further damage to the hydraulic pump.

Fluid Analysis

Monitor fluid level and condition

One way to assess the health of your hydraulic pump is through fluid analysis. Regularly monitor the fluid level to ensure it is within the recommended range. Additionally, pay attention to the fluid’s condition. Check for signs of contamination, such as debris, water, or air bubbles in the fluid. Cloudy or discolored fluid can also be an indication of contamination or degradation. Monitoring and maintaining the proper fluid level and condition is essential for optimal pump performance and longevity.

Check for contamination

Contaminated fluid can significantly impact the functioning of a hydraulic pump. During fluid analysis, it is crucial to check for contamination. This can include particles, dirt, or debris that can clog or damage pump components. Water or air bubbles in the fluid can also be signs of contamination. If you detect any contamination, it is important to identify the source and take appropriate measures to prevent further contamination.

Test fluid viscosity and temperature

Fluid viscosity and temperature are critical factors in hydraulic pump performance. During fluid analysis, it is recommended to test the viscosity and temperature of the fluid. Viscosity refers to the fluid’s resistance to flow and can be affected by factors like temperature and contamination. Deviations from the recommended viscosity range can indicate problems with the pump or fluid. Additionally, monitoring fluid temperature helps identify potential overheating issues. Regularly testing these parameters can help identify potential pump failures or fluid-related problems.

Pressure and Flow Testing

Monitor system pressure

Monitoring the system pressure is an important aspect of assessing the health of a hydraulic pump. The pressure reading can indicate whether the pump is generating the required pressure for proper system operation. Deviations from the recommended pressure range can suggest issues such as worn components, valve malfunctions, or fluid problems. Regularly monitoring and recording system pressure can help identify potential pump failures or system inefficiencies.

Check for pressure drops

In addition to monitoring the system pressure, it is crucial to check for pressure drops during operation. Pressure drops can occur due to several reasons, including restricted flow, leaks, or component failures. Sudden or significant pressure drops may indicate issues with the pump or other system components. Regularly checking for pressure drops allows for timely detection and resolution of problems, ensuring the hydraulic pump operates optimally.

Test flow rate

The flow rate of fluid through the hydraulic pump is another important parameter to assess its performance. An inadequate flow rate can indicate issues such as pump wear, internal leaks, or valve malfunctions. Testing the flow rate involves measuring the volume of fluid passing through the pump within a specified time. Deviations from the recommended flow rate can be indicative of pump failure or system inefficiencies. Regularly testing the flow rate helps ensure optimal pump performance and system functionality.

Performance Issues

Difficulty in starting or stopping

When a hydraulic pump is failing, you may encounter difficulty in starting or stopping the pump. If you notice that the pump takes longer than usual to start or experiences delays in stopping after disengagement, it could indicate internal issues or wear. Difficulty in starting or stopping can affect the overall efficiency and reliability of the hydraulic system.

Inconsistent or weak performance

Performance issues can manifest as inconsistencies or weakness in the pump’s output. You may notice fluctuations in system pressure or flow rate, resulting in inconsistent operation. Weak performance can affect the system’s ability to carry out tasks efficiently and reliably. If you experience inconsistent or weak performance, it is essential to identify and address the underlying cause promptly.

Loss of power

A failing hydraulic pump can also result in a noticeable loss of power within the system. This can manifest as a decrease in the force or speed of hydraulic actuators or a reduced ability to handle loads. Loss of power may be caused by worn pump components, inadequate fluid flow, or other system-related issues. It is crucial to investigate and rectify the cause of the power loss to maintain optimal system performance.


High fluid temperature

High fluid temperature is a significant indicator of potential hydraulic pump failure. If you notice that the fluid temperature is consistently higher than normal during operation, it can suggest problems with the pump or the system. Elevated temperatures can lead to accelerated wear of components, increased thermal stresses, and reduced fluid viscosity, negatively impacting pump performance. Monitoring and controlling fluid temperature within the recommended range is crucial for the pump’s health and overall system efficiency.

Excessive heat generation

Excessive heat generation can be observed not only in the fluid but also in the pump itself. If the pump becomes excessively hot during operation, it can indicate internal friction, inadequate cooling, or other issues. Excessive heat generation can lead to pump inefficiencies, premature component failure, and decreased system performance. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of excessive heat generation is essential to prevent further damage and maintain optimal pump operation.

Noise and Vibration

Unusual noise

Unusual noise coming from the hydraulic pump or the surrounding system components can be a clear sign of a failing pump. Listen for any sounds such as rattling, grinding, or whining that are different from normal operation. These noises can indicate issues like worn bearings, misalignment, or damaged internal components. Addressing unusual noise promptly can help prevent further damage and ensure proper pump functionality.

Excessive vibration

Excessive vibration can accompany unusual noise and is another indicator of potential pump failure. If you notice increased vibration during pump operation, it can suggest problems with pump components, misalignment, or imbalanced loads. Excessive vibration can lead to accelerated wear, decreased system performance, and potential safety hazards. Addressing the root cause of vibration is crucial to maintain a reliable and efficient hydraulic pump.


Fluid leaks

Fluid leaks are an obvious visual indicator of pump failure. Check for any signs of fluid dripping, pooling, or spraying around the pump or its components. Leaks can occur due to worn or damaged seals, loose fittings, or cracks in the pump body. Fluid leaks not only lead to loss of valuable hydraulic fluid but also pose a risk of system contamination and reduced pump performance. Promptly addressing fluid leaks is essential to prevent further damage and ensure the proper functioning of the hydraulic pump.

Seal leaks

In addition to fluid leaks, specifically be on the lookout for seal leaks within the pump. Seals play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the hydraulic system and preventing fluid leakage. If you notice any signs of seal leaks, such as fluid escaping past the seals or visible wear, it indicates seal failure. Addressing seal leaks promptly is important to prevent excessive fluid loss, contamination, and potential pump damage.

Component Wear

Worn or damaged pump components

Inspecting the hydraulic pump for worn or damaged components is an essential part of pump maintenance. Look for signs of wear, such as worn gear teeth, cracked housings, or damaged shafts. Component wear can be caused by various factors, including prolonged usage, operating beyond the pump’s capacity, or inadequate lubrication. Identifying and addressing worn or damaged pump components timely is crucial to ensure optimal pump performance and prevent further damage.

Excessive wear in other system components

In addition to pump components, excessive wear in other system components can also indicate pump failure. Check for wear in valves, cylinders, hoses, or filters. Excessive wear can be a result of inadequate fluid filtration, contaminated fluid, or misalignment. Addressing excessive wear in system components is essential to prevent further damage and maintain the overall performance and reliability of the hydraulic system.

Excessive Load

Struggling to handle load

If you notice that the hydraulic pump is struggling to handle the load it is designed for, it can indicate a failing pump. Signs include decreased speed or force of hydraulic actuators or a system pressure that drops significantly under load. Struggling to handle the load can be caused by worn pump components, insufficient fluid flow, or other system-related issues. It is important to address this issue promptly to prevent overloading the pump and potential system damage.

Pressure drops under load

Pressure drops under load are another indication of a failing hydraulic pump. If you observe a significant decrease in system pressure when the pump is under load, it can suggest issues such as worn components or internal leaks. Pressure drops can lead to reduced system efficiency, compromised performance, and potential damage to other components. Regularly monitoring and addressing pressure drops is crucial to maintain proper pump functionality and overall system performance.

Inadequate Maintenance

Lack of proper lubrication

Inadequate lubrication is a common cause of hydraulic pump failure. Lubrication is crucial for reducing friction and wear between moving components within the pump. If the pump lacks proper lubrication, it can cause excessive heat generation, accelerated wear, and increased risk of component failure. Regularly inspect and ensure proper lubrication of the pump to prevent unnecessary damage and maintain optimal pump performance.

Neglecting regular maintenance routines

Neglecting regular maintenance routines can significantly impact the lifespan and performance of a hydraulic pump. Regular maintenance tasks, such as fluid changes, filter replacements, and inspections, help identify potential issues and ensure proper functioning. Failure to adhere to these maintenance routines can lead to a higher risk of pump failure, decreased system efficiency, and increased repair costs. It is crucial to follow the recommended maintenance schedules and guidelines provided by the pump manufacturer to maximize pump reliability and longevity.

In conclusion, several signs can indicate a failing hydraulic pump. Conducting a visual inspection, monitoring fluid analysis, pressure and flow testing, and addressing performance issues are all essential steps in assessing the health of the pump. Monitoring temperature, noise, vibration, leakage, component wear, load handling, and maintenance practices are key factors in ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of a hydraulic pump. Promptly addressing any signs of pump failure can help prevent further damage, maintain system efficiency, and reduce downtime.