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3 Considerations When Replacing a Hydraulic Cylinder

Hydraulic cylinders can be found in almost every industry, ranging from the food and beverage to marine shipping and construction. Replacing a cylinder may seem like the first option to prevent the failure from occurring again. However, the cost to replace a cylinder is no small amount, and if you do not establish exactly what caused the cylinder to fail then you might replace it with a brand new cylinder only to see the exact same issue reoccur after a short time. So, should you replace a damaged cylinder or opt for a repair instead?

Before a cylinder is replaced or repaired, it is important to address what caused or contributed to the failure so that the replacement does not fall prey to the same weakness. Some signs your hydraulic cylinder needs a repair or replacement would be:

-Your cylinder is leaking. External hydraulic oil leaks, dings/damage to the barrel OD that could be affecting the cylinder barrel ID, damage to the rod, bent, scored, broken or cracked weld around clevis/pin eye are all signs your cylinder may be leaking.

-Cylinder bypass has occurred. If you note the piston nut loosening to the point of coming away from rod, wear strip or bearings worn and the barrel ‘bulging’ in the centre then your hydraulic cylinder may have a “leaked down”.

-Your hydraulic oil is dirty. If metal particles are visible, then chances are they are flowing into the cylinder and causing damage to the internals.

-You have damaged parts: if the barrel, the piston rod, the piston, the cylinder head, the cylinder cap, or any seals or bearings become damaged then the entire cylinder may operate at significantly reduced efficiency or become completely inoperable.

In some cases, a hydraulic cylinder may be so badly damaged that replacement is the only course of action that makes sense, however in many instances cylinder damage can be repaired by skilled professionals back to a near-new condition.

3 Considerations When Replacing a Cylinder:

  1. What is the cost of downtime? Even if the cylinder does not fail very often, there can still be a significant loss associated with waiting for a replacement to be shipped/manufactured and installed.
  2. How frequently does the cylinder need to be replaced? If there are repeated failures, the downtime cost can accumulate quickly. In this situation there is often an underlying issue causing repeated damage, so a replacement won’t be enough to solve the problem.
  3. Are other components being damaged? If the hydraulic cylinder is not functioning correctly it can put stress on other system components. Broken pins, abnormal stresses and accelerated wear in bearings can cause other components to be damaged or fail. This will also drive the costs of the overall system higher.


Benefits of Replacing a Hydraulic Cylinder

Everything in a hydraulic system has an expected life because everything eventually wears out. This is especially true in the case of OEM hydraulic cylinders which are usually made in bulk and not “over-engineered.” When the entire cylinder is replaced all the components are reset and back to new condition.

Benefits of Repairing a Hydraulic Cylinder

In many cases of failure, a specific component fails rather than the entire system. This leaves the remaining parts in excellent condition, so long as the failure is caught relatively quickly. In such cases, only the damaged part needs replacing (as is common with bearing and seal problems). Repairs may also be more economical than replacements. Additionally, in the case of customized cylinders, a repair may involve far less lead time.

To Repair or Not to Repair?

There is a significant amount of information that needs to go into the decision of whether to repair or replace a cylinder. These considerations include the cylinder’s expected life cycle, the lead time involved in a replacement and the costs involving in replacing - not just the short-term economic benefits, but what the cost of repairs or replacement is over the long-term. Determining what caused the failure to occur in the first place is essential to prevent future cylinder failures, for example, was the cylinder simply worn out or are there other underlying problems that need to be addressed before a solution is put into place.

At Hydraulic Distributors, we specialise in repairing damaged hydraulic cylinders and providing on-site maintenance and testing. Contact our engineers today to determine the cause of your hydraulic cylinder failure, as well as any recommendations to prevent it from happening again. 


Get in touch and discuss our Hydraulic Services with one of our experienced staff members.



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