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How Undercarriage Condition Can Impact Travel Motors

You may already know that your undercarriage accounts for a good portion of your overall excavator M&O costs. What you may not realize is that failure to maintain your undercarriage can adversely affect the performance of your travel motor. In this Shop Talk Blog post, you can learn how the condition of your undercarriage can impact your travel motor.

How Undercarriage Condition Can Impact Travel Motors

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A Dirty Undercarriage Can Destroy a Travel Motor

It is important to keep the undercarriage on your excavator or CTL clean. Not only is a buildup of debris hard on things like rollers, idlers, and tracks, but that buildup can lead to serious damage to your travel motor. As dirt, sand, and gravel begin to pack in around your travel motor, it can compromise the face seals. Enough debris can start to push those face seals apart, which means that fluids leak out and very damaging contaminants make their way in. In just a short time a travel motor can be totaled just because debris damaged a critical seal. An excellent example of this is shown in the figure below. Also, remember that tightly packed debris can affect your track tension.




Incorrect Track Tension Can Make a Travel Motor Seem Weak

We’ve talked before about how tracks that are too tight can cause your travel motor to seem weak. You might notice your excavator steering to one side, or maybe it just can’t make it up inclines like it used to. Even though it isn’t a problem with your travel motor, tight tracks can significantly impact the performance of your travel motor. Tracks that are too loose or too tight can cause excessive wear to undercarriage components, also.  This is true for excavators as well as CTLs and MTLs.


Track tension on your excavator should be checked every 10 to 15 hours of machine use. Your owner’s manual will have the guidelines you need to evaluate track tension and adjust it. Experts recommend that you adjust the track tension on site, preferably after running your machine for about 30 minutes. That allows your machine and your tracks to acclimate to the work conditions better. You might also want to check the track tension after you clean out the undercarriage if it was full of tightly packed debris.



 Worn Out Tracks Can Impact Travel Motor Performance


Also, keep in mind that if your tracks are worn out, they can also affect how well your travel motor performs. A pair of badly worn tracks on an otherwise good machine will not work well. The same is true for idlers, rollers, and sprockets: when these components begin to wear out, your final drive won’t be as effective. Tracks should be inspected on a regular basis for signs of abnormal or uneven wear.

Rollers, idlers, and sprockets should be regularly inspected, too. When these components begin to wear out, your final drive won’t be able to propel your machine as well. 

Here’s one more tip to remember: if your tracks are frozen to the ground, don’t try to force them to move. Wait for warmer weather unless you want to want to put excessive wear on your undercarriage and your final drive motor.


A poorly maintained undercarriage can result in a poorly performing travel motor. Don’t neglect inspection and maintenance of your undercarriage if you want your excavator to move efficiently.


Texas Final Drive is your partner in providing new or remanufactured final drive hydraulic motors from a single mini-excavator to a fleet of heavy equipment. Call today so we can find the right final drive or hydraulic component for you, or check out our online store to find your O.E.M. manufacturer brand motor now.

Visit the Final Drive Shop for all of your hydraulic final drive motor needs!

EATON Excavator Final Drive Motors Cheat Sheet CTA

Topics: Mini-excavators, Compact Excavators, MTL, CTL

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