Troubleshooting Chart for Hydraulic Cylinders

Most of the hydraulic system failures are similar. That is there is a sudden or gradual loss of pressure or flow. Consequently, cylinders and motors in these systems may stop working. Any of the system components can be at fault.

Possible causesRectification
Damaged/worn seals-Replace seals
Excessive rod wear-Prevent wear
Rod damaged-Replace rod
Rod seized-Repair 
Faulty alignment-Align properly
Broken linkages-Replace damaged linkages
Loose mountings-Tighten mounting bolts
Jerky movement-Assemble piston packing correctly
-Avoid heavy load  at slow speed
No thrust-Replace faulty piston
-Prevent excessive leakage
-Set PRV to correct pressure
Abnormal cylinder thrust-Bleed cylinder of entrained air
-Check and set cylinder cushion
Erratic operation 
Air in system-Clean filters
-Replace worn seals
-Drain and flush fluid
-Change system fluid
-Fill reservoir to proper level
-Tighten leaking connections
-Bleed air from system
-Replace worn shaft/seal
Cylinder/valve sticking/binding-Remove dirt/gummy deposit
-Remove fluid contamination
-Remove worn parts
-Install seals properly
Cylinder internal leakage   – Repair or replace worn parts
–Tighten loose packing
-Use medium viscosity fluid  
-Control fluid contamination
-Control wear


Categories of malfunctions in hydraulic systems in terms of its general disturbances, and their possible causes and rectification are presented in the above books. Further, the component-wise malfunctions and their potential causes and rectification are also presented.

Joji Parambath


Fluidsys Training Centre

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