How To Check The Hydraulic Oil Level On An Excavator

When operating an excavator, it’s essential to keep an eye on the hydraulic oil level to ensure the machine runs smoothly and efficiently. After all, hydraulic oil is the lifeblood of any hydraulic system, and low levels can lead to poor performance or even damage.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to check the hydraulic oil level on your excavator, as well as some tips for maintaining the proper oil condition.

Before diving into the process, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and ensure that you’re taking the necessary precautions. We’ll cover these safety measures, help you locate the hydraulic oil tank, teach you how to assess the oil condition, and discuss refilling and maintenance.

By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your excavator’s hydraulic system in tip-top shape. So, let’s get started!

Safety Precautions Before Checking

Before you dive into checking the hydraulic oil level, make sure you’ve taken all the necessary safety precautions!

Wearing proper protective gear is essential to keep yourself safe from any potential hazards. This includes gloves, safety goggles, and steel-toed boots.

In addition, ensure that the equipment is in a stable position and on level ground to prevent any accidental movement or tipping.

Before attempting to check the hydraulic oil level, it’s crucial to shut down the equipment completely. Turn off the engine, remove the key, and allow the excavator to cool down for a few minutes to avoid burns from hot surfaces.

Also, make sure the hydraulic system is depressurized by operating the controls in all directions after turning off the engine.

By taking these safety precautions, you’ll be ready to check the hydraulic oil level on your excavator without any risks.

Locate the Hydraulic Oil Tank

First off, you’ll need to find the hydraulic oil tank on your excavator to assess its contents. Hydraulic tank placement can vary depending on the make and model of your excavator, but it’s typically located near the engine compartment or hydraulic pump.

To find the tank, refer to your excavator’s owner’s manual for its exact location or look for a large, cylindrical or rectangular container with a sight glass or dipstick. In some cases, the hydraulic oil tank may have a label or symbol indicating its purpose.

Tank accessibility is essential when checking the hydraulic oil level, so make sure you can safely reach the tank without any obstructions. In some instances, you may need to remove panels or covers to access the tank, especially in more compact excavator models.

When you have located and gained access to the hydraulic oil tank, you’ll be ready to check the oil levels and ensure your excavator is operating efficiently and safely.

Check the Hydraulic Oil Level

Now that you’ve located the hydraulic oil tank on your excavator, it’s time to check the hydraulic oil level.

Start by reading the sight glass markings, which will give you a general idea of the oil level.

For a more accurate measurement, use the dipstick provided to ensure your excavator has the right amount of hydraulic oil for optimal performance.

Read the sight glass markings

You’ll feel like a pro as you read the sight glass markings, ensuring your excavator’s hydraulic oil level is on point for optimal performance.

Sight glass types vary, but they all serve the same purpose: to provide a clear view of the hydraulic oil level inside the reservoir. The most common sight glass types are the tube, circle, and bullseye glasses. Tube and circle glasses usually have visible markings or graduations, while bullseye glasses typically have a red disc that indicates the oil level. Regardless of the type, understanding the marking interpretation is crucial for maintaining the correct hydraulic oil level in your excavator.

To read the sight glass markings accurately, first locate the sight glass on the hydraulic oil reservoir. Make sure the excavator is on level ground and the engine is off. Once you’ve found the sight glass, look for the markings, which might be lines, numbers, or color-coded sections.

The markings will help you determine if the oil level is within the acceptable range. If the oil level is too low, you’ll need to add hydraulic oil until it reaches the proper level on the sight glass. If it’s too high, you may need to drain some oil to prevent overfilling.

Keep in mind that the oil level may change when the machine is running, so always check it when the engine is off and the hydraulic system is at rest.

Use the dipstick to measure oil level

By using the dipstick to measure the oil level, you’re taking an essential step towards ensuring your machine’s longevity and optimal performance. The dipstick is a simple yet effective tool that can provide you with accurate information about the current state of your excavator’s hydraulic system.

Dipstick accuracy is crucial to prevent overfilling or underfilling the oil, which can lead to potential damage and costly repairs. Additionally, it’s important to remember that different oil types may have different viscosity levels, so be sure to consult your excavator’s manual for the recommended oil type and level.

To use the dipstick, first locate it on your excavator, typically found near the hydraulic oil tank. Make sure the machine is on level ground and the hydraulic system is cool before checking the oil level.

Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth, and reinsert it fully into the hydraulic oil tank. After a few moments, remove it again and read the oil level on the dipstick’s markings. If necessary, add the appropriate oil type to reach the recommended level.

After topping off the oil, reinsert the dipstick and recheck the level to ensure accuracy. Remember that maintaining the correct hydraulic oil level is key to keeping your excavator running smoothly and efficiently.

Assess the Oil Condition

It’s essential to assess the oil condition, as this not only ensures the correct oil level but also helps identify any potential issues with the hydraulic system. Oil contamination can lead to reduced performance, damage to components, and even complete system failure.

Additionally, checking the oil condition can help you spot hydraulic leaks early on, allowing you to fix the problem before it becomes more severe and costly. When examining the oil, look for signs of contamination such as dirt, water, or metal particles. The oil should be a clear, amber color and free of any debris.

If you notice any milky or cloudy appearance, it may indicate water contamination, while dark oil may be a sign of overheating or excessive wear within the system. Should you find any signs of contamination or hydraulic leaks, it’s crucial to address these issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the smooth operation of your excavator.

Refilling and Maintenance

Keeping your machine running smoothly involves proper refilling and maintenance, ensuring a longer lifespan and optimal performance. One crucial aspect of this is preventing hydraulic leaks, which can lead to oil contamination risks and decreased efficiency.

Regularly inspect hoses, fittings, and seals for any signs of wear or damage, and replace them as needed to keep the hydraulic system in top shape. Additionally, keep the work area clean to reduce the chances of contaminants entering the hydraulic system.

When refilling hydraulic oil, it’s essential to use the correct type and viscosity recommended by the manufacturer, as using the wrong oil can cause damage to the system. Always use a clean, sealed container and a clean funnel to avoid introducing any contaminants into the system.

After refilling, make sure to properly dispose of used oil and materials in accordance with local regulations. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of oil contamination and ensure the longevity and efficiency of your excavator’s hydraulic system.


In conclusion, it’s essential for you to regularly check your excavator’s hydraulic oil level and condition. This helps ensure smooth operation and prevents potential damage to your equipment.

Remember to always follow safety precautions and consult your owner’s manual for any specific instructions. By keeping an eye on your hydraulic oil, you’ll keep your excavator running at its best, saving you time and money in the long run.

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