A drive motor is one of the most crucial components in tracked machines. The final drive motor delivers power to the excavator’s tracks. If it fails or malfunctions, the excavator will not function as it should.

Since it’s such a vital part, it’s essential to know the signs that your final drive motor needs to be replaced.

How Does the Final Drive Work?

Final drives are common in tracked excavators and construction equipment. You’ll also find them in vehicles made for difficult terrain.

A final drive is part of the drive unit. It allows more torque at the drive wheels, relieving the stress going to other components. It makes it easier for the excavator to handle rough terrain.

Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Final Drive Motor

Several signs can indicate a failing or damaged final drive motor. Depending on severity, repairs are enough for some issues but some require replacing the final drive motor. 

Leaking Oil From the Cover Plate and Gearbox

The final drive requires gear oil to function well. Without enough oil, the gears may wear out and overheat. It’s, therefore, vital to take immediate action once you see leaking oil.

If the leak is beneath the gearbox cover plate, it could be due to two reasons. The cover plate may be out of shape, or there could be excessive pressure in the gearbox.

Fixing the cover plate is easy, but excessive pressure is dangerous. It can tear the gearbox apart, so consider replacing the final drive motor as soon as you notice oil leaking.

Unusual Vibrations or Noises

Although heavy machinery is generally loud, operators know the normal sounds. If the final drive emits strange or unusual sounds, there’s likely an underlying issue.

For instance, failing bearings can cause vibrations or noise and generate excessive heat. Since the bearings link to other moving parts, such an issue will affect the final drive motor.

Noise could also be a sign of low gear oil levels. If left unattended, these easy-to-fix issues can trigger more serious and expensive problems.

Difficulty Tackling Rough Terrain

An excavator, by design, should be able to handle rough terrain. If the machine struggles to cover such terrain, it may be time to replace the final drive motor. One likely issue is that the motor doesn’t have enough hydraulic pressure.

If the hydraulic pressure is okay, another possible issue is worn-out parts, like the gearbox or motor. Either way, you’ll have to replace the final drive motor.

Excessive Oil in the Gearbox

Excessive oil is as much of an issue as insufficient oil in the gearbox. The gears may generate extreme heat, causing the oil to expand and apply pressure to the seals. The hydraulic pressure also increases, and leaks occur.

If you use proper oil amounts but the gearbox has higher oil levels, there may be an issue with the final drive motor. Replacing this component will help resolve the issue and prevent further problems.

Power Loss

Power loss to the final drive motors is another sign that replacement is due. If the machine keeps drifting to one side and the brakes are okay, it’s likely one final drive has a power issue. Some components may be damaged or worn out.

If you have difficulties going forward or climbing a hill when loaded, an issue may be affecting both motors. For instance, a problem with the swivel joint could be affecting the hydraulic power reaching the final drive motors.

Take Swift Action

The two final drive motors work harmoniously, so they are likely to malfunction or get damaged at the same time. Unless you have extensive experience with final drive motors, trying DIY repairs is never a good idea.

If you notice any of these signs, get in touch with a trained and experienced repair specialist to help you replace the final drive motors.