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Don't Forget the Gear Oil

Don't Forget the Gear Oil

Posted by Jim Strong on Mar 28th 2023

Your planetary drive takes a beating on every job, and if it stops working, then everything comes to a grinding halt (literally and figuratively). One of the keys to keeping that final drive running is gear lubricant, the most neglected aspect of final drive motor maintenance.

Let’s quickly review what gear oil is:

Gear oil is a lubricant used to reduce friction and wear in gears. It is typically thicker than engine oil because of its higher viscosity. High viscosity helps it stay in place and provides lubrication under high pressure and heat conditions. As a result, gear oil helps reduce friction and wear while protecting surfaces from corrosion.

Checking Gear Oil Levels

Gear oil levels must be checked every 100 hundred hours or once a month, whichever comes first. There are two reasons for this: first, to ensure the gear oil levels are high enough to protect the planetary system; second, to check for metal debris.

Not having enough gear oil means the gears will start grinding against each other, resulting in accelerated wear, metal contamination in the final drive, and overheating. They’ll also be more susceptible to corrosion. If your gear oil levels aren’t high enough, it’s easy and convenient to top them off with our bag and nozzle design -- just remember that if you have to keep topping it off, you may have a leaking seal.

The plug found on most planetary final drives is magnetic, so it attracts slivers or particles of metal. Pay attention to the inside surface of the plug when you remove it to check or change the gear oil. A significant amount of metal debris means there is wear, and it can be a serious sign that something is wearing out in your planetary system.

Replacing Gear Oil

Replace your gear oil once a year. The main reason behind this is aging: the oil will begin to degrade chemically over time. As it degrades, essential additives break down to the point where they don’t do their job anymore. And sometimes, those chemicals will react with each other as they break down and leave a sludge on the parts inside the planetary.

Our technicians here at Final Drive Parts are very familiar with oil gear oil. So if we open up a drive and see a dark-colored pudding that smells like the very gates of Hell (smells like sulfur) then we know it hasn’t been changed enough. And keeping that gear oil changed is important enough that it can void your warranty.

Using the Right Gear Oil

WFP Gear Oil

The experienced technicians here at Final Drive Parts are experts in final drive motors and know how to keep your compact equipment running. And to help, we've developed our own Ultra Performance in-house gear lubricant that's specifically formulated for planetary gearboxes and high-heat applications. It comes in a convenient plastic bag with a built-in nozzle that makes it easier to add gear oil to your system without introducing contaminants. And it’s ideal for Kubota, Caterpillar, Bobcat, Volvo, John Deere, and Hitachi equipment.


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