CE Advisors Spend 55 Percent on Crawler Dozer Repairs

Sept. 28, 2010
Crawler Dozer Lifetime Repair Costs

Twenty-eight percent of owners of crawler dozers from 260 to 520 hp spend more than the dozer purchase price on repairs over the life of machines. Most of those (19 percent) spend between 100 and 124 percent of first cost.

Owners of smaller dozers (75 to 129 hp) are equally likely to sell their machines at 20, 35 or 50 percent of original purchase price. Thirty-six percent of dozers in the 130- to 259-hp range are sold at 5 to 19 percent of first cost.

More than 80 percent of managers turn undercarriage pins and bushings, but only about 59 percent of track chain is replaced when pin-and-bushing wear is close to track-chain wear.

Most aggressive managers of crawler-dozer costs spend 25 to 49 percent of their machine's original purchase price on repairs before replacing them, and get 20 to 34 percent of their purchase price back at resale. Construction Equipment's Reader Advisory Board, a hand-selected a group of contractors who've invested in accurate control of equipment costs, tell us that residual values are likely to run as high as half of first cost.

This reader survey, co-sponsored by Case Construction Equipment, focused on the reader advisory panel's experience with crawler dozers. Responses were evenly dispersed throughout the country, and more than 70 percent were highway-and-heavy-construction contractors. All firms on the advisory panel have fleet values greater than $5 million, and overall the median fleet value is about $40 million.

Half of CE advisors explain that the most common causes of premature undercarriage failure had to do with operator error, or poor daily maintenance. It's not uncommon to blame equipment problems on operators, but it is significant that even among this conscientious group of equipment managers, 21 percent specifically point out improper track-chain tension or running tight, packed track as the primary reason for premature undercarriage failure. Because track-chain tension changes with underfoot conditions, dozer operators are considered to be the only people close enough to a tractor's operations to properly maintain chain tension.

Less than 11 percent of reasons for premature track failure suggest dry pin-and-bushing joints.

Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of CE advisors say the most effective method they've used to extend undercarriage life had to do with improving preventive maintenance, most commonly keeping tracks clean and maintaining proper chain tension. Several of these answers specifically mentioned using a vendor's on-site track service.

Only 16 percent of responses indicated that spending more money on undercarriage — buying sealed and lubricated track, rock guards, severe-service parts, or turning pins and bushings or replacing parts more frequently — was their key to extending undercarriage life. Of course, there's no way to tell how many CE advisors invest in these premium undercarriage parts, but named something else as their most effective weapon against premature track wear.

Reader Advisory Board research is co-sponsored by Case Construction Equipment.