4 Tips for Undercarriage Care

March 25, 2021

Regularly inspecting equipment is always worthwhile to prevent future downtime and lengthen the life of your machine, and a machine’s undercarriage is especially important to keep an eye on.

Jared Haughton, Volvo CE's product sales manager for used equipment, offers inspection tips and advice for crawler undercarriages.

"The undercarriage supports the total weight of the machine and is continuously subjected to rocks and other obstacles when in operation," Haughton says. "Many of its parts are exposed to constant wear and stress. It’s also the most expensive part of an excavator. By keeping the undercarriage in good condition, you can count on improved safety and efficiency from the machine."

Haughton recommends conducting a visual inspection once a week or every 40 operating hours, which means technicians and operators should be doing inspections in addition to any efforts undertaken by a dealer.

"Visual undercarriage inspections should not replace regularly scheduled undercarriage management," Haughton cautions. "Proper undercarriage management entails measuring undercarriages, tracking wear, replacing worn components, and swapping component positions to extend the total undercarriage life. You’ll need conversation charts for each brand of undercarriages to convert them to percent worn."

How to inspect crawler undercarriages

  • Clean the machine before an inspection. To do an inspection on the machine, it should be somewhat clean for the sake of accuracy. Although this may be time-consuming, cleaning the undercarriage regularly will keep the it in a better condition, make it easier to see issues at an early stage and lessen the wear on the components.
  • Measure the track tension and document the results. Make adjustments to the track tension if necessary and document the adjustments as well. You can find the correct track tension in the operator manual.
  • Inspect track components. When inspecting the machine, go through one side at a time, and use the downloadable inspection checklist attached below. Keep in mind that the sprocket is at the rear of the machine and the idler is in the front, so the right and left side are not mixed up in the report. Remember to check track shoe, link, pins, bushings, top and bottom rollers, idlers, and sprockets.
    Check the components according to the description for that specific component. Take notes and fill in any useful comment. Carefully check the links for cracks, spalling, side wear and wear on the pin boss. You can also count the links to see if one was removed during assembly in an effort to tighten the undercarriage. If someone has made it too tight, that will spell trouble in the near future.
  • Wear distribution. The last step is to compare the two sides of the undercarriage assembly to each other. Does one side show more wear than the other? Use the wear distribution graphic at the bottom of the checklist to indicate the overall wear for each side. Should one side have more wear than the other, show this by marking that side further from the center, but still relative to the wear on the better side.

If you’re unsure exactly what you’re looking at or what might need to be done, your local dealer can help.

Buying machines with warranty coverage for undercarriages is another good way to ensure the components stay in good working order. Volvo has an extended warranty for undercarriages that covers eligible customer-purchased replacement and dealer-installed undercarriages for four years or 5,000 hours, whichever comes first.

Besides inspecting the undercarriages on the equipment in your current fleets, it’s also important to carefully evaluate the undercarriage—and other components—of a used machine you’re considering buying.

Source: Volvo CE