How Worn Hydraulic Cylinders Scream for Your Attention

Hydraulic cylinders are hard at work in industrial applications (like cranes, hydraulic presses, and forges) and mobile applications (like agricultural machines and construction vehicles). They offer the most efficient and effective method of lowering, pulling, lifting, and pushing. According to, hydraulic cylinders are not impressively powerful, but durable – with the right care.

Part of caring for a hydraulic cylinder is watching out for warning signs of wear. Fortunately, you can learn these tell-tale signs so you can treat some of the most common problems before they escalate to expensive failures. Below are four signs that your hydraulic cylinders require your attention – ignore the signs at your own risk.


Juddering or slip-stick is signalled by the loss of consistent, smooth movement – either suddenly or gradually. The inconsistent movement occurs as the cylinder extends, and you feel some jerky or stilted movement.

In many cases, juddering is accompanied by increased heat within the cylinder as well as increased power drawdown. The jerky movements are usually caused by insufficient lubrication, worn seals, or even something grave like bending of a piston rod.

A slow actuator

Slow or loss of power during cylinder operation is a sign that there is increased friction or even internal leakage. Leakages cause the hydraulic cylinder to take longer to build the required pressure. Turning the power up of your unit can help overcover the performance loss, but this is only a temporary solution.

If the damage or leakage is not addressed fast enough, the performance of the cylinder will gradually decrease until it becomes inoperable. The attempt to compensate for poor performance by injecting more power only increases the chances of your cylinder failing altogether.

Unevenly worn piston

As a linear actuator, a cylinder is expected to run in a straight line. In case the rod is worn out on one side, it is a possibility that misalignment, a bent rod, disproportionate lateral loading or other abnormal function is to blame. An unevenly worn piston will soon fail if not repaired quickly by professionals like

Banging noises

By default, any type of hydraulic cylinder should not be producing banging noises like a jackhammer. Such noises are usually caused by air in the cavitation or hydraulic fluid. These air bubbles cause the system to experience extreme decompression and compression.

On the other hand, lack of enough fluid in part of the hydraulic system causes cavitation. This will cause a drop in pressure as the fluid vaporizes. As pressure returns, the fluid cavity implodes, causing a nasty hammering noise.

In both instances, it’s important you stop the machine as soon as possible to avoid causing further damage. If not addressed quickly, the air bubbles and cavitation can damage the system due to lost lubrication that causes overheating and eventual burning of the seals.

In most cases, hydraulic cylinders do not simply fail without giving some warning. Learning how to pick up on these critical signals is a sure way of ensuring proactive maintenance for seamless operations. If your hydraulic cylinders are screaming, then you should consult Matchtec, find them at and see what they can do for you and your machinery.