Bobcat is an American construction and farming equipment manufacturer. Some equipment or vehicles are designed with a lift actuator that’s connected to the control valve to help operate the joystick controls.
These lift actuators leverage the hydraulic oil pressure to control the valve mechanism. However, various users have complained about the lift actuator not going in neutral mode, which is why we are sharing some solutions with you!
Fixing Bobcat Lift Actuator Not in Neutral
- Calibrate the Actuator
If your vehicle is designed with two actuators and one isn’t working, it’s likely that there is a calibration issue. In addition to not working in neutral mode, improper calibration can result in reduced engine lifespan and poor performance. So, to calibrate the actuator, follow these steps;
- Make sure the valve closes down slowly by adjusting the pneumatic signals and stopping as the valve is fully closed. In addition, the dynamic error band must be less than 3% (if you are unable to set this value, you’ve to change the stem length by changing the connector assembly’s position)
- Now, adjust the pneumatic signals to ensure the valve opens slowly and stop the adjustment as the valve is fully opened. Then, check the value of pneumatic signals and compare it with your actuator’s range. If the difference is higher than 3%, you have to change the spring and recheck the opening and closure
- The next step is to adjust the position indicator to make sure the indication is working properly
- You’ve to inject the signals by 0%, 25%, or over 75% of the range and check the valve’s position with an increase or reduction in the signals
- Then, check for air failure and power failure action by cutting off the air supply and power supply, respectively
- If there is no air or power failure, the actuator has been calibrated
- Actuator Going Bad
If there is nothing wrong with the calibration but the actuator is still not in the neutral mode, there are chances that the actuator is damaged. A damaged actuator can also lead to motor failure or the wearing of plastic worm gears.
The most common symptoms of a bad actuator include the vehicle working in limp mode and low boost. The only solution is to get the actuator replaced but make sure the motor and worm gears have a correct ratio to prevent actuator failure.
- Binding Valve
The actuators are designed with valves to optimize the rotary and linear motion. However, when the valves are exposed to a higher temperature, valve binding can restrict the operations.
In particular, the opening and closure of the valves will become difficult, and the actuator will stop changing positions. For this reason, when the lift actuator doesn’t go in neutral mode, you should turn off the engine to make sure the temperature comes down.
To prevent high operating temperatures, it’s recommended that you replenish the coolant levels and give your vehicle a break after every hour.
- System Leakage
A system leakage right in front of the actuator can reduce its functionality. In particular, the leakage doesn’t allow the minimum SCFM, which is important for operating the valves. It can be challenging to identify and fix the leaks in a vehicle on your own, which is why you should call a mechanic.
A mechanic will use the multimeter to inspect the current leakage and fix it. In most cases, replacing the O-Ring seals will resolve the leak, but a mechanic can provide a better solution.
- Clogged Actuator Filter & Valve
The actuators are integrated with the air filters while the valve is responsible for moving or actuating the vehicle. However, if the actuator filter is clogged and the valve is damaged, it can restrict the actuator’s opening and closure, which is why the lift actuator fails to work in the neutral mode.
That being said, we recommend that you check for a clogged filter and get it cleaned. On the other hand, if a valve is broken, it should be replaced immediately.
- Actuator Ports
The actuator ports are basically the connecting points for valves and filters, and when these ports are blocked with contaminants, it can reduce the actuator’s performance.
For this reason, it’s recommended that you inspect the actuator ports and clean them. However, before you clean these ports, you must turn off the vehicle’s engine. As far as clearing the contaminants is concerned, you can use a blow dryer or a smaller hose of the vacuum cleaner.
- Closed Speed Controls
The speed controls of the vehicle are designed for controlling the vehicle’s speed in specific terrains as it controls and adjusts the motor speed. However, when the speed controls stop working, the vehicle will be hard to control, and you won’t be able to put your actuator in neutral mode.
In most cases, the speed controls don’t work because of a damaged brake pedal switch or a blown fuse.
For this reason, we recommend that you check the fuse box on the vehicle and remove the blown ones (the blown-out fuses appear brown or black). On the other hand, if the brake pedal switch is broken, you’ve to get it repaired by a mechanic.
The condensation happens when the temperature in the vehicle is significantly different from the outside temperature. This is because the warm air from the vehicle’s interior meets the cold air of outside, which results in fog (condensation).
This condensation can jam some components of the vehicles, including the actuator. For this reason, we recommend that you turn on the heating or air conditioner, whatever is needed to match the outside temperature. Also, you should open the vehicle’s door if it’s parked to remove the condensation.
- Broken Springs
There is a spring return in the actuator, which is a contact point that returns to zero as soon as you release the brakes. It works by having a sufficient supply of liquid or air on one side of the piston.
However, if these springs are broken, they won’t be able to achieve the zero contact point. For this reason, we recommend that you replace the broken springs. While you are replacing the springs, make sure that the seals are intact – if the seals are broken or worn out, just get them replaced as well.
- Higher Thrust
When you’ve to put the lift actuator in a neutral position, the thrust should be minimized. This is why if the actuator isn’t working in the neutral mode, you should check all the valves.
That’s because when the valve is broken or leaked, it won’t be able to stop the airflow, resulting in higher thrust. If any of the valves aren’t in optimal condition, you should replace them as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that a broken or leaking valve can also lead to airflow at the piston guide bushings, which prevents the actuator from working normally.
- Side Loading
For the actuator to work in the neutral mode, your vehicle must be on even terrain. In simpler words, if there is excessive side loading in the vehicle, the actuator won’t be able to achieve the neutral mode.
For this reason, we recommend that you drive your Bobcat vehicle to an even surface and then try the neutral mode. In addition to this, if you have loaded something on the vehicle, you need to make sure it’s not stacked on one side.
- Piston Seals
The piston seals are important for creating a seal between the cylinder bore and piston, which helps prevent the leakage of air or hydraulic fluid. It is important to maintain pressure on the piston.
However, when the piston seals are broken, the pressure isn’t maintained, which leads to performance issues in the actuator, and you won’t be able to put it in the neutral mode. So, hire a mechanic and get the piston seals replaced.