Hydraulic Cylinder Jerking Problem – 3 Solutions

hydraulic cylinder jerking problem
hydraulic cylinder jerking problem

Hydraulic cylinders have been around for quite some time, and for good reasons. From skid steers to track loaders, they are used in a wide range of equipment.

They act as linear actuators and provide unidirectional force to your machinery using hydraulic fluid. The piston connected to the piston rod moves back and forth, generating mechanical power. This makes them an important component of every hydraulic system.

With that out of the way, many users have reported the jerking problem in hydraulic cylinders. According to them, the cylinder starts to jerk all of a sudden for no apparent reason.

hydraulic cylinders

They are designed to work smoothly. So, when they start to jerk, there is definitely something wrong with them. The jolts do not cause problems most of the time. However, if not controlled, they can hinder the normal functioning of your cylinder and ultimately affect your vehicle.

If the hydraulic cylinder of your vehicle started jerking excessively recently, worry not, as we have some viable fixes to put a smile back on your face. In this roundup, we will tell you why this problem occurs and, more importantly, how to fix it. Let’s dive right into it!

Hydraulic Cylinder Jerking Problem

Some reasons and solutions for the jerking problem in hydraulic cylinders are mentioned in the section below.

  1. Leak In The Cylinder Across the Piston

If your hydraulic cylinder has started vibrating excessively, the chances are that it is leaky. This is because the leak will make the hydraulic fluid will be distributed unevenly. This situation will ultimately lead to cylinder drift.

Apart from the cylinder drift, a leaky cylinder can harm your machinery in more than one way. For starters, your vehicle will start using more fuel than it usually does. If not fixed, this will cost you a great deal of money in the long run.

Furthermore, your machinery’s performance may also take a hit. Your machinery will likely keep working, but you will notice a clear decline in its performance.

If you own a track loader or skid steer, you may not be able to use the implement or run into some other problem. Considering the fact that these vehicles lift heavy loads, this problem can be a safety hazard.

So, examine the cylinder near the piston to detect the leak. A visual inspection is usually enough to detect the leakage point. Oftentimes, it happens when the piston seal is broken. Like all moving parts, the piston of your hydraulic cylinder is also susceptible to wear and tear.


Fortunately, this problem has an easy fix, and you can do it at home without any professional assistance. All you need to do is seal the piston again, and the problem will go away. And yes, it is recommended to use a high-quality seal, or else it may wear out again after a few weeks.

While installing a new seal, make sure to place the seal correctly. Check to see if other components need cleaning, and if they do, consider cleaning them before installing the seal. And yes, it would be a good idea to grease the seal before installing it as it will ease the process.

Position the seal in the designated groove and reassemble all the components. Once done, see whether it has fixed the problem or not. If the problem persists, you may need to check the road seal for the leakage.

  1. Rod Seal Leak

Rod Seal Leak

The rod seal is one of the most important components of the hydraulic system of your vehicle. It regulates the hydraulic fluid and prevents it from leaking. So, if it goes bad for some reason, it will lead to hydraulic fluid leakage.

Furthermore, impurities may also enter the system and get stuck inside the moving components. This situation will lead to increased friction, causing those components to wear out sooner.

Friction is also often associated with overheating. And when your hydraulic system overheats, its components will also feel the heat. This can result in components’ failure, thus hindering the proper working of your machinery.

This is why it is important to fix the rod seal leak timely before it causes severe damage to your hydraulic system. If the rod seal is leaky, you will need to install a new seal, and the hydraulic cylinder will stop jerking.

A corroded rod could be another reason why your hydraulic cylinder may jerk sometimes. Of course, the rod can corrode over time as your machinery ages. If that’s the case, replacing the rod is the last resort.

  1. Dirty Fluid

Dirty Fluid

Dirty hydraulic fluid is another main reason for the hydraulic cylinder jerking problem. The hydraulic fluid provides your hydraulic system with the power it needs to run. In addition to that, it also lubricates the moving components of your hydraulic system and dissipates heat.

Of course, the hydraulic fluid gets contaminated as it ages. If you use a skid steer or other similar equipment, the dust particles from your construction site may find their way into this fuel. Since it is the power source of your hydraulic system, the cylinder may show abnormal behavior when it is dirty.

If you have been using the same hydraulic fluid for a long time, consider checking it to determine whether it is clean or not. Fresh hydraulic fluid has a golden color, and it turns dark brown when dirty. So, if it appears gummy and dark brown, it is time to change it.

To replace the hydraulic oil of your machinery, drain out the old dirty oil and refill the reservoir with fresh oil. And yes, do not overfill the reservoir as it will also harm your machinery. Most reservoirs come with a gauge that has marks to help you add the right amount of fuel.

good-quality cap

Moreover, use a good-quality cap to cover the hydraulic fluid reservoir. This way, you will prevent dust and other contaminants from entering the reservoir. It will also keep the fluid free from moisture.

If you have tried these solutions and your hydraulic cylinder is still jerking, it would be better to call in a professional. Repairing the hydraulic cylinder requires skill and experience that you may not have.

A professional will inspect all components of your cylinder and identify the problem. Furthermore, consider getting your machinery maintained regularly. This will keep all the components in good working condition.

The Bottom Line

Hydraulic cylinder plays a key role in the proper working of your machinery. Many users stated that it sometimes starts jerking as soon as they turn on the machinery.

It can happen for many reasons, which we have mentioned in this troubleshooting guide. Make sure that the piston and rod seals are in good health. If the hydraulic fluid is dirty, changing it will resolve the issue.

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