How to Troubleshoot a Bobcat

Written by tim anderson
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Otherwise known as a skid-steer loader, Bobcat loaders are rugged, manually-operated industrial machines often used in landscaping or construction projects where larger tractors or other machines cannot fit. Designed to carry a heavy workload while at the same time having maneuverability and versatility, the Bobcat is powered by a diesel engine, a 4-wheel drive transmission, and a system of hydraulic pumps that operate the actual loader. As a machine, Bobcats need regular maintenance and repairs to keep them in prime working condition.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Mechanic's tools

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  1. 1

    Check the oil reservoir if the engine is "knocking" or acting sluggish. If the oil levels are low, you will need to add an appropriate level of oil to top off the reservoir (refer to your owner's manual for the exact specifics on how much oil is required for your make/model of Bobcat). If the oil is dirty, you need to drain the old oil out and replace it with new oil.

  2. 2

    Clean any excessively dirty spark plugs to keep the engine firing at its highest rate. Remove the spark plugs and wipe them clean with a shop rag or use an automated wire brush to clean the tips if they are excessively dirty. If they cannot be cleaned or are burnt out, you need to replace them with fresh spark plugs to keep the engine operating at its peak efficiency.

  3. 3

    Check the air intake filter for the Bobcat. If it is excessively dirty or clogged, it can keep the engine from starting, or keep it from running at its peak levels. Remove the air filter from its mounting bracket and use an air compressor to blast air over it. Direct air from both sides multiple times until no more residue blows free, then reinstall the air filter.

  4. 4

    Check the hydraulic fluid hoses and reservoir of the Bobcat if the loader is sluggish or nonresponsive. Inspect the hoses of the hydraulic system to ensure that there are no leaks at the connections or any damaged sections of the hose that are leaking oil. Replace damaged sections or connectors, then refill the reservoir with hydraulic fluid.

Tips and warnings

  • Refer to your owner's manual for exact specifics depending on your make/model of Bobcat loader, as the exact details of specific tasks (such as the size of the gas tank or how much hydraulic oil is required for the reservoir) may vary slightly between models. If you do not have your manual on hand, contact your local dealer or download one from the Internet.
  • In order to avoid potential injury, you should never attempt to troubleshoot mechanical issues on a Bobcat without working knowledge and access to the tools of the trade as well as the relevant skills to operate them.

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