Log Splitter Hydraulic Fluid: Maximize Efficiency and Performance

As the seasons change and the desire for cozy gatherings around a crackling fire remains a constant, it’s important to have a steady supply of high-quality firewood at the ready.

To simplify the task of cutting firewood all year round, it might be worthwhile to upgrade from the conventional axe to the convenience of a log splitter. 

However, before making this transition, it is essential to understand the importance of maintenance, including the necessary hydraulic fluid, to ensure optimal performance throughout the seasons. By considering these essentials, you can enjoy a seamless and efficient firewood cutting experience regardless of the time of year.

What Is The Best Hydraulic Oil for a Log Splitter?

Hydraulic oil is both lube and a power transfer device. It lubricates the hydraulic system and serves as a means for the transfer throughout the system. What’s more, it is made from various ingredients, including ester, glycol, ethers, silicone, and mineral oil.

The primary hydraulic oil is classified into different types:

Flame Retardant Hydraulic Oil – Lubricant oil can burn under high heat conditions. When this happens, it can leak and lose the necessary properties. To reduce the risk of fire caused by the ‘burning’, a flame retardant hydraulic oil is used.

Wear-Resistant Hydraulic Oil – This is used for high-pressure and high-temperature environments where the system needs to cope with specific stressors.

Environmentally-Friendly Hydraulic Oil – This hydraulic oil is used in machinery on environmentally sensitive sites such as farms and forests. A biodegradable base fluid makes up the oil, allowing it to degrade naturally in case of a spill.

Depending on how you prefer to use hydraulic oil, extra additives can help achieve machinery’s maximum performance under different conditions:

  • anti-foaming (reduces foaming within the fluid caused by detergents)
  • anti-rust (forms a protective coating to reduce damage from oxygen contact)
  • anti-wear (extends the life of the machinery)
  • anti-oxidant (allows extended use without changing the oil)

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Using Hydraulic Fluid in Log Splitter

The right hydraulic oil for a log splitter is indicated in the engine owner’s manual. Some brands include hydraulic fluid in the package, while others require you to make a separate purchase.

You can purchase hydraulic oils online at Amazon or from hardware stores, farm equipment retailers, and automotive supplies. It is recommended that you never operate a log splitter without the required hydraulic fluid.

The most common approved hydraulic oil for log splitters is an AW (Anti Wear) 32 hydraulic log splitter oil. This type of oil lubricates gears, cylinder assembly and other mechanical parts during extreme heat and cold. Additionally, it pressurizes the hydraulic system.

When you activate the log splitter, the hydraulic system builds pressure with the oil. Once pressurized, the system initiates your motion for cutting the log.

You will need to replace the hydraulic oil and how much you need to replace would depend on the engine oil capacity of your log splitter. The oil produces sediment over time which can potentially damage the internal parts. To prevent this from happening, strictly follow replacement schedules.

As with any other equipment, nothing beats safety. Ensure that you read the instructional manual thoroughly and do not disregard safety instructions. Most importantly, use the machine for cutting wood only as it is not suitable for any other purpose.

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Maintenance Tips: Advice on Maintaining the Hydraulic System

To ensure your log splitter operates efficiently and lasts longer, regular maintenance of the hydraulic system is essential. Here are some tips:

Check Fluid Levels Regularly: Before each use, check the hydraulic fluid level. Low levels can lead to poor performance or damage to the hydraulic pump.

Change the Fluid Periodically: Over time, hydraulic fluid degrades and may become contaminated. Refer to your log splitter’s manual for guidance on how often to change the fluid.

Inspect for Leaks: Regularly inspect hoses, fittings, and seals for leaks. Even a small leak can lead to air entering the system, causing inefficiency and potential damage.

Clean the Hydraulic Filter: Many log splitters have a filter to remove contaminants from the hydraulic fluid. Cleaning or replacing the filter as recommended can prevent damage to the hydraulic system.

Consider Eco-Friendly Hydraulic Fluid Options

Choosing an eco-friendly hydraulic fluid not only benefits the environment but can also offer performance advantages. Biodegradable hydraulic fluids, such as those based on synthetic esters or vegetable oils, are designed to break down more quickly than traditional mineral-based oils if spilled or leaked. These fluids often provide excellent lubricity, reducing wear and potentially extending the life of hydraulic components. When selecting an eco-friendly hydraulic fluid, consider factors such as biodegradability rate, toxicity to aquatic life, and compatibility with your log splitter’s hydraulic system.

Hydraulic Fluid FAQs

What oil do I need for my log splitter?

For your log splitter, you should use a hydraulic oil that is specifically designed for use in log splitters i.e. AW32 hydraulic oil. This oil is formulated to resist breakdown and provide the necessary lubrication for your splitter.

Why is my log splitter moving slowly?

Your log splitter may be moving slowly due to a lack of hydraulic fluid or an issue with the pump. Check the fluid level and make sure the pump is functioning correctly.

Can you use tractor hydraulic fluid in a wood splitter?

No, you should not use tractor hydraulic fluid in a wood splitter. Tractor hydraulic fluid is designed for tractors and is not suitable for use in log splitters.

Can you mix hydraulic fluids for log splitter?

No, you should not mix hydraulic fluids for log splitter. Different hydraulic fluids have different properties and mixing them can result in a poor lubrication performance and potential damage to the splitter.

Does it matter what hydraulic fluid you use for your log splitter?

Yes, it does matter what hydraulic fluid you use for your log splitter. Using the wrong hydraulic fluid can lead to poor performance and potential damage to your log splitter. It is important to use the correct hydraulic fluid to ensure the best possible performance.

Does hydraulic fluid go bad over time?

Yes, hydraulic fluid can go bad over time. Like any other fluid, hydraulic fluid can degrade and lose its effectiveness due to various factors such as oxidation, contamination, and temperature fluctuations.

Oxidation occurs when the hydraulic fluid reacts with oxygen in the air, causing it to thicken or become sludgy. This can lead to reduced lubrication properties and increased friction within the hydraulic system. Contamination from dirt, debris, or water can also deteriorate the fluid, causing it to lose its viscosity and flow characteristics.

Temperature fluctuations can accelerate the degradation process of hydraulic fluid. High temperatures can cause the fluid to break down chemically, resulting in reduced performance and potential damage to system components. On the other hand, low temperatures can cause the fluid to thicken, leading to poor flow and reduced hydraulic efficiency.

Regular maintenance and periodic fluid analysis are essential to determine the condition of hydraulic fluid. If significant degradation is detected, it is recommended to replace the fluid to ensure optimal performance and longevity of the hydraulic system.

Can I use a different brand of hydraulic fluid than what’s recommended?

While it’s possible to use different brands, it’s crucial to ensure the alternative meets the same specifications and performance requirements as the recommended fluid. Always check compatibility to avoid damaging your hydraulic system.