Regular maintenance and servicing on heavy machinery will highlight when parts and components need to be repaired or replaced. Often, such issues are highlighted as soon as possible, which also reduces further wear on the equipment itself. By keeping on top of this, your machine could end up giving you many more hours of uninterrupted service, no matter what industry you work in.

By replacing worn or broken parts, you’ll not only allow your machine to perform to its full potential, but it’ll also save money by reducing overall operating costs as well as improving the uptime of your equipment. In addition to this, you’ll also be minimising health and safety hazards in the workplace, giving you absolute peace of mind that your workers will be safe at all times when behind the wheel.

But what replacement part options are available to you, are OEM or aftermarket parts better suited to you and which parts of the machine can you expect to wear first? We’ll be answering all of those questions in this article.

What replacement part options are there?

When looking for replacement parts, you’ll have the option to choose between new, used, rebuilt or exchanged products. It’s here where you’ll have to decide whether you’d prefer to implement genuine or aftermarket parts.

Where each option has its pros and cons, the decision you make should be based entirely on the machine you have and your business and operational needs. Below is a rundown of what each part has to offer your company, helping you to decide which option is best for you.

New parts

These will be genuine, manufacturer parts that are brand new. These never-been-used products will give your machine the best possible start if you’re rebuilding it or even if it just needs one or two parts to be replaced. This is often the best option if you have the budget for it as brand new parts can be rather expensive. Although, buying a part right off the shelf, even if it’s a bit pricey, will be cheaper than replacing the entire machine.

Some of the other advantages that come with buying and using new parts include:

  • New parts can be tailor-made to your machine
  • They’ll work exactly the same and perform just as well as the part you’re replacing
  • They’re typically backed by a generous warranty
  • New parts are almost always in stock for quick and efficient delivery of items

Used parts

Used parts are products that have previously been used in other machines, as the name would suggest. They’ll almost always be in fully-working order, so you don’t need to worry about immediate deterioration when opting for used parts and components. Often, they’re deemed unsuitable or uneconomical for use on other machines. Also, equipment that has been sold on for scrap would have been stripped of all of its working parts.

This way, money can be made by selling the parts individually, at a discounted price or by fitting them to a reconditioned machine. This way, the equipment can be sold to those who are on a budget as a refurbished machine will cost slightly less than a brand new one.

Additional benefits to buying and fitting used parts include:

  • Used items cost about one-third of the price of a brand new part
  • Used parts will be rigorously tested to ensure excellent performance
  • They’ll be inspected regularly to certify that they’re fully-functional
  • It’s a cost-effective solution for those who are on a budget
  • Used parts are guaranteed to perform at a similar level to brand new parts, but for a fraction of the cost

Rebuilt or remanufactured parts

These come about when malfunctioned or faulty components are taken out of the machine and rebuilt with brand new components in order to match factory specifications and requirements. For added peace of mind, you can be sure that remanufactured parts to be ‘like new’ won’t compromise on the overall quality of your equipment.

Other advantages of buying and fitting rebuilt or remanufactured parts are as follows:

  • They’re built to the same performance standards as a brand new part
  • They still meet the standards of durability, quality and OEM tolerance as new parts
  • Rebuilt parts are an eco-friendly, sustainable option for those who are looking for safe and reliable replacement parts
  • You’ll receive a warranty with these parts, much like you would when buying them brand new

Exchange parts

These offer the same performance as brand new parts, for your peace of mind, but for a much lower cost. Therefore, if purchasing new parts isn’t something that your budget can manage, then opting for exchange parts would be the most ideal alternative. When it comes to exchange parts, you’ll be required to bring in the part you want to replace and then you’ll be given a rebuilt part in exchange for the one you’ve brought it.

The other benefits associated with exchange parts include:

  • It’s a cost-effective solution as it often works out to be cheaper than buying new or even used parts
  • Your machine will perform to the same level and be just as durable as a new component
  • They’re meticulously tested in order to meet quality acceptance criteria
  • It’s a convenient option in comparison to rebuilding worn parts
  • They’re rebuilt ahead of time and so are immediately available for pick up and subsequent installation

Types of replacement parts: OEM vs aftermarket

There are two main options to choose from when looking for replacement parts for your equipment – OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or aftermarket parts. Although each one has its benefits, OEM parts are often the most popular and for good reason – they’re incredibly reliable. In addition to that, they also offer the best return on investment over the lifespan of your machine.

OEM parts

OEM parts are available as new, used or rebuilt products and they’ll often be made, reconditioned and tested by some of the most renowned manufacturers in the industry. You can rest assured that they’re essentially the same as the original part you’re wanting to replace and so you won’t have to worry about a part not fitting to your machine properly – a worry with aftermarket parts. Seeing as the big manufacturers take care of the OEM parts available, it also means that they come with a warranty.

Aftermarket parts

It’s often recommended, across the industry, not to choose aftermarket parts to replace components on your machine. Unlike OEM parts, aftermarket parts aren’t tested to the same standards and so they might not be compatible with your machine. In addition to that, if they aren’t tested, then you cannot be sure that they’ll function properly which, in turn, puts your workers at risk.

It’s also important to note that the warranty on your machine overall will be void if you fit aftermarket parts to your equipment as they don’t necessarily comply with the appropriate laws and regulations that OEM parts would have to follow. Aftermarket parts are also low-quality and so results in a shorter lifespan, generally.

Common parts to replace on heavy equipment

The parts you’ll end up replacing are often the ones that are most susceptible to general wear and tear. Usually, it’s commonplace to have the machine serviced and inspected regularly in order to catch problem parts as early as possible. This will help to maintain optimal, superior performance as well as ensuring downtime is kept to minimum.

The parts that’ll need replacing more frequently than others include:

  • Air filters
  • Oil filters
  • Hydraulic filters
  • Fuel filters
  • Fuel injectors
  • Hydraulic fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Batteries
  • Belts
  • Engine oil
  • Engine starters
  • Hoses
  • Spark plugs

When should you replace parts on heavy equipment?

Depending on what it is that needs replacing,a rebuilt or new part might be the best option, even over used parts. Although, the most appropriate part for your machine will be determined by your business needs and expectations as a whole. But when can you expect to replace certain parts and why?

Air filters

Deciding whether or not to replace air filters should depend on how they look upon inspection rather than being based on a specific schedule, much as you would for other parts. Essentially, you should replace air filters when they get dirty, simply because their main job is to prevent dirt and other debris from getting into your engine.

By getting brand new ones, you’ll allow clean air to pass through freely which will eventually work to prolong the life of your engine, reduce the emissions the machine produces and an increase in fuel efficiency. Brand new air filters should be used rather than second-hand or rebuilt alternatives. Used air filters will cause more damage and inhibit the engine’s performance.

Batteries

If your machine runs on a diesel engine, then it’ll have two batteries to power the starting system as opposed to one. Both are needed in order to supply the electrical components with enough energy to power the equipment. On average, an OEM battery lasts between four and five years, but when it needs replacing, you should opt for a new part rather than a used, rebuilt or exchange alternative.

Batteries will fail for a number of different reasons, including:

  • Loose cables
  • Corrosion
  • Improper charging
  • Low alternator output

Belts

Heavy machinery typically uses a serpentine belt that works to power a variety of things, including:

  • Air conditioning
  • Power steering pump
  • Compressor
  • Air injection pump
  • Cooling fan

If the serpentine belt fails, then the engine will cease to work but you might find that it begins to rapidly overheat. If this happens, then severe damage could be done to the engine which could cost a considerable amount of money to repair.

If you find, upon inspection of the machine, that the belt has cracks in it or if it’s wearing and stripping, then replace it with a brand new belt as soon as possible. It’s imperative you opt for a brand new part rather than a rebuilt or used solution.

Engine oil

New oil should be used if it needs changing, especially in heavy equipment. This is important because oil helps to lubricate the engine while simultaneously absorbing its heat. In turn, this allows all internal parts to function efficiently which will help to ensure the health and safety of your employees, also.

Over time, the oil will break down and become far less effective when it comes to the lubrication of the engine and absorption of heat. Where you must use new oil if it needs changing, you can recycle your old oil by doing the following:

  • Draining the oil into a clean pan
  • Pour the old oil, debris-free, into another container and seal with a leak-proof lid
  • Recycle the oil by taking it to a dedicated collection site

Engine starters

An engine starter will set the crankshaft, pistons and other components on your equipment in a smooth and continuous motion. Therefore, if the starter fails to ignite the engine, then the machine simply won’t start.

When an engine starter fails, it has similar signs to deterioration of a battery, including the malfunctioning of headlights and horns, for example. You can replace an engine starter with a new or reconditioned part depending on the budget you have.

Fuel filters

Fuel filters prevent dirt and other debris from getting into the machine’s fuel pump. The fuel will pass through the filter when it transfers from the fuel tank to the fuel pump, all to ensure that it’s clean. If unwanted particles are found in the fuel system, it’ll eventually clog it all up which will subsequently lead to engine failure.

If there’s enough dirt in the system, it could prevent gas from getting into the engine. As well as leading to engine failure, it could affect the fuel efficiency of your machine and the whole performance of the machine will suffer as a result. You should opt for new fuel filters as a replacement rather than used or reconditioned ones.

Fuel injectors

As the name would suggest, these work to determine the exact amount of fuel needed and subsequently deliver that level of fuel to the engine. If your fuel injector is clogged, it will fail to inject the engine with fuel. When it comes to replacing fuel injectors on a diesel engine, new, used or rebuilt parts would work as a reliable solution and so it really depends on your budget and requirements.

Hoses

These should ideally be replaced every four years or so. Hoses will wear more quickly if your machine is in regular use. Hoses are there to transfer fluids to:

  • The engine
  • Power steering racks
  • Hydraulics
  • Calipers

Coolant hoses will hold the fluid under a certain amount of pressure depending on the temperature. Upon inspection, you should look for any cracks, bubbles or stiff textures on the hose.

As they’re made out of rubber, the drier it gets, the more susceptible it’ll be to breakage and so you might find it wears quicker than other parts as a result. If you need a new hose, then be sure to purchase a brand new alternative as opposed to used or rebuilt solutions.

Hydraulic filters

Hydraulic filters work to protect the hydraulic system from contaminants, such as dirt and other particles. It maintains a clean hydraulic filtration system to ensure maximum machine and engine efficiency.

Copper and iron, for example, will accelerate the wear and tear on the system and so it needs the right filtration solution to help prevent causing damage to the hydraulic system. When replacing the filters, you should opt for new parts rather than used or rebuilt alternatives.

Hydraulic fluid

Hydraulic fluids will help to transmit power to the rest of the hydraulic system, but you might find that also useful when it comes to:

  • Heat transfer
  • Lubrication
  • Contamination removal

Hydraulic fluids can be synthetic, water-based or petroleum-based and so when the time comes to replace the fluid, you should opt for a new can or tank rather than a recycled form. Although, it’s important to note that you’ll need to check with OEM specifications in order to determine the right viscosity grade and type you’ll need to be compatible with your machine.

Oil filters

These help to prevent unwanted contaminants and debris from getting into your machine’s engine. Oil which is left unfiltered will cause particles to wear the surface of the engine and so dirty oil pumps will become damaged as a result. Replace your old oil filters with brand new ones for optimum results.

Spark plugs

These will start the combustion needed to start the engine by creating an ignition. As spark plugs age, jerky engine start-ups could occur. Always replace your spark plugs with a brand new set for complete peace of mind.

By fitting brand new spark plugs to your vehicle, it’ll help:

  • Maximise fuel economy
  • Ensure a smooth engine start
  • Reduce harmful emissions
  • Produce excellent engine combustions

Transmission fluid

Transmission fluid lubricates the transmission system to protect metal surfaces from wear. It also reduces high operating temperatures as well as increases the rotational speed that happens within the transmission itself. Depending on whether the machine is automatic or manual, you’ll need a different type of transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid should always be replaced with a brand new solution, but when emptying your machine of old transmission fluid, you should always look to recycle, much like you would with old engine oil.

Suspension components

Any parts relating to the suspension of your machine should be replaced with brand new or rebuilt alternatives. Never opt for second hand components as they’ll already be worn and so won’t offer the same high performance level as new products.

Emcon Services are able to help with the relocation, installation, maintenance, refurbishment and hire of heavy equipment and machinery, regardless of the industry you work in. For more information about how we can help you today, get in touch with a member of our specialist team today – we’re always happy to hear from you.

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