Seal Replacement or a Full Repair – Which is Better?

In the unfortunate event that a hydraulic cylinder starts to leak, you may be wondering if a full repair is necessary or whether you can just replace the seals on your own by performing a hydraulic ram seal repair. Although both options work, there is an argument to be made regarding simply replacing the hydraulic cylinder seals.

Whilst it might be a way to cut down on costs and save time, the reality is that sometimes the cheapest and most immediate fixes might not have the longevity versus a full repair, and you might end up spending more money in the long run. This could partly be down to the fact that a hydraulic seal failure might not be an isolated problem but instead a symptom of a larger, underlying issue. Read on to find out what you should be taking into consideration before you decide whether or not to simply reseal the leaky hydraulic cylinder.

False economy

We are here to bust the myth that replacing hydraulic seals is cheaper than a full repair. Whilst we’re not denying that this might be the case in some instances – many factories and agricultural businesses frequently replace their seals to cut downtime and costs – hydraulic seals always fail for a reason, and this might not necessarily be down to just the seal on its own. The seal belongs to a larger system and as it’s often the weakest link, this could just be the first sign of trouble, where the problem lies elsewhere that is less exposed. To replace the seal and not check for other problems, runs the risk of not properly resolving whatever caused the leak in the first place. The longer you leave it without investigation, the worse the issue might become, increasing the frequency of repairs and maintenance, which in turn affects productivity and cost.

Identify the issue

To effectively minimise maintenance costs and get to the root of an issue, you must diagnose any underlying issues that might be leading to the leakage of a hydraulic seal and promptly fix it. Some of the main points of failure that could occur that you need to be aware of include:

  • Fluid degradation
  • Bent piston rods
  • Improper hydraulic fluid
  • Worn components such as piston and bearing surfaces
  • Scored cylinder rods
  • Ballooned cylinder barrels
  • Heat exposure and/or overheating

Any of these problems could cause even the healthiest hydraulic seal to leak as well as leading to premature failure and the wear and tear of a hydraulic seal.

Think long term

Although you might be paying more upfront, opting for a full repair when the situation calls for it means you guarantee long-term savings of time and money. A sure-fire way to ensure that any underlying issues are properly addressed is by performing a complete disassembly, inspection, and diagnosis of the condition of the cylinder in question. If you are experienced enough to perform this task yourself and you have the right equipment then you should, but we would encourage you to seek the expertise of a trained and experienced hydraulic repair technician, as they’ll be better equipped to assess cylinder condition and act accordingly.

So, before you go replacing your hydraulic cylinder seal yourself, you should take the time to investigate the root cause or causes of a seal failure and address them. As we’ve mentioned, if you have prior experience as well as the necessary tools to disassemble, inspect, recondition and test all of the parts of the cylinder system, then congratulations – you can perform an economical repair that will be long-lasting! But for the rest of you, it’s wise to seek out the expertise of a reputable hydraulic cylinder repair company to assist with any issues you might be having.


Hartley Currie – General Manager

Bob Kerins – Sales & Marketing

Ryan Carrol – Sales