Common Failures of Hydraulic Seals

A failed cylinder, it can happen at any time, often without notice. This fault is often due to the condition or individual fault of the ram seals inside. Overtime or due to significant exposure these seals will have to be repaired, so the condition of your cylinder won’t falter. Hydraulic ram seal repair and reduction of damage can be completed by a design engineer if the cause of failure is kept in mind.

At Motus Hydraulics we only offer the world’s finest Hallite and MFP seals to save you having to make repairs so often. Today, we’ll be going over the most common failures in hydraulic seals, to save your repair time in the future.


Exposed to high temperatures hydraulic seals can become hard. When seals harden, they crack and lose their elasticity, causing seal failure. These high temperatures can be caused by either high fluid operating temperatures in the application or high-speed heat generation from stoking operations.


Like any piece of equipment, the more wear forced on, the more considerable damage is created, for seals this wear often occurs on the dynamic face of a seal lip. This can be due to insufficient or excessive lateral load.


Improper installation can cause cuts or dents in the dynamic lip of the seal. This scaring can affect the efficiency of the cylinder and can introduce foreign elements into the hydraulic fluid. To get the most out of your seal’s operating life, make sure to install it with proper tools and processes.


Fracturing occurs when your seal encounters burn, breaking and long cracks. These fractures can lead to a complete breaking off, of the dynamic side of the seal. Most of the time these fractures are due to excessive back pressure, high-pressure shocks and spikes, or the use of low-grade materials during the manufacturing process.

Improper Installation

Improper installation is one clear cause your hydraulic seal is faulty. By improper installation we mean the dirty or unsafe handling, contamination, and incorrect sizing of the seal. It’s essential to the extended life of your seal that you have the correct seal size picked out prior to the build, as well as its clean installation, to ensure the correct sealing has been fixed.


If external flotsam and jetsam is introduced into your cylinder, you can face contamination through the hydraulic rod. When dirt, mud, powder, or other tiny elements attach themselves to the piston they dirty the seal. The dirtier your seal becomes, the more its ability to prevent contaminants from the piston area decreases.

Chemical Erosion

Chemical erosion will occur when your seal material encounters a corrosive fluid. This can happen when the improper seal material is chosen. By using these non-compatible materials, you essentially ensure the chemical attack of your seal, through oil additives, hydrolysis, or oxidation reduction of seal elements.If your seals are experiencing chemical erosion this can mean the loss of seal lip interface, the softening of the seal durometer, swelling, and the shrinkage of the seal. You’ll be able to know if your seals are facing chemical erosion through their discoloration.

If you inspect and clean your cylinders frequently and check for fluid leaks before the operation, you’ll be able to extend their operating time and find the cause for repair much quicker. If you need any more information or help with your hydraulic cylinder seals, please feel free to get in touch with our experts here at Motus Hydraulics.


Hartley Currie – General Manager

Bob Kerins – Sales & Marketing

Ryan Carrol – Sales