There are many features and benefits to consider when purchasing machines, so completing a full evaluation, including maintenance checkpoints, is essential for making the right choice. It’s important for buyers to go beyond the typical pre-purchase routine because not all maintenance programs are designed to maximize machine value and operator convenience.


While the Operation and Maintenance Manual (OMM) outlines all maintenance features including detailed interval schedules, a mock machine walk-around could expose understated factors that may greatly impact maintenance procedures. A machine’s outer design and component configuration should be taken into account as these factors can affect the time and tools needed to complete a maintenance checklist.


Daily Maintenance Considerations
During a mock walk-around, take some time to evaluate daily maintenance needs. Look for clear and concise information showing the location of maintenance points, which should be listed on a machine decal or in the OMM. Some manufacturers provide these details online to ensure operators always have access.


Maintenance points should be easily accessible in a way that’s physically comfortable for the operator, and consideration should also be taken for safe maintenance practices in and around the machine. Therefore, consider machines that do not require awkward posing or repositioning to access daily maintenance points.


Additionally, look for access points that are grouped together. The closer the access points the easier it will be for the operator to complete the maintenance checklist quickly. For example, all grease points should be grouped close together, so they can be serviced from fewer locations. Also, avoid machine designs that need uniquely shaped containers or excessive hand tools to complete daily maintenance tasks.


Optimize Maintenance Intervals
Today’s machine designs include technology that helps extend service intervals to reduce total ownership costs. Many maintenance tasks that used to be required may no longer be necessary. For example, there is no need to maintain battery fluid levels when maintenance-free batteries come standard on newer designs. Work with your dealer to determine if any traditional maintenance requirements have been eliminated.


Here are some other factors that could help optimize maintenance intervals:


  • Assess machine designs with convenient intervals that are easy to remember, such as multiples of 100 or 250 hours.
  • Identify manufacturers that offer maintenance kits with machine purchases that might include filters, fluids and other items needed at various intervals.
  • Ask if your dealer rep offers optional sampling services for fluid analysis that help track data over time to identify deviation from normal trends and help improve machine efficiency.

Sometimes replacing parts is necessary, but there are ways to get more from them to reduce replacement frequency. Attachments that have cutting edges on buckets and blades may come with double-sided options. If one side reaches its wear limit, simply reverse it to extend the life. Utilizing components like oil filters that have reusable metal containers can help increase component lifecycles. You can also reduce parts costs by using remanufactured components that meet manufacturer’s specifications.


Maintenance is essential to running an effective fleet, and machine performance greatly affects business success. Scheduling a mock maintenance walk-around before purchasing a machine can help define ease of maintenance giving you an opportunity to reduce operating costs and increase your bottom line.


For more information on machine maintenance, contact your local Cat dealer or visit us at We’d like to hear about your experience with maintenance.

  • What maintenance features do you look for when considering the purchase of a machine?
  • Which maintenance tasks do you complete daily?
  • How have you prevented a major machine failure by fixing an issue discovered through routine maintenance?
  • Have you ever purchased a machine and realized that the maintenance requirements were not as convenient as you expected?
  • How can Caterpillar help improve ease of maintenance?