Hydraulic cylinders are essential components in various industries and applications, enabling the conversion of fluid power into mechanical force. Over time, these cylinders can experience wear, damage, and other issues, leading to reduced performance and efficiency. In such cases, a hydraulic cylinder rebuild becomes necessary in order to re-establish the performance of the cylinder. In this article, we will explore the process of rebuilding hydraulic cylinders, the signs of a bad cylinder, the associated costs, the tools used, and the life expectancy of these crucial components.

What Can Go Wrong with Hydraulic Cylinder?

Hydraulic cylinders are subjected to high pressures, extreme conditions, and repetitive movements, making them susceptible to various problems. Here are some common issues that can occur:

Loss of Power and Performance

A deteriorating hydraulic cylinder may exhibit a decline in power and performance. This can manifest as slow or incomplete movement, reduced lifting capacity, or the inability to hold loads properly.

Leakage and Fluid Contamination

Leakage is a significant problem in hydraulic cylinders and can occur due to seal failures, cracks, or damaged components. Additionally, contaminated fluid can enter the system, leading to reduced efficiency and potential damage to other components. You can avoid leakages by honing a cylinder.

Unusual Noises and Vibrations

If you notice unusual noises, such as grinding or squealing sounds, or excessive vibrations during cylinder operation, it could be an indication of internal damage or misalignment.

Cylinder Honing Machine for hydraulic cylinder rebuild

How Do I Know if My Hydraulic Cylinder is Bad?

Determining whether a hydraulic cylinder is bad requires careful observation and assessment. Look out for the following signs:

  1. Loss of Performance: If you notice a significant decrease in the power and efficiency of your hydraulic system, it may indicate a problem with the cylinder.
  2. Leakage: Any visible leaks or traces of fluid around the cylinder are clear indicators of a potential issue.
  3. Abnormal Movement: Jerky, uneven, or uncontrolled movements during cylinder operation suggest internal problems.
  4. Excessive Heat: If the cylinder becomes excessively hot during operation, it could be a sign of internal friction or fluid-related issues.
  5. Unusual Noises and Vibrations: Any strange or loud noises, such as grinding, squealing, or knocking sounds, and excessive vibrations during cylinder operation indicate potential problems.
  1. Fluid Contamination: If you notice the hydraulic fluid is dirty, cloudy, or contains debris, it suggests fluid contamination and potential cylinder issues.

If you observe any of these signs, it is crucial to address the problem promptly to prevent further damage to the hydraulic cylinder and the entire system.

How Much Does It Cost to Rebuild a Hydraulic Cylinder?

The cost of rebuilding a hydraulic cylinder can vary depending on several factors. These include the size and type of the cylinder, the extent of damage or wear, and the availability of replacement parts. The cost of rebuilding frequently amounts to over £1000. However, it is important to note that these are estimated costs and may vary based on individual circumstances and specific requirements.

Overall, this is why it is imperative for a workshop to invest in high-quality hydraulic cylinder repair tools. This area will be covered later in the article.

Is It Easy to Rebuild a Hydraulic Cylinder?

Rebuilding a hydraulic cylinder requires technical expertise and specialised knowledge. While it is possible for experienced professionals or skilled individuals to rebuild hydraulic cylinders, it is not considered a simple task for beginners. The process involves disassembling the cylinder, assessing the components, cleaning or replacing damaged parts, reassembling the cylinder, and conducting thorough testing to ensure proper functioning.

Moreover, working with hydraulic systems requires adherence to safety protocols and precautions. Mishandling hydraulic components can lead to injuries or further damage to the equipment. Therefore, it is recommended to consult professional hydraulic cylinder rebuilding services or seek expert guidance when considering a rebuild.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Hydraulic Cylinder?

The life expectancy of a hydraulic cylinder depends on various factors, including the operating conditions, the quality of maintenance, and the workload it handles. On average, hydraulic cylinders are designed to have a lifespan of around 15 to 20 years. However, this can vary significantly depending on the specific application, the frequency of use, and the level of maintenance and care provided.

It’s important to note that certain industries or environments, such as heavy machinery, construction, or marine applications, may subject hydraulic cylinders to more demanding conditions, leading to potential wear and shorter lifespans. Regular inspection, maintenance, and timely rebuilding can help extend the life expectancy of hydraulic cylinders and ensure optimal performance.

What Tools Are Used for Rebuilding Hydraulic Cylinders?

Moreover, rebuilding hydraulic cylinders requires a range of specialised tools and equipment to disassemble, clean, repair, and reassemble the components. Here are some commonly used tools:

Cylinder Honing Machines

Cylinder honing machines are used to restore the smoothness and roundness of the cylinder bore, removing any scratches, imperfections, or wear. This process ensures proper sealing and reduces friction between the piston and cylinder wall. Learn about cylinder honing.

Hydraulic Presses and Pullers

Hydraulic presses and pullers are utilised for safe and efficient disassembly and assembly of hydraulic cylinder components. They provide the necessary force to remove or install pistons, rods, and other parts, ensuring accuracy and minimising the risk of damage. Also, you can view HEMS’s cylinder repair range, which includes a track press, pin puller, and dual action press.

hydraulic cylinder rebuild

Seal Installation Tools

Seal installation tools are designed to facilitate the proper installation of seals, O-rings, and gaskets in hydraulic cylinders. These tools help ensure a secure and leak-free seal, essential for optimal cylinder performance.

Measurement and Testing Equipment

Measurement and testing equipment, such as callipers, micrometres, pressure gauges, and hydraulic test benches, are used during the rebuilding process. These tools allow precise measurements of components, assessment of hydraulic pressure, and thorough testing to verify the cylinder’s functionality.

Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the specific tools required may vary depending on the size, type, and complexity of the hydraulic cylinder being rebuilt.


To conclude, hydraulic cylinder rebuilding is a crucial maintenance process that helps restore the performance and extend the lifespan of these essential components. By identifying the signs of a bad hydraulic cylinder, understanding the rebuilding process, considering the associated costs, and knowing the tools involved, you can make informed decisions regarding the maintenance and care of your hydraulic systems.

Regular inspection, maintenance, and timely rebuilding, when necessary, can ensure optimal performance, prevent downtime, and potentially save costs compared to the replacement of entire cylinders. Always consult experienced professionals or seek expert advice for complex rebuilds or if you lack the necessary knowledge and tools.


1. Can I rebuild a hydraulic cylinder on my own?

Rebuilding a hydraulic cylinder requires technical expertise and specialised tools. It is recommended to consult professional hydraulic cylinder rebuilding services or seek expert guidance, especially if you lack experience in this field.

2. How often should hydraulic cylinders be rebuilt?

The frequency of hydraulic cylinder rebuilding depends on various factors, including the operating conditions and the workload. Regular inspection and maintenance can help identify the need for rebuilding. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and industry best practices for specific recommendations.

3. Are there any alternatives to rebuilding a hydraulic cylinder?

In some cases, it may be more cost-effective or practical to replace a hydraulic cylinder rather than rebuilding it. This is particularly true if the damage is severe or extensive. Consult with hydraulic experts or professionals to evaluate the most suitable option for your specific situation.

4. Can all types of hydraulic cylinders be rebuilt?

Most hydraulic cylinders can be rebuilt, but the feasibility and cost-effectiveness depend on factors such as the availability of replacement parts, the condition of the cylinder, and the complexity of the rebuild. Consult with experts or professionals to assess the rebuildability of your specific hydraulic cylinder.

5. Is hydraulic cylinder rebuilding cost-effective?

Hydraulic cylinder rebuilding can often be a cost-effective alternative to cylinder replacement. By addressing specific issues and replacing damaged components, rebuilding allows you to restore the functionality and extend the lifespan of the cylinder without the higher costs associated with purchasing a new one. However, the cost-effectiveness may vary depending on the individual circumstances and specific requirements. Consult with hydraulic professionals to evaluate the cost-effectiveness in your particular case.