What is an Undercarriage?

The undercarriage of heavy equipment refers to the set of components that support and propel the machine, including the tracks or wheels, and associated parts. It plays a crucial role in the performance, stability, and longevity of the equipment. In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of undercarriage parts and names, discuss what to look for when inspecting an undercarriage, explore how long an excavator undercarriage lasts, highlight common undercarriage maintenance issues, and discuss undercarriage maintenance products.

Undercarriage RepairParts and Names

The undercarriage of heavy equipment comprises several components, each with its specific function. Here are the main parts and their names:

  1. Track Shoes: These are the plates that make direct contact with the ground. They provide traction to propel the equipment forward or backwards.
  2. Track Chains: These are a series of interconnected links that hold the track shoes in place. They help in the movement of the machine.
  3. Rollers: These are cylindrical wheels that support the weight of the equipment and guide the track chains as they move.
  4. Idlers: These are stationary wheels that guide the track chains and help maintain the tension in the undercarriage.
  5. Sprockets: These are gears that engage with the track chains and propel the equipment by rotating them.
  6. Track Adjusters: These are hydraulic or mechanical devices that maintain the tension in the track chains. They ensure proper track alignment.

Many of these are kept together by bushings and pins, however these can become complicated to repair when faced with a breakdown. For example a master pin requires a track pin press to remove. Other forms of removal can be dangerous. It is important to perform preventative maintenance and to have the correct maintenance equipment to keep all these parts in order.


5 Things to Look for When Inspecting an Undercarriage

Regular inspection of the undercarriage is crucial to identify any potential issues. This allows for them to be addressed before they turn into major problems. Here are some tips on what to look for when inspecting an undercarriage:

  1. Track shoe wear: Check for any signs of excessive wear, such as uneven wear patterns, cracks, or missing track shoes. These can affect the machine’s stability and performance.
  2. Track chain tension: Ensure that the track chains are properly tensioned. Loose or overly tight chains can cause premature wear and damage to the undercarriage components.
  3. Roller and idler condition: Inspect the rollers and idlers for any signs of damage. This means cracks, dents, or missing parts, as they play a crucial role in supporting the weight of the equipment.
  4. Sprocket condition: Check the sprockets for any signs of wear, such as worn-out teeth or misalignment. They are responsible for propelling the machine and need to be in good condition.
  5. Track adjuster function: Ensure that the track adjusters are functioning properly. They are responsible for maintaining the tension in the track chains and ensuring proper alignment.


How Long Does an Excavator Undercarriage Last?

The lifespan of an excavator undercarriage depends on various factors, including the quality of the components, the type of terrain the equipment operates on, and the usage and maintenance practices. On average, undercarriage components such as track chains, rollers, and idlers can last between 2,000 to 7,000 hours of operation. However, this lifespan can vary significantly based on the aforementioned factors. For instance, heavy-duty usage in harsh terrains with rocky or abrasive surfaces can result in faster wear and require more frequent replacements. On the other hand, proper usage, regular maintenance, and using high-quality OEM-recommended components can extend the lifespan of the undercarriage.


Common Undercarriage Maintenance Issues

  1. Wear and tear: Heavy equipment undercarriages are subjected to constant wear and tear. This is due to the harsh operating conditions they are exposed to. Over time, the track chains, track shoes, rollers, idlers, sprockets, and other undercarriage components can wear out. This leads to reduced performance and increased downtime.
  2. Misalignment: Misalignment of the undercarriage components can occur due to various reasons. Some possibilities are improper tensioning, uneven loading, or impacts from obstacles. Misaligned components can cause uneven wear and premature failure of the undercarriage, leading to costly repairs and reduced productivity.
  3. Track damage: Tracks can get damaged due to impacts from rocks, debris, or uneven terrains. This can result in cuts, tears, or punctures in the track rubber. This reduces the traction and stability of the machine, affecting overall performance.
  4. Leaks: Hydraulic fluid or oil leaks can occur in the undercarriage components, such as seals, gaskets, and bearings. Leaks can lead to reduced performance, increased wear, and potential damage to other components if not addressed promptly.
  5. Corrosion: Heavy equipment used in corrosive environments, such as coastal areas or mining sites, can be prone to corrosion. Corrosion can damage the undercarriage components, leading to premature wear and reduced lifespan.
  6. Lack of lubrication: Proper lubrication is essential for the smooth operation of the undercarriage components. Inadequate or irregular lubrication can result in increased friction, accelerated wear, and potential damage to components.
  7. Overloading: Overloading heavy equipment can put excessive strain on the undercarriage components, leading to accelerated wear and potential failure. It is important to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended load limits and operating guidelines to prevent overloading.
  8. : Irregular or inadequate maintenance can result in undercarriage issues. Skipping scheduled maintenance tasks, such as tensioning, alignment checks, or component replacements, can lead to increased wear, reduced performance, and costly repairs.

Undercarriage Maintenance Products

There are various maintenance products available in the market that can help extend the lifespan and improve the performance of the undercarriage. These include lubricants and sealants specifically designed for undercarriage components, track shoes and components, as well as replacement parts and accessories. These products can help reduce friction, protect against wear and corrosion, maintain proper tension, and ensure smooth operation of the undercarriage. It is important to use high-quality products that are recommended by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to ensure compatibility and effectiveness.

However, if you want to be more serious about undercarriage maintenance, then it is essential to look at higher quality maintenance products. One example of this is a Master Pin Pusher. When a track needs replacing, one must remove the master pin which can be extremely dangerous if the proper tooling is not owned. A Master Pin Pusher is a hydraulic tool where you simply place the C-Frame shaped equipment over the track, and let it jolt the pin out for you.


A product of the same ilk is the Pin Puller. This does exactly what it sounds like and is responsible for pulling pins that require just that, because not all can be pushed.

Knowing this, an innovative piece of equipment sold by HEMS is the Dual Action Press. This combines the master pin pusher and pin puller into one, allowing you to have one gadget for both tasks.

HEMS also provides other essential products such as a track press, sprocket puller, hydraulic torque wrench, roller & idler builder, track winder, and of course seal lubricator. You can see HEMS’s full list of undercarriage maintenance products here


In conclusion, the undercarriage of heavy equipment plays a critical role in the performance, stability, and longevity of the machines. Regular inspection, proper usage, and maintenance are essential to detect and resolve issues early on, prevent costly repairs, and ensure optimal performance. The use of high-quality OEM-recommended maintenance products can further enhance the lifespan and performance of the undercarriage. By investing in proper undercarriage maintenance, heavy equipment owners can maximize the productivity and efficiency of their machines, ultimately leading to better returns on investment.