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How Do Hydraulic Systems Work?

You can find a hydraulic system almost everywhere, ranging from industrial machinery to vehicles. They come in many types and perform a wide range of functions. Their design enables them to provide energy, control, power, reliability, and safety.

What is a hydraulic system?

It is a system that performs tasks using pressurized fluid. Hydraulic systems are cost-effective mechanisms that help create movements, lift heavy loads, or perform various other actions.

Essential components of a hydraulic system

  • It holds the hydraulic fluid.
  • Hydraulic pump. It enables liquid movement through the system. The hydraulic pump also changes mechanical energy to hydraulic fluid power. The common types are gear pump, vane pump, axial pistol pump, and radial piston pump.
  • Electric motor. It gives the hydraulic pump power.
  • The valves. They control liquid flow. If need be, they also relieve the system from excessive pressure.
  • Hydraulic cylinders. They convert back the hydraulic energy to mechanical energy.
  • Filters. They ensure the cleanliness of the hydraulic fluid by removing contaminants from it.
  • It is a pressure storage reservoir that holds pressured hydraulic fluid. Accumulators support the hydraulic system to handle extreme demands.
  • The engine generates power that supports the functions of a hydraulic system.

How do hydraulic systems work?

Hydraulic systems make use of the pumps to drive hydraulic fluid through the system to generate fluid power. The valves allow passage of the fluid back to the cylinder, where hydraulic energy changes to mechanical energy. The valves relieve the system from pressure where there is need and directs liquid flow.

What you need to do to ensure the proper functioning of your hydraulic system

  • Check fluid level. Before using the system, make sure you confirm the amount of hydraulic fluid available in the tank or reservoir. The hydraulic system should contain the correct fluid amount to build the full pressure needed. If there is a low oil level, you may draw air to the system, which may cause the pump to cavitate. Therefore, the system pressure quickly drops.
  • Examine filter indicators. Most hydraulic systems use filters that have indicator windows. Through the window, check whether the filters are dirty and replace them. Dirty filters contaminate the entire system.
  • Look at the hydraulic fittings and lines. Check whether there are any leaks in fittings. Examine the hoses to see if they have cracks. If you notice any of these, do the repairs before running the machine. You will see the leaks when the system is running. Therefore, you can first start your system and keenly observe for liquid drops.
  • Examine the tank for aeration. The easiest way to go about it is to look for air bubbles in the oil. If the oil is frothy, there might be an air leak in the system. Other aeration causes are cylinders’ poor seals, too viscous oil, and cold hydraulic oil.
  • Look at the system temperature. You can check the temperature using an infrared thermometer to confirm the system’s temperature. High temperatures can cause damage to the system’s parts. Therefore, you ensure it is within the required range.


Hydraulic systems perform various functions using pressurized fluid. They use pumps to drive the hydraulic fluid through the system to generate energy. You can use hydraulic power to create movements in vehicles or lift heavyweights. However, you must check the machinery regularly to ensure that everything is up to standard and functions correctly.

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