Dock Services

Maintenance And Servicing Of Dock Lifts

A well-executed scheduled maintenance plan can extend the life of your lift and make it more reliable. It includes periodic visual inspections to look for damage, rust, welds, or other structural issues.

Water damage can ruin the beams, cradles, and gearboxes of your lift by causing rust or by getting into motors and under other covers. Water can also affect sheave alignment, leading to uneven wear or slack in the cables. Having your Dock Lifts Charleston SC checked is the perfect way to prevent problems.

dock lift

Hydraulic Fluid

A vital part of any hydraulic system, the quality and cleanliness of your lift’s hydraulic fluid will significantly impact its performance. The fluid acts as a lubricant and provides resistance to friction between moving parts, making it extremely important for equipment like dock lifts that require high levels of pressure and tight tolerances. It also helps to regulate temperature dissipate heat, and protect the system against corrosion and other damage. If your hydraulic system is contaminated by water, oil, or air it can cause problems such as slow cycle times and reduced energy efficiency.

Most of your lift’s internal components are in contact with the hydraulic fluid, so you must keep this liquid clean. A simple check of the fluid level will let you know when it is time to change the hydraulic fluid in your lift, but it’s also important to regularly inspect the condition of the fluid itself. If the hydraulic fluid is milky in color, this typically indicates water contamination. If the hydraulic fluid is foamy, it is likely contaminated by air.

You should always use the hydraulic fluid that is recommended by your lift’s manufacturer. Using a different type of hydraulic fluid can cause damage to the power units or cylinders, so it is important to follow the factory’s recommendations.

Hydraulic fluids contain a variety of additives that are designed to perform specific functions depending on the type of hydraulic equipment and the setting it’s used in. For example, some additives reduce oxidation and corrosion, foster anti-wear and lubrication, promote rapid heat dissipation, maintain fluid viscosity, and more.

You should never handle any hydraulic fluid without the proper protective gear, including a face mask and eye protection. It is also important to dispose of spilled hydraulic fluid properly, as it can be toxic if not handled correctly.


The major components of a dock lift are the cable and winch system. A dock lift requires regular assessments and maintenance of these parts to ensure optimal performance and prolong lifespan. Typical maintenance issues include adjusting weight distribution and cable tensions, inspecting and replacing cables, and maintaining good lubrication of moving parts such as the sheaves, rollers, and gear plates. These problems should be corrected promptly to prevent damage to the lift and potential safety hazards for its users.

In addition to these common maintenance issues, the sheave and drum of a dock lift can get rusty or misaligned due to water damage. This can cause uneven wear and tear on critical components, leading to expensive repairs or even complete replacements. In many cases, water can also leak into the motor or gearboxes of a dock lift and ruin its mechanical functionality.

It is a good practice to periodically hose down a dock lift with fresh water. This will rinse away the salt, reduce corrosion, and prolong its life. It is also recommended to rinse the lift cables in fresh water once a week. This will help prevent them from becoming brittle. It is also a good idea to lubricate the lift cables with a penetrating chain and cable fluid. This will keep individual strands of the cable from rubbing against each other and wearing them down.

Stainless steel cables are typically preferred for marine environments because they are more durable and resistant to corrosion. However, it is important to understand that stainless steel cables do not lift as much weight as galvanized cables of the same size. It is a good practice to always check your owner’s manual for the correct cable type and weight capacity for your dock lift.


The motor is the heart of your dock lift. It allows you to raise and lower your boat with the push of a button, protecting your vessel from water damage. But like any motor, your boat lift motor requires a certain amount of care and maintenance to prevent damage and ensure it continues to function as it should.

Like your boat, your dock lift can be prone to water-related issues over time, especially in saltwater areas. Lift beams, bunks, cradles, and gearboxes can be damaged directly by the water; while cables and other metal components can rust or corrode. Keep your lift out of the water as much as possible and rinse it with fresh water after use. A small amount of rust can be ground off, and drain holes should always be left closed, except for the ones in gearboxes, motors, and covers (leave those open to let water out if you need to move your lift later).

Regularly inspect for signs of leaks and make sure the hoses are properly attached. Addressing any signs of a leak promptly is critical to maintaining the integrity of your lift and ensuring it operates properly.

Keeping your lift lubricated is another crucial factor in maintaining its longevity. Using a penetrating chain and cable lubricant to protect the inside core of each strand from corrosion while reducing friction is essential. This will extend the life of your cable significantly. It’s also important to lubricate the sheaves and pulleys regularly. If you forget to lubricate them, they may seize up. This can cause serious abrasion wear on your cables. Lubricating them will also reduce the risk of a sheave or pulley breaking.


A dock lift’s hydraulic system works on the principle of using pistons or gears distributed through hydraulic piping to create significant pressure levels that lift or lower cargo. When this component breaks down, it can halt warehouse operations and lead to unplanned repairs for the facility.

It’s important to understand the components of your dock lift, so you can spot problems and address them on time. The best place to start is with a visual inspection. Look for signs of damage, especially to the frame and weldments. If you notice any cracks or loose bolts, these should be repaired immediately.

Also, check the winch motor for signs of overheating or unusual vibrations. You’ll need to lubricate the motor frequently, and you should periodically check the electrical connections for any signs of damage or corrosion. Ensure that the lubrication ports are open and free of debris.

When inspecting the cables, keep in mind that they are exposed to salt water and will eventually corrode. If you have galvanized or stainless steel cables, they should be lubricated regularly with penetrating oil to minimize abrasion and preserve the protective coating.

It’s also important to understand the capacity of your dock lift so that you don’t overload it. This can result in the hydraulic pump generating excessive pressure that will cause premature fatigue in the system’s components and ultimately break down the lift. To determine your dock lift’s capacity, you should add the maximum weight of the goods you are transferring to the truck or trailer plus the weight of the operator. You should also take into account the maximum axle rating for vehicles traveling over a fully lowered dock lift to determine the appropriate platform size.


Just like changing the oil in your car is important to the long-term operation of that vehicle, maintaining dock lifts and other equipment is essential to avoiding costly repairs in the future. Sticking to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule can save money in the long run.

Dock areas are exposed to heavy equipment, product, and seasonal weather, and are a common area for accidents to occur. Having a dock inspection schedule that takes into account early wear and tear, safety issues, welded spots that may be weakening, and cleaning the area can reduce the risk of equipment failure and prevent injuries to workers.

Depending on the facility traffic, inspections are usually scheduled monthly to three or four times a year and kept in a log. The checklist includes visual checks for dents and other damage, checking the safety labels on the equipment, checking fluid levels and lubrication, and making adjustments. Having a well-documented maintenance plan that addresses these items will keep production up and running and eliminate the need to stop operations when problems arise.

In addition to saving time and money, a proactive approach to maintenance and servicing of dock equipment also protects your facility from fines from OSHA. Having an effective maintenance program that addresses dock levelers, compactors, dock doors, and trailer restraint systems will reduce the chance of equipment failure.

It’s important to remember that the purpose of a loading dock is to receive and ship products. Keeping this process going without interruption is essential to the success of any business. Whether you’re shipping by truck or rail, an efficient dock will minimize the amount of downtime in your operations and keep your business moving forward.