The Bobcat 733 is a skid steer loader made by one of the most trusted manufacturers.
It’s a popular model that has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from consumers thanks to its versatile applications, making it an excellent choice for everything from gardening to heavier-duty farm work.
With an operating capacity of 1,750lbs, there are very few things this machine cannot handle.
But despite the positive reviews, the fact they’ve been around since 1990 and that, in general, they require very little upkeep and maintenance. There do seem to be specific recurring issues that crop up for users regardless of what application it’s used in.
So today, we’re going to go through all the most common problems that can occur on the Bobcat 733, talk about how to solve them, and finally share our thoughts on whether this machine is a good investment for you.
The most common problems with the Bobcat 773
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Many consider Bobcat to set the industry standard for reliability, quality, and performance. It boasts excellent maneuverability (although some have called it as being a bit bouncy, not the end of the world) and a heavy-duty 46-horsepower engine that’ll have it hauling your most heavy of loads.
The 733 also brought many new and enhanced features to the table, from the enhanced seven mph driving speed, noise reduction thanks to the denser panel insulation, and small, user-friendly tweaks.
It sounds like the ideal choice!
However, there are well-known and documented issues that can crop up with the 733, so let’s take a closer look at what they are and some suggestions on how you can rectify them.
1. Hydraulic hose burst
Generally speaking, you will get thousands of hours of use out of a Bobcat mini loader before age, wear, and the elements start to affect it.
But one thing that will happen over time is the hoses and attachments that circulate the hydraulic fluid to the lifting arm will break down. If they burst, it will be a hefty repair that may cost you several thousand dollars in mechanic fees.
Usually, the breaking point is not due to the hose itself but the attached metal bands holding it together. The bands will degrade and rust over time, causing them to become more brittle and easier to snap.
For general day-to-day usage, this doesn’t present much of an issue. However, as soon as you have a slightly heavier job where you need to put the extra pressure on the bucket, it may be enough to rupture that hose and cause it to leak hydraulic fluid.
Again, this is an expensive job if it bursts and you need to have a mechanic repair it, so it’s worth checking them every few months and addressing them pre-emptively when you see they become too brittle and rusty.
This is particularly important if you store your bobcat mini loader in cold, wet, or damp environments where that fragile metal can easily rust or erode.
2. Fuel pump failure
An essential part of the compact tractor operation is the fuel pump to push fuel from the fuel tank to the engine at a steady rate to maintain that all-important fuel-to-air ratio. This is similar to issues you might find on the John Deere tractors.
If this isn’t done correctly, the engine will start not to run smoothly or stall.
If your fuel pump fails, you will immediately notice a drop in fuel pumped into the engine. If this happens, replacing the faulty pump with a new one is necessary.
- Start by opening the hood of the Bobcat 733
- Look at the pump; there should be two fuel lines coming out from either side of the pump.
- These need to be disconnected from the pump but do note the residual fuel will leak out a bit, so be sure to place some rags underneath to catch any excess fluid that will leak out.
- Pull each fuel line away from your pump using your hands and place the ends facing down into the rags to catch any excess fuel drips.
- We need to remove the pump itself; start by removing the bolts connecting the pump to the bracket using a ratchet and socket.
- Lift off the pump bracket, providing direct access to the fuel pump.
- Remove all additional bolts holding the fuel pump in place, and then remove each end of the pump body from the assembly with your hands.
Once the old pump has been removed, you can discard and re-install the new one using the reverse of the removal method mentioned above.
3. The parking brake
As we mentioned, a Bobcat 733 may have been manufactured as early as the mid-’90s, which is a testament to their resilience and design, seeing as you will still encounter so many of these compact tractor machines being used today.
However, some elements will require a certain amount of upkeep, no matter how good the design is.
One such mechanism is the parking brake. The Bobcat 733 uses a system in which the rear wheels are locked into place using a spring-loaded cable assembly and a ratchet mechanism, which, when engaged by the brake pedal in the cab, will lock the ratchet mechanic into place, preventing the wheels from moving.
Because this is a spring-loaded cable system, it can come out of alignment over time. This means that when pressure is applied to the system within the cab, the brake itself doesn’t hold properly, or if it does lock into place, there’s a chance it won’t disengage even after pressing the brake pedal.
This is somewhat inevitable, so the parking brake adjustment is something you should keep as a part of your general maintenance routine so it doesn’t get the chance to become ‘so’ out of alignment you cannot move and need to call a technician.
4. Clogged filters
One common problem that will cause an excess of pressure to build up within the hydraulic system is clogged case drain filters.
This essentially prevents the fluid from draining adequately, resulting in an excess pressure buildup. This may be minor at first, but if the blockage and pressure become excessive, it can cause severe issues with your compact track loader.
It can cause nasty damage, including breaking apartment beatings and rotator groups and damaging some of the external plates.
Don’t worry if this sounds a little dramatic. It will be fine if you keep up with the good general maintenance practices of the machine and ensure you replace these filters around the same time as you change/clean the other filters.
An easy way to tell if your filter is already old and clogged is by its appearance. A fresh drain is a bright bronze. However, they will attain a dark and filthy appearance as they age. As tempting as it may be to clean them, this is not recommended – just replace them.
5. Main bearing failure
Over time bearing will wear down, we all know this. However, common practices can be employed to extend the lifespan of the bearings on your Bobcat mini excavator.
Every 500 hours of use (don’t include idle time in this), the oil in the hub bearing needs to be checked and replaced if the level falls too low, the bearings will age quickly, and if they break apart, it’s going to make for an expensive repair.
If you notice your oil looks glittery, that is metal particulate from the bearings, and they should be closely inspected and replaced if necessary.
6. Faulty seat bar light and sensor
Another issue users have reported is that the seat bar light will turn itself off or behave in a usual/ unexpected way.
People have tried to find a consistent method of troubleshooting this issue by checking fuses, sensors, and batteries, but it seems random and intermittent.
In this scenario, there is most commonly an underlying problem contributing to this, and we recommend talking to an expert who can diagnose and fix the issue correctly.
7. Defective charge pump
A defective charge pump is often mistaken for an engine issue as it may cause your Bobcat’s performance to drop dramatically or even lean to one side.
If your vehicle is doing this, we recommend checking if the charge pump is broken, as many users have reported that replacing it has fixed the issue.
Bobcat 773 problems: Are they a deal-breaker?
Although it may seem like there are many issues with the Bobcat 773, these are all general things that should be considered no matter what tractor you decide to purchase, as they will appear equally as frequently on the popular John Deere models.
Bobcat is a trusted brand; if you take good care of the machine, it will serve you well for years.