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3 Common Causes of Gearbox Failures and Malfunctions

3 Common Causes of Gearbox Failures and Malfunctions

Businesses that depend on industrial equipment must make maintenance a priority. Doing so will increase profits by eliminating expensive downtime and machine replacements. When inspecting your motors and generators, review your industrial gearboxes to check for any developing problems.

While many things could go wrong in an industrial setting, some things are more likely to occur than others. To preserve your equipment, you should look for these common causes of gearbox failures and malfunctions.


The gears within a gearbox must align perfectly to operate correctly. When they don’t, you can expect accelerated wear and tear that reduces efficiency. As time goes on, misaligned gears will grind against each other, causing complete breakdowns.

Misalignment often occurs because of improper installation. Technicians may also bump internal components out of place during routine inspections. Be careful when navigating your equipment to ensure you don’t cause any long-lasting damage.


Most industrial equipment has a large capacity for power. Even so, every machine has its limits. Overloading your gearbox is a surefire way to damage your equipment beyond repair.

Check your manufacturer's guide to determine your gearbox’s minimum and maximum power levels. Don’t try to push your equipment to handle more than it can naturally. If your gearbox can’t perform to your facility’s requirements, you’ll need to make an upgrade.

Poor Lubrication

The most common cause of gearbox failures and malfunctions is poor lubrication. Think of internal gears like teeth in a zipper; they mesh with each other. This interlocking system requires adequate lubrication to prevent friction from eroding your components.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as too much lubrication. Excess grease may contaminate other parts of your equipment that don’t support the material. You also risk overheating your gearbox when there’s too much lubrication for the machine to use.

Other Common Causes of Gearbox Failure

While these are the three main causes of gearbox failure, they aren’t the only ones you should keep an eye out for. Some other malfunctions to be aware of include:

  • Sealing failures

  • Bearing damage

  • Contamination unrelated to lubrication

  • Overheating unrelated to lubrication

If your gearbox has fallen victim to any of these circumstances, contact Illinois Electric Works ASAP. We offer Midwestern gearbox rebuild and inspection services to get your equipment up and running. Use our website to schedule a consultation today.


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