How to Remove a Hydraulic Cylinder Piston


Pressurized fluid pushes directly against a hydraulic cylinder's piston. This pressure moves the piston, which moves whatever else the cylinder rod end is attached onto. Most cylinders have a small number of parts, but the piston is probably the most important part of a hydraulic cylinder. If a cylinder malfunctions, the piston may be to blame, but the only way to access the piston is to take the entire cylinder apart.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrenches
  • Bench vise
  • Soft jawed-vise
  • Snap-ring pliers
  • Spanner wrench
  • Gland wrench
  • Unscrew any hydraulic caps on the cylinder ports drain all the hydraulic fluid. Tilt each fluid port over a bucket and let the fluid drain into it.

  • Secure the cylinder in a bench vise and pull the rod until it fully extends.

  • Remove the head cap or other piston rod retaining device. Use a spanner wrench to remove most typical end caps; but you will need snap-ring pliers to remove a head cap or rod guide held by a snap ring. Other cylinders may be secured with different retaining devices that may also require special tools.

  • Pull the rod completely out of the cylinder barrel.

  • Place the entire rod end into a soft-jawed vise.

  • Unscrew the nut that secures the piston. Remove the nut and the piston.

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  • Photo Credit pump image by Aleksander Nordaas from
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