8 Important Things You Should Know About Gear Failure

8 Important Things You Should Know About Gear Failure

Date: November 17, 2017

Gears usually fail because of normal problems caused by use or maintenance. Over the lifespan of any piece of equipment, components will wear and eventually fail without proper maintenance, upkeep, and replacement. The following are eight of the most common reasons for gear failure and what you can do to prevent it.

Moderate wear and tear

Moderate wear causes gear failure due to contact patterns that are favored to the dedendum and addendum areas. This damage is caused by repeated use of the gear and is mostly inevitable. You can reduce the damage caused by moderate wear and tear by keeping your gearbox sufficiently lubricated. Scheduling regular inspections to catch potential contact damage early is also beneficial. Contamination of the lubricant can also result in contact patterns that are altered from original design. Be sure your lubricant is of high quality and is clean.

Excessive wear and tear

Excessive wear results from moderate damage that is never addressed and causes periodic problems. This wear results in pitting on the surfaces of the gear. Pitting causes vibration within the gearbox, which increases noise and damage to the gears. Eventually, this issue could result in total equipment failure. The best way to avoid excessive wear and tear on your gears is to address small issues early, so they don’t become big problems later.

Abrasive damage

Abrasive wear appears as radial scratch grooves and other marks that identify contact wear. Similar to moderate wear, abrasive wear and tear results when the lubrication is contaminated. The lubrication causes abrasions to the gear surfaces, which can result in increased noise, efficiency downgrades, and even gearbox failure. This type of gear damage can be prevented by replacing lubricant and keeping lubricant clean. Ideally, you should use a filter to catch foreign bodies like rust and other metal particulates before they enter the gears and cause failure.


Corrosive wear is a type of chemical breakdown process that can cause gear failure. When lubricants are broken down, the chemical detritus that remains eats away at the metal in the gears and can cause corrosion. Corrosive wear usually presents itself as fine, uniform pitting across the surface of a gear. Corrosion can be prevented by using new lubricants that prevent oil from breaking down.


Frosting is the appearance of micro-pits on the surface of a gear. This issue is caused when the heat breaks down the lubrication film. Regular inspection, maintenance, and temperature checks are critical for preventing frosting.


Spalling is a type of extreme pitting. The pits are wide in diameter and shallow. Spalling is present in high-contact areas within the gear. This issue can be prevented by addressing wear and tear as discussed above.


There are two types of pitting issues that can result in gear failure. Initial pitting appears as small pits and is an indication of gears not fitting together well. Destructive pitting, when pits occur in large diameters, indicates an issue with surface overload. Both types of pitting can be prevented through regular inspections and maintenance schedules to check gearbox operations.


Breakage occurs when a tooth or teeth actually break away. You can find evidence of breakage in the focal point of the wear that resulted in the break. Breakage can occur due to high stress, excessive load, or insufficient lubricant.

Get high quality industrial gearbox maintenance and repair

By choosing an experienced industrial gearbox repair company, you can expect concrete results that help protect your gears from failure. If you are looking for a reliable service provider that understands your gearbox, call Amarillo Gear Service in Amarillo, Texas today. You can call us at (806) 622-1273 for more information about our Amarillo Gear™ and Marley™ gearbox repair and Renewal services. You can also view the Regions We Service or Contact Us by email to learn more.

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