Top Mini Digger Operator Errors and Solutions

There are several top digger operator errors that we see day in and out in the plant hire industry. So, in this article, we are going to share with you how to avoid them along with the common solutions to them all.

Understanding common errors can allow you to be far more efficient when choosing to hire a digger. This ultimately means, faster completion times and less cost spent on hiring machinery. In addition, knowledge of these errors can also prevent any nasty accidents from happening.

Being able to troubleshoot common errors yourself can save you a huge amount of time when trying to get the job done. Most of the top mini digger operator errors we are going to share with you can be rectified in seconds. So, there is no better time to jump right in.

Understanding Common Errors Made By Mini Digger Operators.

At WHC Hire we see lots of common errors made on mini diggers and excavators of all sizes. To help, we have compiled together to share the most common across the board. These are as follows:

  • Starting the machine
  • Seatbelt
  • Changing buckets
  • Understanding the controls
  • Coupling/uncoupling attachments

Starting the machine

One of the most common errors made by mini digger drivers is starting the equipment. Many machines have different methods to start, and require additional checks to be made beforehand. Problems like this can cause unwanted stress when hiring machinery.


Seatbelts are one of the most underrated safety systems in a mini digger. Commonly, many mini digger operators will bypass using them. However, for your safety and those around you, having the seatbelt engaged at all times is vital. Some excavator manufacturers do not allow the machine to start without the seatbelt being fastened and pressure being applied to the operator seat.

Changing buckets

Another top mini digger operator error is being unable to change the excavator bucket successfully. Different buckets are used for various tasks when using an excavator. So, when you are unable to change your mini digger bucket, you are likely going to lose out on operating time. Knowing how your excavator’s hitch operates is essential to your productivity levels.

Understanding the controls

Not every excavator is the same. Even if you are a seasoned operator, it does take a small amount of time to collaborate with a different machine. If you regularly hire machinery from different suppliers, this error is more prominent. Taking time to familiarize yourself with the features of the excavator will pay massive dividends throughout your project.

Coupling/uncoupling attachments

This error is not for everyone, however, for many who use a hydraulic attachment on their excavators, it’s common to have issues with them. The process of coupling and uncoupling hydraulic hoses to an excavator is not a straightforward matter. Each design and manufacture of the excavator will have a different process to do so. Failure to do this correctly could encourage the attachment to cease. Ultimately, slowing your progress down and potentially costing you a repair charge.

Now that we have highlighted the most common errors when operating a mini digger, let’s now look at how we can avoid them.

Avoid these top mistakes when operating a hired mini digger

Who is a small digging machine for

There are several common mistakes made when operating a hired mini digger, all of which can affect your overall productivity, safety, and efficiency. These are:

Starting a hired mini digger

If you have never used a particular mini digger before, you should always ask about the correct start-up procedure. Each excavator manufacturer will have a slightly different variant and may require certain safety deterrents to be in place to do so. When you collect your mini digger from your plant hire supplier, ask for a demonstration on how to do so.

Connecting the seatbelt

Many operators make the mistake of trying to start the machine without the seatbelt engaged. Most manufacturers of mini diggers that are used by rental companies will not work without them. Operators should remember that safety is paramount when it comes to using any type of machinery. The seatbelt in an excavator can save your life if the machine is to overturn.

Swapping digger buckets

If you haven’t used the type of hitch that comes with a particular hired excavator, then knowing the correct procedure to do so is vital. Incorrect methods can lead to breakdowns and in some cases damaged buckets. Meaning… more hire charges. To prevent this from happening, you should always speak to your provider if you are unaware of how to do so. A small 2-minute walk-through can save you hours in the field.

Knowing the controls

Most hired mini diggers will operate in a similar fashion. However, taking your time to know all of your controls can improve your safety when using the machine. We highly recommend that you practise with the equipment prior to using it live in the field. Familiarize yourself with all the machine’s components so that when it comes to working, you can be as efficient as possible. Remember not all excavator layouts are the same.

Hydraulic attachments

Hired mini diggers can use a wide range of hydraulic attachments to boost productivity on a project. The problems come when trying to make any changes. Incorrect venting or de-pressuring of the equipment will increase the safety risk and probability of damaging the equipment. It is vital that venting takes place before and after the use of the attachment. If you are ever unsure of how to do so, speak directly to your supplier. As each machine is different the sequence to do so will also differ.

Even though you do not need an excavator license to hire a mini digger. We would highly recommend that you receive training to use one. This, overall will highlight the correct safety features when using any type of machine, including safe digging techniques. For more information on receiving excavator training, see our friends Vally Plant Training.

Solutions to frequently encountered issues with mini digger operators

Spending time with a particular mini digger will no doubt lead to better performance levels. But for some, time is of the essence. So being brought up to speed quickly is essential. Let’s have a close look at the correct solutions to frequently encountered issues with a hired mini digger.

Correct mini digger starting procedure

Tutorial example:

Getting a mini digger started may require different methods, including the use of keycodes. Nevertheless, this tutorial video highlights many of the key points that are required on all mini excavators. These are as follows:

  • Enter the machine safely
  • Engage your seatbelt
  • Ensure the left-hand armrest is upward
  • Prime the engine
  • Turn to start
  • Lower left-hand armrest to engage hydraulics and begin working

If for some reason your rented mini digger does not start after completing the sequence, there could be a mechanical fault. We would highly recommend that in cooler weather, allow the machine to warm up before starting your work. All breakdowns should be reported to your supplier.

Changing buckets

Tutorial example:

Changing buckets on an excavator can be a troublesome task. Especially if you are not aware of the correct sequence. This is dependent on the type of excavator hitch is attached to the hired equipment. You can also see an example of removing a bucket on a manual hitch in our Mirco Digger bucket change tutorial.

Some key areas that will be similar across all bucket changes, are as follows:

  • Have the machine running
  • Disengage pins of the bucket, manually or via hydraulics
  • Lower and disconnect bucket
  • Pick up new attachment
  • Lock bucket pins
  • Test the bucket by shaking and applying pressure through it

If you have never hired a small digger before, we recommend you discover how to switch buckets correctly to avoid any delays out on-site. If you struggle to attach or detach the bucket using the correct method, you could have a fault with your machinery. In this case, always consult your supplier.

Understanding the controls

Tutorial example:

Getting to know your hired machinery is essential before starting any type of work. There are some extremely important components you will want to be aware of to aid you in your tasks. Here is a list of the common components you should look out for:

  • Seatbelt
  • Pilot controls
  • Attachment operation toggle switches
  • Horn
  • Tracking levers
  • Slew
  • Heading up dashboard and warning lights
  • Console controls
  • Dozer blade
  • Fast track button
  • Throttle
  • Ignition
  • Keycodes (if any)
  • Heaters
  • Kill switches
  • Hydraulic hitch buttons (if applicable)

As you can see, there are a huge amount of vital controls to familiarise yourself with. Especially if you haven’t used a particular machine before. You can always refer to digital resources to help you.

Coupling/uncoupling attachments

Tutorial example:

Coupling and uncoupling an attachment to the hydraulic system is a detailed procedure. The tutorial video above provides one example, however, in truth, there are many others. Despite this, there are still several similarities:

Before coupling

  • Lower left hand arm rest
  • Key on to position 1 (ignition only)
  • Vent hydraulic and auxiliary circuits
  • Couple breaker and hoses to excavator
  • Turn on and operate as normal


  • Lower attachment into resting position
  • Raise left arm rest
  • Turn off
  • Lower left arm rest
  • Key on to position 1 (ignition only)
  • Vent hydraulic and auxiliary circuits
  • Exit the machine to uncouple

It is essential that auxiliary and hydraulic venting takes place. Failure to do so will cause damage to the excavator and the attachment. Some of which can become costly errors. Disconnecting the attachment after use is generally the more difficult to remember. Therefore, this reminder should help. If ever in doubt, always ask your hire specialist.

How you can avoid these common operator errors by using equipment from WHC Hire.

avoid these common operator errors

WHC Hire Services operates one of the largest independent plant hire fleets in the UK. Backed by a new digital QR Enabled service, mini digger operators have access to more on site help than ever. The QR Enabled service can be accessed by scanning the WHC QR code found on all enabled machinery. In seconds, our step by step tutorials will keep you moving and maximise your productivity when hiring an excavator. Meet and get to know our machinery in our tutorial vault or see specs of our mini digger range here. If you are looking for a quote to hire a mini digger get in touch on 01684377977

Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions