Common Problems Starting Your Hired Dumper. QUICK TIPS

Nothing is more frustrating than hiring a piece of machinery, only to struggle to operate it. Starting a hired dumper should be an easy task no matter the manufacturer you choose to hire. However, without being fully accustomed to using a particular model, there is no doubt you may end up wasting valuable time. We designed this resource to help you put your best foot forward when it comes to hiring a 4×4 dumper. Using this information could, in fact save you a huge amount of time if you are struggling to start your equipment. So, on that note, let’s dive straight into it and help start your machine.

Why problems occur when starting your hired dumper

If you have hired your dumper from a reputable equipment supplier, the chances that there is something mechanically wrong with your machine are low. However, there are a few reasons why a problem may occur when trying to start your hired dumper. These are as follows:

  • Lack of knowledge of the equipment
  • Fuel
  • Damaged
  • Mechanical issue

Lack of knowledge of the equipment

Being accustomed to a particular dumper model only comes with time operating the machine. Even if you have used a similar-sized model or manufacturer before, it can sometimes take you time to adjust to the equipment. It is always worth asking your supplier for a handover tutorial when the equipment arrives or you collect it. The quicker you can familiarise yourself with the equipment, the far more efficient you will be when it comes to operating the equipment. Even if you have used a machine before, it is always worth asking to avoid any operating delays down the line.


It all almost sounds too real to be true, but yes, one quite apparent issue with earthmoving equipment, in general, is fuelling. Always make sure that it is adequately fueled after your day’s work. It is common that operators may try to start their machinery with very little or low fuel in the dumper tank. This can, in fact cause unwanted breakdowns due to sediment in the machine’s tank, or air being pumped through the machine system. Both of which are costly and can take hours to rectify.  


Damage to a dumper can is caused in many ways. This can be due to operator error, acts of god or unforeseen circumstances. Nevertheless, before stating a dumper for a day’s work, you should always ensure it is in perfect working order as you complete your daily checklist. Daily checks include visual, electrical, safety and fluid and level checks of the machine. If during any of these, you come across an issue, you should immediately contact your supplier for assistance.

Mechanical issues

The last problem that might occur is that you come into difficulty whilst operating the machinery. Mechanical issues are very rare, provided the machinery has not been used inappropriately. If you choose to hire a dumper from a reputable supplier who uses a market-leading manufacturer, then chances are you won’t have any issues. However, no matter where you obtain your equipment from, if you have a mechanical issue you must immediately report it and stop using the dumper.

Things to consider when troubleshooting problems with starting your hired dumper

If you ever find yourself in a position where your dumper doesn’t start, then there are a few things you can try to troubleshoot the issue. Let’s have a closer look at each start-up component together. Please note that not all of these will be associated with the dumper you are using. However, it is best to have a clear understanding of all potential start-up restrictions to help troubleshoot any machine.

Let’s get started with a very important machine component which is the ROPS bar.

ROPS bar

ROPS bar

A ROPS (rollover protection) bar is fitted to all earthmoving dumpers to protect the operator should the machine tip over. Usually, you’ll see ROPS bars by the operator’s seat. You’ll need to lift and lock them before using the machine. These bars are normally secured with fittings and linchpins to hold the frame in place. Ensure that prior to starting the machine, this bar is in the correct position and secured correctly. On top of these bars are normally the machines operating beacons. These also need to be secured correctly. An electrical fault due to unsecured operating beacons can cause the dumper to not turn on.

Kill switch

Killswitch dumper

Not all dumpers have kill switches on them. However, models that do can cause some issues when trying to start a machine. This feature is usually found on hydrostatic dumper models. However, some manufacturers will vary. It is worth noting which position the kill switch is required to be in to start the machine. Sometimes when exiting or entering a dumper, kill switches can be touched, which will cause a machine to not start. If a dumper fails to turn up then you should always check that the kill switch is in the correct starting position.  Once in the correct starting position, the dumper should start easily.


dumper seat belt

The most important of all the start-up and safety features on a dumper is the operator’s seatbelt. It also happens to be one of the most frequently overlooked as well. In our experience, the seatbelt on a dumper is the most common issue when a dumper will not start or move. A lot of manufacturers install this feature to protect the operator. This ensures that if the machine is to turn over the operator will avoid a fatal injury. Most injuries occur on 4×4 articulated dumpers due to seatbelts not being worn. To avoid any delay in operating a hired dumper. Be sure you fasten the seatbelt around you before attempting to start the machine’s engine.  

It is worth noting that the green safety beacon will begin to flash when you have your seatbelt attached. If you ever struggle with starting a dumper, always double-check that this beacon is flashing to troubleshoot the issue.


Handbrake on a dumper

Another element to troubleshoot if you are having problems starting your dumper is the handbrake. Before starting your machine’s engine, you should always ensure that it is not going to move when turned on. This not only can be a risk to the operator but to anyone working in the near vicinity. Some dumper models will not even allow you to start the engine without the handbrake correctly engaged. Handbrakes can be found in a range of different positions, they can be hydraulic, manual, or hydrostatic. If you are ever unsure you should consult your dumper hire provider.

Gear lever

Gear lever

Now that all of your safety checks are complete after checking your ROPs bar, seatbelt and handbrake, the next common problem starting your hired dumper is the gear lever. It is common for a lot of operators to leave the machine in gear when turning it off after a day of work. This, in turn, leads to issues starting the machine the next morning. All 4×4 dumpers require to be in neutral to safely start them. It is common that the machine will not even turn over when trying to start in this manner. Always be sure to check that the gear lever is in the neutral position prior to turning the key in the ignition. This will save you time and stress overall.


Priming a dumpers engine is essential to a safe and clean start to the machine engine. Essentially what priming does is sends fuel via the fuel pump to areas on the machine that require it to start the engine. Priming is not only essential the first time you turn your dumper on for the day, but every single time you restart the engine. This allows for an easy start of the machine’s engine. Some machines may offer an automatic priming system, however, most operate on a manual basis. This may require you to turn an operator key to the left before turning the ignition on. Or you may have to hold the key in a particular position within the ignition t do so. Always consult your supplier during the handover period.  

Is it a mechanical problem?

If you are still not having success starting your hired dumper after trying all of these troubleshooting errors. Then it is likely that you may have a mechanical fault with your machine. (Not what you need!) So what should you do next?

The best and safest port of call is to immediately contact your supplier and explain the situation. DO NOT attempt to fix the machine yourself. If you have hired a machine then it is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure the machinery works correctly and safely. When in this position, your supplier will either come to rectify the issue or replace the equipment.

If you are looking to hire a dumper from world-leading manufacturers then look no further. WHC Hire Services provides a wide range of articulated and tracked dumpers for projects of all sizes. From 550Kg-9T we have the widest range of equipment to suit any task. WHC also provides its clients with step-by-step guides to help when operating the machinery in the field. Always supporting and boosting your productivity throughout your hire! For more information see our full dumper range here, or get in contact on 01684377977 today. Alternatively, if you’re stuck getting your machine started, click here to see our tutorial videos available now!

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