Owning high-quality equipment, like a Caterpillar, often means investing quite a bit of time and money to keep it running like new. However, you may not want to shell out the money required to buy the high-end Caterpillar Hydraulic (HYDO) oil every single time it needs to be changed. Are there Caterpillar Hydraulic Oil equivalents out there that are just as good but more affordable? You bet! That said since HYDO oil is specially formulated, finding the best Caterpillar hydraulic oil equivalent can be hard. Lucky for you, the work has already been done in this article.

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Caterpillar Hydraulic Oil Equivalents

Ready to see the best Caterpillar hydraulic oil equivalents available? Many hydraulic oils and TO-4 fluids tend to fall short of what Caterpillar demands, and so only the top-forming brands have made it on this list.

1. Performance Plus Caterpillar TO-4 Fluid

The first substitute for HYDO is the TO-4 fluid formula from Performance Plus, which is designed to exceed the specifications of TO-4 fluids. This is nearly a 1:1 equivalent to HYDO oil since it utilizes the same additives that you would find in Caterpillar HYDO hydraulic oil. Performance Plus Caterpillar TO4 Fluid is available in SAE 10W, 30W, and 50W, depending on your needs. Furthermore, it provides excellent shear stability, eliminates brake noise and clutch slippage, protects copper and copper alloy parts well, and is suited for use in off-road fork trucks, cranes, road grades, and other construction equipment.

2. SINOPEC TO-4 Hydraulic Transmission Fluid

Here is another example of a Caterpillar HYDO alternative that meets or exceeds the specifications for TO-4 fluids. Moreover, SINOPEC TO-4 is formulated for Cat TO-4, HyTrans, and TDTO oil systems and uses only the highest quality mineral oils and additives to make it complete. You can use this fluid in hydraulic systems, final drives, wet brakes, automatic transmissions, gearboxes, hydrostatic systems, and more. As with all fluids that meet TO-4 guidelines, SINOPEC’s hydraulic oil can protect against wear, improves clutch life, and has low-temperature fluidity. You will never have any problems when trying to plow snow.

3. SWEPCO Hydraulic Transmission Fluid TO-4/C-4

Although SWEPCO may not be a well-known name, it is a budget-friendly purchase that meets the expectations of TO-4 and C-4 standards. This is a multi-service lubricant that can be used in a wide variety of machinery, including those for agri-business and construction. SWEPCO’s TO-4 hydraulic oil uses base stocks, a blend of superior additives, and more. It promises to help with poor shift quality, high-temperature oxidation, and other issues that constantly rob heavy-duty machinery of power and efficiency.

4. Chevron Delo TorqForce 

Out of all the equivalents for Caterpillar hydraulic oil that have already been mentioned, Chevron’s Delo TorqForce is a true 1:1 match that can be swapped for Caterpillar’s HYDO Advanced formula. Like the competition, this fluid meets or exceeds TO-4 guidelines. But there is more: it is also ISOCLEAN certified. Select SAE 10W for hydraulic systems. With this brand, you are guaranteed longer equipment life, minimal downtime, and smooth operation. The additives are the same used in HYDO fluids, as well.

What is Caterpillar HYDO Oil?

Caterpillar HYDO is a form of hydraulic oil that is used to increase the performance of both hydraulic and hydrostatic systems in your heavy machinery. HYDO is the recommended oil for Caterpillars because it contains a special blend of additives and components that protect your machinery from damage. Most Caterpillar machines are filled with HYDO oil prior to leaving the factory.

What Does Caterpillar Say Can Be Used?

According to the information regarding Caterpillar HYDO and its use, the company states that if Caterpillar Hydraulic Oil is not used, the following formulas are acceptable substitutes:

  • Cat Diesel Engine Oil
  • Cat Multi-Purpose Tractor Oil: MTO
  • Cat Transmission/Drive Train Oil
  • Cat Transmission/Drive Train Oil TDTO (TMS)
  • Commercial Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil with a minimum zinc content of 900 ppm (CD, CF-4, CG-4, or CH-4)

One word of caution from Caterpillar is to not use industrial hydraulic oils, since they can shorten engine life. Many industrial hydraulic oils do not have the same anti-wear additives in them. Secondly, if any of your systems runs on the fluids listed above, HYDO is should not be used in place of them.

What to Look for in a Caterpillar Hydraulic Oil Equivalent

Now that you know a little about Caterpillar hydraulic oil, let’s discuss what similarities the equivalent should have to make it eligible for use.

Crankcase Viscosity

Cat Hydraulic Oil is available in two viscosities: SAE 10W and 30. You will want the Caterpillar hydraulic oil equivalent to be either SAW10 W or SAE 30 as well. Just keep in mind that you should not mix different oil weights!

TO-4 Specifications

TO-4 fluids are the latest for Caterpillar heavy machinery. The TO-2 specifications are considered outdated. The best practice is to not use it in your latest equipment. TO-4 fluids are formulated SAE 10W, 30, and 50 oils that meet Caterpillar’s transmission and drivetrain lubrication specifications. Improvements on TO-4 fluids include improved clutch life, control gear wear, and hydraulic oil stability.

Typical TO-4 Specifications Include:

SAE Viscosity GradeSAE 10WSAE 30SAE 50
API Gravity lbs/gal29.4/7.3227.8/7.4027.1/7.43
Viscosity at 40°C, cSt39.796.4212
Viscosity at 100°C, cSt6.411.518.4
Viscosity Index11110796
Flash, COC, °F410450460
Pour Point °F (°C)-38 (-39)-22 (-30)-17 (-27)

You can use the chart above to help you find TO-4 fluids that match the characteristics of Caterpillar HYDO.

Specific Additives

Cat HYDO uses specifically balanced additives, including anti-wear agents, dispersants, detergents, rust inhibitors, and defoamers. The main thing you will want to look for is the use of zinc dithiophosphate (at least 900 ppm) in the substitute. Zinc dithiophosphate is an anti-wear agent that works extremely well in Cat engines. Also look for emulsifiers, air release agents, antioxidants, and detergents in whichever Caterpillar hydraulic oil equivalent you decide to purchase.

Wrapping Up

Oftentimes, finding alternatives for things like heavy equipment and hydraulic oil can be difficult. Fortunately, Caterpillar hydraulic oil equivalents are not as challenging, as you can see from the list in this article. However, if you are looking for the best, choose Chevron’s Delo TorqForce first, as it is a nearly identical formula and will work the best. If you are on a budget, feel free to try the other alternatives!

Have a John Deere? Check out our list of hydrostatic fluid substitutes.


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