Hydraulic fluids serve two functions in the hydraulic system; to transfer energy and to lubricate the system. The energy transfer role is relatively well understood while lubrication assessment has been hindered by inability to adequately model hydraulic systems in general by small-scale pump prototypes or by bench testing. In general, most conventional bench tests do not adequately model wear which may accompany hydraulic fluid use in various hydraulic pump designs. Therefore, this has necessitated the use of hydraulic pumps as tribological test stands. The objectives of this paper are to: 1) review common failure modes of different types of hydraulic pumps, 2) provide an overview of the deficiencies of bench testing of hydraulic fluids, 3) review the tribological criterion for successful lubrication of vane, piston and gear pump testing, 4) review the most common pump tests reported to date, and 5) critique the quality of these tests relative to their ability to provide the required data.
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