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Skid steer vs Compact track loader: Which is the best for you?

Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-04-13      Origin: Site

Over the years, many people have been detailing the pros and cons of  skid steer loaders and compact track loaders. While both are equally useful, but each one is best under a certain set of conditions.

If you're not sure whether a skid steer loader or a compact track loader is right for you, read on for a brief comparison of the two styles so you can decide which loader is best for the work you have to do.

Advantages of a Skid Steer

Skid Steer Loader1

While compact track loaders may be the first choice of landscapers and the darlings of the construction world these days, that’s not to say you should just ignore the many merits of a skid steer.

1. Suit for hard surfaces, tight spaces, and ice

Slip steering on tires moves easier and faster on hard surfaces like concrete and sidewalks, making it ideal for trouble-free transportation on large construction sites or other areas where machines cover long distances. Skid steer tops out at nearly 12 mph, while compact track loader tops out at around 9 mph at best.

Skid steer makes it easier to reverse rotation, giving you better maneuverability in tight spaces, because they are wheeled vehicles that rotate on a zero-turn radius using one wheel as a pivot. This allows them to take up less space when turning, making them ideal for small construction sites and tight spaces.

Also, the four tires on the skid steer apply more ground pressure than a track loader,with a ground pressure of 35 to 45 pounds per square inch, resulting in better traction and more efficient snow and ice removal than a track loader.

And all that weight is transferred to the ground on four tire contact patches that aren’t much bigger than 4-by-5 inches or so. This can be better for pushing snow, since most snow removal occurs on asphalt and concrete, tires will outlive tracks in this application.

2. Save money on up front costs, fuel , transportation, and maintain

The biggest difference between a skid steer and a track loader is the cost, a skid steer is simply the more economical option and likely to save money for you. Skid steers are more economical in terms of upfront costs, typically 20% to 30% lower upfront costs than comparable compact track loaders.

What’s more,skid steers are more fuel efficient because they are much lighter than similarly equipped compact track loaders, and skid steers have higher ground clearance, which makes them easier to board trailers with steeper slopes. So skid steers can greatly simplify and reduce the transportation cost of moving them from one site to another.

Finally, since tires provide more clearance than tracks when working on variable surfaces such as rough construction sites, this extra clearance can reduce dirt, rocks, stones, and other debris that can damage the machine chassis and cause horrific downtime possibility.

So skid steers are less expensive to maintain, while compact track loaders require more frequent and expensive maintenance, such as regular replacement of tracks, bogie wheels, sprockets and idlers and so on. A set of four new tires might set you back $1,200 to $2,000, compared to around $3,500 for a new set of tracks.

3. A variety of construction types and tread patterns

Third, skid steer tires are available in a variety of construction types and in a variety of tread patterns. Skid steer tires come in a variety of construction types, including bias tires, radial tires, solid tires, and crimp tires. That means you can find a tire for every type of operation, from basic bias to heavy-duty solid tires and everything in between. Diverse tread options allow operators to match their tires to their application.

skid steer loader tires

Advantages of a Compact Track Loader

Compact track loaders and skid steers switched market positions in the past decade, compact track loaders are now by far the dominant machine. There are several reasons why compact track loaders are more popular and have a bigger market.

1. More stable, more balanced and more powerful

Compact track loaders are heavier and come closer to a perfect weight balance, since that they can push off better and they can lift more. With two long tracks on the ground, they offer more traction, which can be used for more efficient dozing. And as a general rule, compact track loaders offer high horsepower options, which allows for more powerful auxiliary hydraulics.

At the same time, the weight, landing gear width and track length also contribute to its stability, especially on slopes. They provide a smoother ride, a more comfortable experience, and better material retention in the bucket.

That stability has brought compact track loaders to the attention of nontraditional users, such as paving contractors who use them for tasks such as sweeping up millings, running a broom attachment or a cold-planning attachment.

2. Much more turf-friendly and all-weather capability

Compact track loaders are great for working in tough conditions. In rain or mud, for example, the large track surface area prevents the weight of the track loader from sinking into the mud, allowing these machines to remain stable and not spin or get bogged down.

This also makes track loaders ideal for winter work, as ice has little effect on them as it does on the tires. Having the flexibility to work in inclement weather means you can get things done faster no matter the weather.

And since the tracks don't repeatedly scrape the surface, but rather glide over it, it means you have less maintenance. However, compact track loaders turf-friendly low ground pressure positives come at a price, they are typically around 12% to 20% higher than a skid steer. But there's no denying that compact track loader does a lot less damage to turf.


To compare some compact track loaders and skid steer loaders in person, come to one of our many dealership locations. Our dealerships can get you set up on the loader that best suits the work you have to do.

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