Should I Rent a Wheeled Skid Steer or a Compact Track Loader?

Understanding the Equipment Pros and Cons = A Wise Rental Choice

Ask what the most desired and useful piece of construction equipment on a job site is and you’re likely to hear in response: the skid steer loader. Why? Because the skid steer loader is one of the most rented vehicles in the construction equipment rental industry. You’ll find skid steers in use by general contractors at one time or another because they are so versatile.

 Skid Steer Rental

Wheeled Skid Steer Loader

While the skid steer preceded the compact track loader in the evolution of construction equipment, the two are considered sister vehicles. And like sisters, they share many similarities as well as some significant differences. The most easily recognized difference is the skid steer has wheels while the compact track loader does not.

Deciding which to rent involves more than wheels versus tracks.  Making a prudent decision between the two options is helped by understanding the features offered by each, and how these features translate into getting your job done most efficiently.

What Is the Composition of the Ground Surface to Be Traversed?

The job site ground surface and/or terrain are prime considerations, as are traction, stability and mobility. The effect or impact of the machine on the ground itself is also very important to consider.

Skid steers perform well on flat, solid surfaces like concrete or asphalt, especially if equipped with very firm tires. Their ability to maneuver quickly on firm ground is an advantage over the more lumbering track loader. However, with the weight of the skid steer concentrated in four points where the tires contact the ground, there is a greater tendency to “cut” into the ground, where tracks distribute the weight of the vehicle more evenly over the ground.

Track Loader

A Track Loader

Rolling, muddy, sandy, or snow covered terrain favor the track loader, with more traction surface contacting the ground enabling better performance, as well as greater stability on these surfaces. Stability provides greater lifting and breakout force. If your site is subject to changes in the terrain caused by weather, the track loader can keep on working while a skid steer’s mobility may become hampered.

Overall, the damage a machine can do to the ground may hold the most weight with your decision. Tracks do tend to chew up ground more than wheeled vehicles. If your project is on undeveloped ground or ground which will later be addressed or repaired by landscapers, the damage a tracked loader will inflict is not significant. On urban or developed ground, you’ll likely want to avoid this type of damage as it can affect the value of the property.

With regard to stability, tracked machines offer greater stability due to greater ground contact, a wider footprint and a lower center of gravity. This is a key consideration when working on loose, wet, or unstable ground. Wheeled skid steers tend to sink into loose soil or slip/slide on slopes.

Track Loaders Have a Tighter Turning Radius in Small Spaces

A final advantage track loaders off is a smaller turning radius. Important if your job site or project is conducted in a small space.

Track loaders also tend to offer better comfort for the machine operator.

In summary, traction, ground protection, mobility and stability are the main considerations when choosing between track loaders and skid steers. Both offer advantages you should weigh prior to making your equipment rental decision.

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At Rent It Today you can find rental providers for tracked and wheeled construction equipment with the expertise to help you evaluate which choice offers greater benefit for your specific situation.

To find construction equipment rentals in your region, simply click here. You can also contact the Rent It Today call center at 866-441-5246 to speak with a knowledgeable rental consultant who can help you find rentals in your area.









About Bob Schrichte

Robert Bob Schrichte is a graduate of Ohio State University with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Communications. Bob’s background is in both sales and writing. He enjoys spoiling a good walk in the woods by bringing along his golf bag.

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