Should I Rent a Tire Skid Loader or a Track Skid Loader? What’s the Difference?

If you need to move dirt, sand, or gravel on your property or job site the best tool for the job is likely a skid steer, aka skid loader. This compact piece of machinery consists of a protected driver/operator area and typically has an attached scoop bucket out front, although there are a wide variety of optional attachments.

The advantages of renting a skid steer include their mobility, strength, and portability. They can dig into a hillside to create a level area, carry fill dirt, sand, or gravel and spread it out, move large rocks. With a wide variety of available attachments they can even dig post holes, plane concrete or asphalt, and till and seed a reclaimed lot or vegetable garden. The skid steer is even available in a couple of different options, a tire skid loader or a track skid loader.

Tire Skid Steer

Tire skid loaders come equipped with four tires much like your car. The biggest difference from your car lies in how they operate in conjunction to turn the skid loader. On your car, the front tires typically turn left and right via input from the steering wheel. On a tire skid loader, the tires on one side slow while the other side tires accelerate to direct the skid steer into a turn. For example, when turning left, the left side tires slow while the right side tires speed up. This causes the skid steer to spin around the left side tires. In extreme turns, the tires on the side of the desired turn may even reverse while the opposite side goes forward.

Skid steer loaders equipped with tires are best suited to hard, even ground. Paved surfaces or established turf provide enough traction for tires and the increased mobility and speed of the tire-equipped unit will shine with increased productivity. Use caution on grass lawn surfaces though, as even the tire-equipped skid loader can do damage to the turf if the ground is soft or when executing tight turns. In some cases, it is possible to get tires that are more or less aggressive to better suit your needs.

Track Skid Steer

The track skid loader comes equipped with tracks that are much like what you normally see on a bulldozer or a tank instead of tires. The track skid steer operates much like the tire-equipped version as far as driving and turning. Typically, there is a left and a right joystick-type controller. In addition to operating the attachments, these controllers operate the drive mechanism of the skid steer. Pushing both equally forward will send the machine straight forward and pulling both equally back will cause the machine to reverse straight backward. Applying a little less pressure on the left stick will cause the machine to veer left. Think of it as driving a shopping cart.

Track-equipped skid steers are best suited to rough terrain that may be muddy or snow-packed. The tracks provide superior traction and weight distribution compared to tire-equipped versions. They are somewhat slower and less agile but in situations where traction is at a premium, they are the better choice compared to tires. Track skid steers will require more maintenance and will create damage on any finished lawn and landscaped surfaces, but each type of machine has its place.

If you are ready to tackle that big job, or if you’d like more information or just have questions about what equipment is available that can help make your task easier, contact us today for all of your skid steer rental needs. With locations in Franklin, OH, Vandalia, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Lima, OH, and Florence, KY we have equipment available and are ready to meet your needs.