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Skid Steers: 11 Frequently Asked Questions

Skid Steers: 11 Frequently Asked Questions

Skid Steers: 11 Frequently Asked Questions

Reading time: 5 min

What is a Skid Steer?

A skid steer is a type of heavy equipment machine with lifting arms that operates attachments, such as buckets, at the front of the machine. They feature differential steering and wheels with a fixed alignment. Their compact, highly maneuverable design makes them a popular choice in construction and landscaping.

What makes a skid steer unique from other kinds of heavy equipment is its novel design. Skid steers are typically four-wheeled, though they can also be mounted on tracks.

Modern skid steers have dual transmissions, meaning the right-side wheels are operated independently of the left-side wheels. This dual-transmission design is essential to a skid steer’s differential steering mechanism, which grants them zero-radius turning.

Skid steers are extremely versatile and exceedingly common on small scale construction and landscaping projects. There is also a wide variety of attachments available which can augment a skid steer’s capabilities.

What is a Skid Steer Used For?

Skid steers are used for a variety of applications in construction, mining, landscaping, road building, excavation and agriculture. They are especially popular for small-medium sized projects or applications in cramped spaces, since their compact design allows them to operate more easily than larger machines.

Some of the most common uses for skid steers include:

  • Digging and trenching
  • Grading soil in preparation for construction
  • Hauling topsoil, gravel or mulch
  • Moving palletized materials in a warehouse or lumber yard
  • Demolishing existing structures like walls or sheds
  • Clearing snow and removing debris

How Much Does a Skid Steer Weigh?

On average, skid steers can weigh anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 lbs. A typical skid steer, like the Bobcat S510, weighs about 8,000 lbs. Generally speaking, more powerful skid steers tend to be heavier, whereas less powerful models designed for small projects tend to be lighter.

The weight of a skid steer depends on a number of factors, such as the make and model of the skid steer and the attachments being used.

At the heavy end of the spectrum, larger skid steers such as the CAT 272D3 weigh just over 9,000 lbs., while lighter models such as the John Deere JD24 weigh under 5,000 lbs.

How Wide is a Skid Steer?

Small frame skid steers are about 3 ft. wide, while medium and large skid steers are 5 ft. and 6 ft. wide, respectively. Skid steers are designed to be compact and maneuverable. While larger skid steers are more powerful than their smaller counterparts, they’re not as easy to handle in cramped spaces.

How Much Can a Skid Steer Lift?

Small-frame skid steers typically lift around 1,500 lbs., while medium- and large-frame skid steers can lift up to 2,500 lbs. and 3,500 lbs., respectively.

Keep in mind that these numbers represent general estimates and the operating capacity of your skid steer is dependent on its make and model, as well as other factors. To find the lifting capacity of your skid steer, consult with your machine’s operating manual. The operating manual should provide the machine’s lifting capacity or its rated operating capacity.

Who Makes the Best Skid Steer?

Bobcat debuted the skid steer in the 1950s with the introduction of the first compact skid steer loader. To this day, Bobcat remains the most popular brand of skid steer and the brand is nearly synonymous with this type of heavy equipment.

While Bobcat is the oldest skid steer manufacturer, there are a number of great alternatives on the market including Case and Kubota.

What are the Best Attachments for Skid Steers?

The best attachments for skid steers are forks, buckets, augers and grapples. Forks, buckets and grapples greatly improve your skid steer’s ability to carry materials, while augers are ideal for digging deep holes.

While these are some of the most common attachments for skid steers, the best attachment for your skid steer will depend on your particular application. If you’re looking for more information about skid steer attachments, and which ones will work best for you, check out this guide on the 10 best skid steer attachments.

How Much Does a Skid Steer Cost?

A new skid steer can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000. A skid steer’s price is affected by a number of factors, including the machine’s make and model, its frame size, carrying capacity and other features.

The most influential factor in a skid steer’s price is its frame size. Generally, mini and small-framed skid steers are cheapest, while medium- and large-framed skid steers cost the most. For example, a Bobcat S70, a type of mini skid steer, costs about $20,000-$25,000. Meanwhile, the Bobcat S770, a large-framed skid steer, costs $55,000-$60,000. 

What Size Skid Steer Do I Need?

The best size skid steer for your application depends on how much power you need and whether you plan on working in cramped or tight work spaces.

Most skid steers can be classified as mini/small, medium, or large. Most mini or small skid steers will have basic power (around 50HP), but incredible maneuverability and a small footprint. On the other hand, large skid steers offer a ton of power (around 90HP), but can be up to twice as large as more compact models.

Getting the best skid steer for your needs will require you to find the appropriate balance between size/maneuverability and power. For small construction projects or residential landscaping, mini or medium skid steers are a safe choice. For large construction projects where power is required, such as in demolition projects, large skid steers are the preferred choice.

Where Can I Rent a Skid Steer Near Me?

Skid steers can easily be rented through a local rental yard. EquipmentShare has rental yards located throughout the US with a variety of heavy equipment, including skid steers, available for rent. Click here to find an EquipmentShare rental yard near you.

Where Can I Buy Skid Steer Parts?

Shopping for skid steer parts in-person can be a frustrating process given the sheer number of makes and models on the market — it can be difficult to find the right components for your machine.

The EquipmentShare online parts store takes the hassle out of finding replacement parts for your skid steer. Our online catalog offers a wide variety of OEM and aftermarket skid steer parts for a number of popular manufacturers, including Vermeer, Takeuchi and more.

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