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Skid Steer Loaders Shopping Guide
Skid steer's are vehicles that angle the front wheels to change direction, instead of turning in the way a car would. One set of wheels brakes while the other set brakes in order to turn. This allows for a precise turning radius that is useful for small, confined spaces like warehouses. Skid steers can turn on a dime and are able to complete a turn within the overall length of the vehicle.
When you need a compact, maneuverable and flexible machine for landscaping, manufacturing, construction, recycling and other projects, a skid steer loader is generally the first piece of equipment to turn to. The loaders are built on a set of four wheels placed in close proximity to each other, making the machines stable and flexible. There is typically an engine in the rear and two arms that run along the sides of the cab and connect with an attachment. Attachments can come in many forms and typically include a scooping bucket, forks for moving, a renovation drill and other tools.
The term "Bobcat" is often used to refer to the entire class of skid steers. While any dealer is going to understand what this means, using the generic term will help make you look like a better informed buyer. It also makes it very clear that you're looking for the best value, and not necessarily a specific brand name.
Skid Steer Purchasing BasicsWhen purchasing a skid steer, there are three considerations that can affect the model you end up buying -- size, dumping height and lift capacity.
- Size: Larger skid steer loaders have the ability to move heavier loads, but they are also more difficult to manage in small spaces. If you can't get your vehicle through the gates, it's not going to help you much in your projects. A typical skid steer ranges in width from three feet to six feet or more. The height is usually between six to seven feet. Know your requirements before buying.
- Dumping Height: The dumping height affects how high the loader can lift. This is useful for ensuring that your machine can lift items high enough for your trucks and pallets. The height to hinge pin is typically how these machines are measured.
- Lifting Capacity: Lifting capacity is another name for operating capacity. The more a machine can lift, the larger it will be. In most cases, you can compromise a bit on lifting capacity for a more portable machine that get into smaller spaces. Weigh your needs versus the different machines carefully to ensure you make the right choice.
Look for an option that has a mix of comfort, visibility and maintenance. A comfortable vehicle makes long jobs more tolerable, vision can help to speed up the work and make it safer. Also, look for a vehicle that is easy to maintain and has readily available parts.
Air-filled, foam-filled and solid rubber tires are the three main types of tires available. Air-filled tires are more vulnerable to puncturing, but they offer a good mix between affordability and smooth operation. Foam-filled tires won't get flats, but they are expensive and can cost up to $400 per tire. They are also heavier, which can put added strain on the transmission. Solid rubber tires are thin and never go flat, but they do offer a bumpier rides than the alternatives.
An alternative to a skid steer is a compact truck loader. These machines use a set of treads with skid steer mounted on top. The weight is distributed over a large surface, so they tend to create less damage to the landscaping.
Skid Steer Loader Tools & Attachments
A skid steer loader is a very versatile machine that can be used in a variety of situations. The most basic attachment is the bucket,which can be used to move, pickup and carry loose gravel, soil, mulch and other materials.
Several other attachments are available, including:
- Pallet Forks: These attachments are used in place of a forklift.
- Hydraulic Hammers: These powerful hammers can break up rock or concrete.
- Buckets: Multi-purpose and grapple buckets are used to grab materials or clamp down on items.
- Augers: Drills that allow you to quickly create holes.
- Brooms: Powerful brooms make site cleanup easier.
- Cold Planers and Blades: Useful for scraping, leveling and pushing.
There are several other attachments such as trenchers, snow blowers, backhoes, stump grinders, rototillers and mowers. Many companies offer as many as 20 to 50 different attachments. Start with the most critical attachments, and gradually add to your inventory as you determine your needs. Check the attachments specifications to ensure you know how to attach it properly. Not all attachments work in the same way.
Skid Steer Pricing
In general, the prices for skid steers are fairly well standardized across the industry. Expect to pay based on the size and operating capacity. Here are some general guidelines to give you an idea of what to expect:
- 1350 lb. capacity or less: $17,000 to $20,000
- 1600 lb. capacity: $18,000 to $22,000
- 2000 lb. capacity: $22,000 to $28,000
- 2200 lb. capacity and over: $33,000 to $55,000 or more
See what MerchantHunter.com customers say they paid for their skid steer loaders. The actual price you will pay for a skid steer depends on the brand, size, and reliability of the machine. More expensive machines generally last longer and while they cost a little more, they generally pay for themselves over the lifetime of the vehicle in reduced maintenance costs.
Attachment prices generally run between $700 to $9100 depending on what you need:
- Basic Buckets: $700 to $1200
- Specialty Buckets: $3,000 to $4,200
- Low-end Attachments: $700 to $2400
- Trenchers, Rakers, Sweepers, and Mowers: $1200 to $9100
New or Used
Choosing whether to buy new or used depends on how you plan to use the machines. You can save a few thousand dollars by buying used, but it's not worthwhile for companies that use these machines full-time. Used machines have a shorter lifespan, and the money you save usually doesn't justify the cost.,
Skid Steer Buying Tips
The best advice for buying a new skid steer is to get into the vehicle and use it. Many sellers will bring demo models for you to try out. This can help you make the best decision, and give you a feel for how the machine operates. Make sure you know what extras you need before talking with the dealer. Otherwise, you could very well walk away with a lot of attachments you don't need because they were offered as part of a package. Rent attachments that you're not sure you need, and be careful about the types of attachments you purchase in the beginning. You can also buy more attachments at a later date. It's better to stick to the ones you know you will use repeatedly.