How a Track Loader Differs from a Skid Steer

September 2, 2020 8:18 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The skid steer loader has been a fixture at construction sites for decades now, and continues to be the highest-selling machine in the industry. Of course, over time, there have been plenty of evolutions in skid steer design, and one example of this is the compact track loader.

The track loader is essentially a more specialized type of skid steer—it is designed to take on tasks similar to what a skid steer would handle, but with some operational differences. While the most obvious difference between the two types of materials is that the compact loader uses tracks instead of tires, there are plenty of other differences to be aware of as well.

Let’s take a closer look at the various track loader uses in Texas and how they differ from a standard skid steer.

Basic functions

Both skid steers and track loaders are known for being easy to maneuver and for having a very small turning radius. Track loaders are a bit heavier, which can make them a little tougher to transport, but they provide much greater comfort to the person operating the machinery, as they work smoother and thus provide a more forgiving ride. Track loaders also do not tear up the ground as much, which helps to reduce cleanup time at work sites.

Area of operation

Skid steers and track loaders are most effective in different areas of operation. Skid steers, for example, tend to be used on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete, especially if they have hard tires. Though track loaders can be used on those surfaces as well, harder ground can be tough on the tracks and result in faster wear and tear.

Instead, track loaders are most frequently brought in to be used in areas that would present a skid steer with some challenges, such as job sites that are muddy, sandy, uneven or snowy. Tracks operate better than wheels on these types of surfaces, as they provide extra stability. This results in better productivity, as there aren’t concerns about the machinery tipping over or losing control.


Costs of operation and ownership will vary for skid steers and track loaders. They require pretty much the same level of preventative maintenance, so any difference in maintenance cost will be negligible. When looking at upfront costs, you can expect to pay less for a skid steer, and the tracks for the track loader will generally cost more than tires for a skid steer.

However, over a longer period of ownership, track loaders tend to be more economical. The tracks last a longer period of time than tires (up to three or four times as long), and track loaders are capable of working even in rough conditions, which means fewer downtime costs for your company.

If you’re in need of equipment for your construction company and having a difficult time choosing between these two types of equipment, consider the above factors as you make your choice. If you’re not sure you’re ready to make an equipment purchase, contact V-Bar Equipment Company for more information about our track loader rental service in Texas.

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