Skid Steer or
Compact Wheel Loader?





Skid steers and compact wheel loaders are both popular choices for landscapers — but which machine is the right choice for your business? Start by asking yourself these five questions:


How big is your working space?

A good first step is to identify your space dimensions and compare machine specs. Do you work primarily in tight spaces, like downtown areas in large cities? Or are most of your jobs in open spaces for residential or commercial developments or landscape supply yards?

If you can’t fit a compact wheel loader in your working space, then look at skid steer models to find the best fit. Here’s something else to keep in mind: A compact wheel loader requires a three-point turn to turn around, while a skid steer can turn on its own center.


What kind of work do you do?

The next factor to consider is what you do with your equipment. A skid steer loader may give you more versatility across a wide variety of landscaping tasks. More power and control result in better performance with more complex attachments, whether that’s an auger, a power box rake or Smart Attachments.

On the other hand, a compact wheel loader offers higher carrying capacity and higher travel speed than a skid steer (23 mph vs. 11 mph). If you need to lift or transport larger loads like trees and heavy palletized material, or road the machine frequently within a development or between parking lots, then a compact wheel loader may be a better choice.

If ground disturbance is an issue, remember this: A skid steer drags the tires when turning, so it can potentially tear up the ground. A compact wheel loader articulates less for less chance of damage.


What materials are you handling?

Materials matter, too. You’ll notice that bucket shapes for skid steer and compact wheel loaders are different — that’s because they’re optimized for each machine’s capability. Compact wheel loaders can handle bigger buckets, increasing your load-carrying capacity by up to 70%.


How high do you need to load?

Another factor to keep in mind is lift height. If you primarily work at ground level, doing soil prep, trenching or using a power box rake, a skid steer might be a good fit. But if you frequently load or unload pallets, place irrigation pipes or load haul trucks with dirt or snow during the winter, consider a compact wheel loader. Its higher seating position gives you a different perspective of the job site than the enclosed cab of a skid steer.


What are your total cost of ownership goals?

Cost of ownership is always a consideration when selecting equipment — and the good news is that maintenance costs for these two machines are about the same. Cat® skid steer and compact wheel loaders run the same engines and have the same oil change intervals. Easy service access, long-life coolant and hydraulic oil, and extended maintenance intervals all help keep your ownership costs low.


Here’s one more step to take as you make your skid steer versus compact wheel loader decision: Get in touch with your local Cat dealer to request a demo of both machines. Often, the best way to make a final decision is to see the equipment in action and get your remaining questions answered by an expert.



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