Small Wheel Loader Enhancements that Are Bringing the Heat this Snow and Ice Season

Sherrie Williams | Industry Trade Show and Association Manager

Small wheel loaders have been widely used in the snow and ice industry for many years. Advanced wheel loaders are being engineered with features and enhancements, specifically with snow and ice management applications in mind. Below, we have highlighted some of the most useful features to consider as you spec machines for purchase or rental this season, as well as seasons to come.

Snow Clearing — Power Train Mode

Some modern front loaders are designed with four power train modes — one of these being ice mode. When the machine is set to this mode, it will limit the amount of torque sent to the wheels, regardless of the throttle position, to prevent the wheels from spinning on icy ground. This mode also changes how the machine slows down when switching between forward and reverse directions in order to maintain good traction with the ground. In certain snow clearing applications, this intelligent engineering of the power train modes can allow operators to run on general construction tires in snow without the need to add expensive tire chains.

Wheel Loader Features for Operator Safety and Comfort

Many small wheel loader enhancements have been designed to improve operator safety, as well as comfort, in wintry conditions. Many of these features are often offered as part of the standard machine package, yet some are optional. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to discuss these configurations with your dealer.  We sat down with Cat® small wheel loader expert Scott Britton who shared some of the unique machine features that help keep your employees and customers safe, increase productivity and minimize downtime.

  • Large, open pattern heavy grip steps – Believe it or not, most accidents happen getting on and off the machines. So it’s important to look for wheel loaders equipped with steps designed to allow you to kick the snow and ice off of your boots as you enter the cab. A helpful tip: look for steps with equal spacing from the ground to the cab, which is especially important for early morning and late-night cab entry and exit.
  • Full coverage fenders – Keep your front loader clean with a full coverage fender that keeps tire spray off the windshield and steps. Additionally, don’t forget our snow scraper that helps combat dirt buildup on the fender.
  • Cold start package – Additional batteries are available for starting your small wheel loader in freezing temperatures. Having extra batteries on hand will give you peace of mind, especially as temperatures begin to drop. The engine block heater is conveniently located by the steps to ensure that you do not forget to unplug the cord at the back.
  • Heated and powered exterior mirrors – Heated exterior mirrors are especially useful in the winter months to maintain good visibility. Simply press a button from within the cab, and the heating element will melt away any snow or ice obstructing your view.
  • Underhood LED lights – With fewer daylight hours in the winter, your work often begins and/or ends when it’s dark outside. These underhood LED lights are positioned to focus on important check points, and will automatically turn on when the machine service door and DEF tank lid are opened. This allows you and/or the operator to perform daily maintenance checks or machine servicing with clear visibility when natural lighting is low.
  • Exterior LED lights – Whether you’re roading or working, advanced exterior LED lights are designed to save you time while keeping you safe. Unlike typical LED lights, they help melt snow which optimizes your visibility.
  • Bluetooth capable radio – With long hours spent in the cab during snow clearing jobs, Bluetooth capabilities allow you to take calls and run your business without having to take your hands off the controls.
  • Fully integrated dual radar object detection system – This system works in conjunction with the machine’s rearview camera, and provides varying signals based on the distance between the machine and object(s). This is especially useful when clearing areas where traffic flow is uncontrolled, such as parking lots. It will signal the operator when cars enter and leave various spots.

From a fleet management standpoint, an additional feature to look for is a fully integrated tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This system alerts the operator of low tire pressure immediately so they can respond fast — resulting in reduced tire wear, reduced fuel burn and no unexpected reduction in machine stability.

Additionally, an integrated autolube system will ensure that the machine stays greased and the pins and bushes are regularly purged of salt and snow debris. With a run time of 200-250 hours on a full tank, this system provides a huge reduction in daily and weekly maintenance and keeps your operators out of the weather.

As you can see, there are several small wheel loader advancements to consider when spec’ing these machines to your application needs. To learn more about Cat small wheel loaders and the latest machine features that can help your business, visit or contact your local Cat dealer.

On The Level: Snow and Ice

On The Level: Snow and Ice

Sherrie Williams

Sherrie Williams

Industry Trade Show and Association Manager

As a product application specialist, Sherrie Williams has worked to ensure customer voices are represented in the design and product requirements of next generation Backhoe Loaders. She has also spent time coordinating Caterpillar tradeshows and sponsorships, and providing product training assistance to dealers and sales representatives.