A Beginner’s Guide to Skid Steer Loaders

A Beginner’s Guide to Skid Steer Loaders

Skid steer loaders are ideal for farms, construction sites and industrial plants. They are compact, flexible and maneuverable and versatile. These wheeled or tracked machines with hydraulic arms are the right choice for several applications, including digging, demolition, grading, levelling, clearing lots, and snow removal. If you want to buy one, here’s a complete guide to help you understand the essential aspects of this compact equipment and make an informed decision.

Choosing the Right Skid Steer Loader


The scope of your task, the size of the job site, and the spaces you have to fit through to get the work done will determine the size of the skid steer you need. In addition, you should consider the required horsepower and rated operating capacity (ROC) or the lift capacity, which is typically half the tipping load. ROCs range from 700 pounds to over 3,000 pounds and are available in the following horsepower and frame types:

Small Frame

With less than 50 horsepower and a lifting capacity of around 700 pounds, these skid steers are perfect for smaller projects such as minor interior demolition, landscaping, and jobs in tight spaces. They are easy to maneuver and can fit through a walkthrough backyard gate.

Medium Frame

These skid steers have around 50 to 70 horsepower, an operating weight of about 6,000 pounds, and a ROC of 1,300 to 1,900 pounds. They are primarily used in the construction industry.

Large Frame

With 70 horsepower and over 2,200 pounds ROC, these skid steer loaders are ideal for building roads, moving significant quantities of bricks or gravel, and excavating a large job site.


Consider the terrain and skid steer attachments required when deciding between a wheeled or tracked compact loader. Choose wheeled ones for hard, levelled surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and landscaped grounds. Tracked skid steers offer high performance on uneven, rough, and muddy terrains. They can move quickly over sand, loose gravel, snow, and slopes.

Radial and Vertical Lift Loader Arms

Most skid steer models feature a vertical or radial lift loader arm. Although they look and function similarly, there are minor differences.

  • Radial Lift – has a loader linkage and a simpler design. It offers great forward reach.
  • Vertical Lift – has a more complex loader linkage and delivers more reach at max height without disrupting the performance.

Skid Steer Attachment Compatibility

Many compact loader attachments are available for multiple applications. Using the right one is essential to achieve the desired outcome. Every accessory may not work well with all skid steer models. Ensure they fit well into the machine’s arm to avoid mishaps and delays in the project. A high-flow hydraulic system provides enhanced flow to the attachment than a standard one.

  • Typically, a smaller machine has a standard hydraulic system. It can support commonly used attachments, including skid steer forks, buckets, blades, breakers, and grapples.
  • Medium-sized ones are compatible with accessories that require more horsepower, such as augers.
  • Larger compact equipment delivers the best results with heavy-duty attachments, such as snow blowers and cold planers.

Skid Steer Loader Parts

Many new technology and optional features are available to meet the demands of skid steer users. These include rear cameras, LED sidelights, telematics, auto-reversing fans, auto ride control, heated cloth air seats, and cushioned cylinders.

6 Things to Consider When Operating Skid Steers


Perform a visual inspection before operating the machine to check fluid levels, tires or tracks, steering functions, hydraulics, and components and identify fluid leaks.

Enter the Machine

Getting in and out of the cab in a skid steer can be difficult because of the compact design. Some models feature front entry, while others require entering from the side.

Start the Engine

Start the machine’s engine and listen for unusual sounds. Look for the odd-coloured exhaust to identify any internal engine problems. It helps to understand that control configurations vary according to the manufacturer and model. Read the manual carefully to understand the controls.

Learn the Boom and Bucket Controls

Test opening and closing the bucket and raising and lowering the boom to understand how they work to avoid problems when driving the machine.

Operate the Skid Steer

Practice maneuvering the compact equipment. Ensure the boom is not lifted too high off the ground to avoid obstructing your view. Be careful when lifting the bucket because it changes the centre of gravity and increases the chances of the machine tipping over.

Additional Safety Measures

Although skid steers are smaller than other machines on job sites like dozers or large excavators, they require appropriate training to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. They are prone to tipping or rolling over due to imbalance or instability, often resulting in severe injuries to the bystanders and operator. In addition, carrying loads too high, overloading, operating on slopes, uneven or rough surfaces, using incompatible attachments, or driving too fast may lead to mishaps. In addition, keep the following in mind when carrying loads:

  • Consider distributing the weight evenly on the attachment.
  • Secure unstable loads to ensure they do not move or fall.
  • Keep them low to the ground.
  • Move slowly and carefully, especially when making turns, to maintain control.
  • Use more caution when operating on uneven or hilly terrains.
  • Take additional care to prevent crushing accidents between the machine’s frame and lift arm, the attachment and the frame, the cab and the arm, and under the accessory.

We Offer the Best Quality Skid Steer Attachments

Best Quality Skid Steer Attachments

Tag Equipment features an extensive range of skid steer attachments, tires, rubber tracks, and parts. We provide fairly priced, high-grade accessories to ensure maximum satisfaction. We will listen to your requirements and help you choose the most compatible product that fits your needs and applications.

Our collection includes skid steer brooms, pallet forks, boom poles, buckets and grapples, cold planers, hydraulic hammers, landscape rakes, snow pushers, and more.

We carry major skid steer attachment brands such as HLA Attachments, Alitec, Bradco, Baumalight, Wallenstein, DemaRock, and Paladin.

For more information about skid steers and their parts and accessories, please call us at 416-716-5850 or fill out our online contact form.

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