How to Choose: Compact Wheel Loader vs. Skid Steer

5 November 2019

As your small construction business grows, you face major decisions about expanding your fleet. The skid steer may be meeting your needs now, but adding a compact wheel loader may improve your ability to take on more jobs. How do you know when it’s time to make the move to a compact wheel loader? Here are three situations that might tell you the answer:

1. You want to improve operating costs.

Compact wheel loaders can save you money due to both fuel efficiency and durability. With smaller engines and deep system integration, they use less fuel than larger wheel loaders and some skid steers while reducing emissions.

You also save on the cost of replacing tires. The larger the skid steer loader, the higher the risk that the tires will wear out prematurely due to the weight of the machine and constant skidding. Because compact wheel loaders turn instead of skid and have articulated front-end steering, they’re easier on tires—and on your bottom line.

2. You need larger capabilities.

A skid steer loader may be too small for some jobs where a full-sized wheel loader will be too big. With a compact wheel loader, you’ll get a typical range of bucket capacity from .9 cubic yards to 1.7 cubic yards and dump heights that usually range anywhere from 7 feet up to 9 feet, increasing your capabilities. You’ll also get better reach with a compact wheel loader vs. skid steer—beneficial for loading trucks and stacking materials.

Because of the body design, the compact wheel loader sits a little higher, improving operator visibility when using attachments or dumping. Visibility is also better to the side and behind than it is with skid steers.

A Cat wheel loader can be made even more versatile by pairing it with Caterpillar's broad range of work tools.

3. You’re working on larger sites.

Larger projects mean larger sites—and that means more traveling. Skid steers travel at a speed of 11 to 17 km per hour, using valuable time and power. Compact wheel loaders travel at a speed of 16 to 32 km per hour, allowing you to get from one place to another faster.

Spending more time in the cab also means paying more attention to operator comfort. Compact wheel loaders are ergonomically designed for the maximum comfort and increased productivity.

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