A skid steer is a valuable piece of equipment with a wide range of capabilities that allow you to complete your work better and faster. Getting the most out of your skid steer requires proper maintenance. Follow this guide for valuable service tips to keep your skid steer properly maintained and running at its best.
About Skid Steers
A skid steer is a versatile piece of equipment. Its compact size, maneuverability and attachment compatibility make the skid steer an excellent choice for many applications, including construction, manufacturing, landscaping and other material handling tasks.
Performing proper maintenance requires an understanding of how skid steers work. Skid steers are built with either four wheels or two tracks. The engine is typically located in the rear behind the operator’s seat. Skid steers also have two arms situated on either side of the cab, which move the attachment connected to the unit.
Skid Steer Attachments
You can use many different attachments with your skid steer, including forks for moving pallets, buckets for scooping materials, augers for drilling holes, backhoes for digging and numerous other options.
Most attachments connect to the skid steer’s hydraulic system. For some high-powered attachments like brush mulchers and cold planers, you need high-flow hydraulics in your skid steer. Hydraulic systems with a standard flow range from 17 to 24 gallons per minute (gpm), while a range of 30 to 38 gpm is considered high flow on a skid steer. Not every skid steer has a high-flow hydraulic system, so knowing your attachments’ power requirements is key.
How Do You Maintain a Skid Steer?
By sticking to a skid steer maintenance checklist and using your equipment with care, you can extend its life and avoid costly downtime. Follow this checklist for effective skid steer maintenance:
1. Daily Maintenance
Basic, daily checks are essential to keeping tabs on your equipment’s health. Before starting up the skid steer, walk around it to check for signs of wear or damage. A walk-around is also a good opportunity to take stock of the surroundings and plan for any obstructions in your intended path.
Examine the skid steer’s front end, remove any debris from the attachments and ensure the hoses and tubings are secure and leak-free. You must also check the arms and pivot points to ensure they are thoroughly greased — ideally, you should grease your skid steer after each use.
Inspect the tires and tracks and make any necessary pressure or tension adjustments. You’ll also want to hop in the cab and do a quick check of all the safety features, including the display panel, horn, seatbelt and any backup alerts. After that, walk behind the skid steer and open the tailgate to inspect the engine and system components, then check all your fluid levels and refill as needed.
2. Fluid Upkeep
Maintaining the correct fluid levels keeps your skid steer running smoothly. The engine oil, hydraulic oil and coolant should all be maintained according to manufacturer guidelines to prevent heat and wear damage. These fluids should also be changed at regular intervals and kept at a consistent temperature. If you notice excessive fluid loss, you may have a leaky hose or insecure fitting, which should be fixed right away to avoid costly damage.
When you check your fluids, make sure the loader arms are down so all the hydraulic oil flows back into the tank for an accurate reading.
3. Tire and Track Care
One of the most important skid steer maintenance tasks is caring for the tires or tracks, as they naturally experience the most wear and tear over time. If your skid steer has tires, ensure they are properly inflated and at the right pressure levels to improve handling and reduce wear. Of course, tire pressure is only applicable to tires that are not foam filled.
Because skid steer tires are very thick, it is challenging to notice a pressure change with just a visual inspection, so they should be checked regularly with a pressure gauge. Follow your operator’s manual for optimal pressure numbers so that you don’t overinflate or underinflate your tires.
One set of tires (front or rear) may also wear faster than the other depending on how you use the skid steer, so having the tires rotated periodically will help extend their life span.
A skid steer with tracks, also known as a compact track loader (CTL) must have the right amount of track tension. Too little tension results in loose tracks, while too much tension can cause excessive wear and even power loss.
Keeping your skid steer clean also extends its life span. In addition to removing any debris caught on the body, cleaning the windows allows you to get work done more efficiently. Clean windows provide ample visibility and clear sightlines, boosting operator productivity and improving safety while working.
Regularly cleaning out your engine compartment is also crucial, especially if you work in a high-debris environment. Dirt and dust can quickly accumulate on your radiator and other system components, causing your engine to overheat and affecting the electrical connections.
5. Schedule Regular Service Appointments
Regular maintenance appointments are vital to your skid steer’s condition. Professional companies that service skid steers have specialty tools and trained technicians who know what to look for and how to provide the best care for your equipment. With their many resources, they can make fast work of maintenance tasks to save you time and prevent major issues from developing.
Skid steer maintenance costs are relatively low. Over the long run, you will save a significant amount of money by having regular maintenance performed and avoiding costly repairs on your skid steer.
Contact Prime Source Today
Giving your skid steer the care it needs will keep it running strong for the long term. Get in the habit of properly maintaining your equipment and contact Prime Source today for more information about our skid steer services. Our experienced technicians deliver exceptional services at competitive prices, and we go above and beyond to ensure we meet your needs.