Track vs. Wheel Skid Steer – Which to Use

track vs. wheeled skid-steer

A skid-steer loader, also known as a skid steer or skid loader, can be used to perform a wide variety of mechanized tasks at different work sites. These machines can quickly and efficiently dig holes, create ridges, help in landscape gardening and move soil around a construction area.

Skid Steer – Tracks vs. Tires

One of the most important factors to consider while choosing the type of skid loader you need is the terrain it will operate on. Choosing the wrong type of skid loader for a work site could significantly drive up maintenance costs and increase downtime due to avoidable machinery break downs and turf damage.

Skid Steer with Tires

If your worksite is a reasonably even and dry surface, then opting for a wheel skid steer loader is the better choice. When the work surface is hard with level soil, a wheel skid steer will work more efficiently as these surfaces don’t require the extra traction a skid steer equipped with tracks provides.

skid-steer tracks vs. tires


  • Good maneuverability over hard, even surfaces
  • Worn out tires are cheaper to replace than tracks
  • Wheeled skid steers will compact loose soil


  • Compaction is undesirable when the surface is intended for planting purposes
  • Tires wear easily and may require more frequent replacement

Bobby Ford Tractor and Equipment’s Kubota skid steers are the superior choice for construction and landscaping on even ground.

Compact Track Loader

Track-equipped compact loaders are the unrivaled champions when it comes to tackling difficult terrain. These skid steers are so successful in rugged or muddy conditions because the tracks distribute their weight over a larger surface area. This makes them significantly more stable than their wheeled counterparts.

skid-steer vs. track loader

Additionally, skid steers mounted with tracks are more versatile in narrow, tight terrain as well as wet muddy areas.


  • Works well in muddy or rocky areas
  • No compaction effect on topsoil so planting can easily be done after grading
  • Functions efficiently in challenging situations
  • Construction work isn’t interrupted by wet conditions
  • Better aesthetic for resulting work area as track loaders do not leave deep ruts


  • Costlier to purchase and maintain than wheeled skid steers
  • Not ideal for demolition tasks

Kubota track loaders will rise to the challenge in rugged conditions providing optimal grading options for lawns and construction sites.

Track Loader Choice – Steel or Rubber?

Most conventional track loaders come with tracks made of steel or rubber. The choice of track-type should depend on your budget, the topography of the construction surface, and the need for extra traction.

Advantages of Rubber Tracks

  • Gentler on soft ground, dirt, and grass, as they will not tear up the surface as much as steel tracks
  • Significantly cheaper to purchase and replace than steel tracks
  • Better vibration absorption as compared to steel which results in a smoother handling experience
  • Less noisy option for working in areas where noise complaints might be a concern (residential areas)
  • Tracks made from rubber are more speed-friendly than those made of steel

Advantages of Steel Tracks

  • Provides improved flotation and traction in wet or slippery conditions
  • Extra counterweight from steel tracks improve the overall stability while carrying loads
  • Resistance to damage by hard debris like concrete, asphalt or steel shards
  • Extended durability/thread life
  • Adjustable length of steel tracks reduces tension, minimizing the chances of the tracks snapping
  • Optimal functionality in both cold and warm weather conditions

Can You Put Tracks on a Wheeled Skid Steer?

Most times, deciding whether to opt for a skid steer with tracks or tires can be quite challenging as a host of factors have to be considered. The best solution may be to select a vehicle that can be converted into either type depending on your construction or landscaping requirements.

There is a good selection of hybrid skid steer loaders available for construction involving both even and rugged areas. These skid steers have wheels which can be mounted with rubber or steel tracks essentially converting them into functional compact track loaders.

However, the Kubota SVL and Kubota SSV are uniquely designed machines, and we do not recommend putting tracks on the SSV series machines.

How Long Do Skid Steer Tracks Last?

how long do skid-steer tracks last?

Due to the nature of the terrains they operate, compact loader tracks withstand an enormous amount of pressure in the course of their life spans. Based on production quality, rubber compact loader tracks will last between 1200 to 1600 cumulative work hours. Tracks made of steel usually last at least two and half times longer than their rubber counterparts. When handled by an experienced operator, skid steer tracks will last a few extra hundred hours regardless of type.

Trust Bobby Ford with All Your Machinery Needs

At Bobby Ford Tractor and Equipment, we are dedicated to providing all customers with equipment and services of the highest standards. Our expert staff is on hand to offer professional advice to enable you to select the best equipment for your unique application.

For more information about Bobby Ford, your authorized Kubota Dealer in the Greater Houston Area, please contact us online today, or stop by our showroom in Angleton to test drive your new purchase!

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The content on this site reflects my own opinions and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of my employer or Kubota Tractor Corporation.


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