If you have a skid steer, you know just how valuable it is to your fleet and your job. To keep your skid loader working at peak performance, you should use a regular maintenance procedure and stop major problems before they start.
Why Is Skid Steer Maintenance Important?
Skid steers are versatile machines, and they often end up handling multiple jobs on a worksite. While these loaders are designed for durability, they still experience wear after hours of hard work. Preventative maintenance can spot signs of wear before they become major performance issues that lead to high-cost repairs.
In addition to early sightings of potential issues, maintenance processes can keep your skid steer running as efficiently as possible. Practices like lubrication, fluid checks and cleaning reduce friction and prevent clogging that can slow down your machine and reduce its output.
Whether you work in construction, agriculture or landscaping, you want your skid steer to work well and help you meet your goals. Maintenance is the best way to stay productive, reduce machine downtime and extend the overall lifespan of your loader. If you create a schedule and keep up with it, you can use the same skid steer for years.
It’s important to understand the difference between the compact track loader and skid steer pictured above. While skid steers have four tires, compact track loaders use dense rubber tracks. These machines offer similar capabilities, but skid steers work best on harder, more even terrain.
The Skid Steer Maintenance Checklist
A maintenance checklist can help you create a defined process for examining your machine. There are several components to a skid steer that you should assess as you use it. Look out for the following areas:
Skid steers require various fluids to run smoothly, and keeping them at the appropriate levels will optimize performance. Fluids like engine oil and hydraulic oil reduce friction between moving parts to minimize wear and reduce heat. Coolant is also an essential fluid for controlling operating temperature.
Changing these fluids regularly will ensure they’re doing their jobs. During your maintenance checks, you should also look for any signs of leaking fluid surrounding the machine. You may also notice your fluid levels decrease quickly. These signs may indicate the need for a repair.
Since your skid steer’s tires roll over rugged terrain and support a heavy metal frame, they’re bound to experience wear. Your maintenance checks should make sure your tires have the right pressure levels and inflation to improve handling and limit wear. You can use a pressure gauge to check these levels.
You may have foam-filled tires on your skid steer to add traction and keep more consistent pressure. While checking the pressure may not be a major need for you, it’s still vital to look for signs of wear. If your tires show any signs of cracking, damaged treads or leaking, it’s time to replace them with a new set.
3. Attachment Parts
Attachment components like cylinders, hoses, pins and bushings can cause significant performance issues if they’re loose or improperly attached. Pay close attention to these areas during maintenance inspections to confirm they’re secure and prepared for use.
In general, you’ll want to look for cracks and other signs of damage across your skid steer’s body and components. Weld sites are common areas for wear to begin, so keep a close eye on these spots. Even if small cracks or dents don’t cause functional problems right away, these weak areas can lead to bigger problems down the line.
Skid steers have various moving parts, like cylinders, lifting arms and pivot pins. Lubricating these pieces regularly can reduce friction that causes wear.
While you need all your skid steer’s parts to be in condition, cleanliness is another essential maintenance aspect. These machines often work in dust and dirt that can accumulate in the radiator, filters and other components. This accumulation can cause overheating and weaken electrical connections.
Cleaning is a valuable aspect of maintenance, and it’s also helpful for your operator. Just as parts accumulate dirt, so do cab windows. Cleaning these can help operators see clearly, allowing them to work efficiently and operate safely on the job site.
Skid Steer Maintenance Tips
Apply these tips to your maintenance practices to keep your skid steer in great shape.
1. Make Time for Daily Maintenance
While you don’t need to have an in-depth maintenance process every day, practicing daily maintenance can be beneficial. Doing a quick assessment of your skid steer before and after you use it can help you determine if it needs fluid changes, additional lubrication, cleaning and more before its next use.
2. Look at the Manual
Your skid steer manufacturer provides all the valuable advice you need for machine care in the operator’s manual. If you’re unsure what your maintenance schedule should be or don’t know how to change your fluids, you can find what you need in the manual. Refer to this information when you’re building your maintenance plan to give your skid steer the best care possible.
3. Use Your Skid Steer Correctly
While using your skid steer properly isn’t part of your maintenance process, it can make your maintenance steps easier. Mishandling your skid steer can excel wear, reduce its lifespan and increase repair needs. Make sure you:
- Use radial-lift and vertical-lift skid steers for the appropriate jobs.
- Pick the right-sized attachment for your skid steer’s horsepower and hydraulics.
- Operate your loader according to capacity specifications.
You can find operating requirements in your manual if you’re unsure.
4. Create a Maintenance Schedule
Your daily maintenance processes will supplement your regular maintenance schedule. For these service appointments, you’ll want to take your skid steer to a dealer or maintenance professional to give it a thorough examination. These experts have specialized tools and knowledge to spot problems you might miss. Machines often come with maintenance recommendations after a specified number of working hours.
Count on H.O. Penn for Skid Steer Services
At H.O. Penn, we want your skid steer running at its best. With our service offerings, you can ensure your skid steer is always ready to work hard. Whether you need help with your Cat® skid steer maintenance schedule, or you need onsite repairs, you can count on us at any of our six convenient H.O. Penn locations in Holtsville, Bronx, Newington, Poughkeepsie, Bloomingburg and Medford. Request our services or get in touch with us today.