Guide to Replacing Skid Steer Tracks

Your fleet’s skid steers rely on high-quality rubber tracks for proper movement. Their rubber material allows the equipment to navigate tough terrain while placing minimal pressure on the surface.

Over time, these tracks wear down and reduce machine efficiency. Fortunately, recognizing signs of degradation early can help you understand when to replace the tracks and avoid downtime. The right replacement techniques ensure your machinery functions correctly.

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How Long Do Skid Steer Tracks Last?

Skid steer tracks usually last between 1,200 and 1,500 hours. Understanding their average life span can help you prepare for replacements more effectively. However, your skid steer’s tracks’ exact longevity depends on specific factors, such as:

  • Operator skill: An operator’s skill and experience level affects your skid steer’s condition, and navigating rough terrain safely requires more knowledge and skill. The more expertise you have, the less likely you are to damage the machine during use. For instance, drivers should spin as little as possible, hit obstacles head-on and avoid side slopes to prevent excessive wear.
  • Typical area conditions: Your job sites’ surfaces also significantly impact your skid steer tracks’ life span. Harder surfaces put more pressure on the rubber, causing pieces to wear down quickly. Similarly, rocky or uneven areas, such as locations with many tree roots, are harsher on tracks. If your fleet regularly works in rough environments, your equipment might need more maintenance. Surfaces with sand or soft soil are more accommodating to rubber tracks, enabling them to last longer.
  • Maintenance levels: Maintenance techniques and care frequency influence your machinery’s condition. Regular cleaning and inspections can help you identify problems sooner. Beyond extending your equipment’s life span, following maintenance guidelines can help your skid steer perform more efficiently. If you neglect maintenance recommendations, your rubber tracks might degrade more quickly.

Signs You Need to Replace Skid Steer Tracks

Properly functioning skid steer tracks are essential for safe machinery use. Tracks should protect surfaces and provide optimal traction for conditions like snow and rain. If you continue using rubber tracks beyond their normal life span, they are more likely to work inefficiently, putting operators at risk.

It’s crucial to recognize when your rubber tracks need replacements. Your equipment should provide several signals indicating your tracks have reached the end of their life and require restorations to work safely.

Consider these common signs that your equipment needs track replacements:

External Track Damage

Exterior damage is one of the most identifiable signs of wear. Constant exposure to rocky terrain makes them susceptible to obvious damage. Conditions like driving over curbs or walls can place extra stress on the rubber. Your tracks might have cracks, missing components, exposed cords or other flaws indicating they are no longer fit for regular use. You might also notice excessive dryness when equipment experiences too much sun. These signs can help you predict track failure, making it crucial to find replacements.

Worn Sprockets

Sprockets are essential for skid steer and CTL functioning. Because motors power them, they can break down more quickly than other equipment components. Signs of worn-out sprockets include broken teeth, derailing or unevenness during use. Replacing sprockets as soon as possible is crucial because broken pieces can lead to slips or unsafe driving conditions.

Irregular Tread Depth

Your rubber tracks’ tread depth also signifies their condition. They should display consistent tread depth across surfaces, creating even traction and stable surfaces. Flattened tread can create unstable operating conditions, so it’s important to recognize signs of wear. You can measure tread depth after certain periods to gauge its status. For instance, if your tread depth was initially 1 inch and a measurement reads 5/8 of an inch, you’ve used almost half of the track’s life span.

Unsafe Tension

Proper track tension levels keep your skid steers and CTLs functioning effectively. Rubber tracks naturally stretch over time, making checking tension at regular intervals essential. If you notice tracks are too tight, they might place extra stress on the machine and tear through the rubber. Low or sagging tension might cause tracks to derail entirely. Don’t tighten or loosen tracks if you see improper tension — replace them instead.

Replacement Checklist for Skid Steer Tracks

If you identify signs of wear on your skid steer tracks, replacing them is crucial. All tracks need replacement at some point, so it’s best to prepare by selecting which tracks you’ll want to use.

If you are satisfied with your skid steer’s performance, you can select the same brand and type of tracks. Replacements are also an opportunity to choose a new option if you want more durable tracks. For instance, you might have used general-duty tracks before but think heavy-duty ones would suit an upcoming project more closely. You must find rubber tracks that match your equipment model.

To replace skid steer or CTL tracks, you’ll need:

  • Support stands
  • Lifts and jacks
  • Safety gear like boots, gloves and glasses
  • Specialized removal tools

How to Remove and Replace Skid Steer Tracks

Replace the tracks in an open area with plenty of room and a flat surface. The basic steps for removal are:

  1. Release the track tension: Loosen the grease fitting with a wrench. Push in the idler frame and remove the grease from its position.
  2. Raise the equipment: Use lifts and jacks to suspend your machinery. Heavy-duty jacks provide the most protection for the equipment while in the air.
  3. Remove the current track: Pull the current track off the front idler, then the sprocket. Complete this step with a partner to ensure your safety.
  4. Install the new track: Place the replacement track on the rear idler and sprocket, then the front idler. Ensure they align with the right grooves.
  5. Align the tracks: Tighten the grease fitting to secure the new track. Use grease to get the new track to the correct tension levels.
  6. Test the equipment: Lower your equipment to the ground, then drive it forward and backward. Ensure the tracks function properly before using the machine in a project.

Contact H.O. Penn for Skid Steer Track Replacement

H.O. Penn has provided businesses with fleet solutions since 1923. If you need assistance with replacing skid steer tracks, choose our services. As a full-service Cat® dealer, we carry a wide range of new, used and rental equipment. Our team can help you find the replacement parts to keep your machinery operating at its best.

Contact H.O. Penn today to get started.

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