Rubber Skid Steer Tracks VS Skid Steer Tires

Skid steer loaders and compact track loaders (CTL) are the most popular equipment of choice for construction and excavation projects. Skid steers are built to work on tires and tracks - although they can also be outfitted with over-the-tire (OTT) track attachments - while CTLs are rubber-tracked equipment. It can be a bit confusing trying to figure out which of these two powerful workhorses to go with for a particular job operation.

Skid steer loaders are versatile machines and have been available on the market for a much longer time than CTLs. Essentially, CTLs were specially created to enhance the capabilities of a skid steer loader with new added benefits. However, this does not mean that skid steer tires are not a worthy rival to CTL Tracks - they offer a few advantages that a CTL does not.

To make the right choice, it is first important to know the type of terrain you will be working on and the working conditions you will be operating under. Also, determine if your operation is time-sensitive or not, which in this line of work, time is always a concern. Both skid steers and CTLs offer fantastic benefits but each also has their drawbacks. Let’s compare both options and see how they measure up.

  • SKID STEER APPLICATIONS

Rubber tracks are best-suited for applications that require minimal ground disturbance such as landscaping and doing construction work around a property. They are great for uneven muddy, snowy and sandy terrains. They can easily maneuver a variety of harsh ground conditions.

Skid steers are designed for precise steering and are great for making quick turns in tight spaces. Skid steer tires are perfect for gravelly, stony terrains as they can roll over stones without getting damaged like rubber tracks would. They also perform optimally on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete, especially when equipped with solid tires. Rubber tracks tend to also work on these surfaces but they tend to wear out faster when used on these types of ground surfaces.

Essentially, CTLs are great for leveling, excavating and digging. Skid steers offer versatility, with attachment options like grapples, pallet forks and trench loaders. CTL tracks are perfect for maneuvering and navigating muddy or soft soil conditions while skid steer tires work optimally on firm, hard ground surfaces.

  • COSTS (Tracks Vs. Tires)

Skid steers are definitely the most economical solution between these two options, especially in the short run. CTLs cost about 25-35% more than skid steer loaders, with a good chunk of the cost coming from the rubber tracks. Skid steer tires are much cheaper than rubber tracks depending on which brand you purchase.

Keep in mind, however, that rubber tracks tend to have a longer service life than skid steer tires, especially when they are properly used and maintained.

  • MAINTENANCE

Preventative maintenance is crucial for both tracks and skid steer tires and they, more or less, require the same time investment. It is important to check the tire pressure on a skid steer loader regularly while it is also important to track tension and adjust as needed on a CTL.

In terms of costs, skid steer tires require less maintenance than rubber tracks. CTL tracks cost more to maintain. That is, they need a higher level of maintenance to minimize their initial and operational costs. You will spend considerably less replacing worn out or damaged tires than replacing worn out rubber tracks. Thus, skid steer loaders are better suited for long-term use as maintenance costs are much lower. On the other hand, tracks when properly used in similar conditions as skid steer tires, do tend to last hundreds of hours more than skid steer tires. The problem is that it is just more expensive to replace a track system should it for some reason get punctured or damaged in any other way.

  • FLOTATION

Rubber tracks provide enhanced flotation for your equipment, offering a wider ground contact area. Increased surface contact results in a much more even distribution of your equipment’s operational weight and reduces ground pressure, which in turn boosts flotation across terrains like snow, mud and sand. Rubber tracks also offer better stability on ground surfaces and are better for sloped terrains.

Skid steer tires, on the other hand, tend to get stuck in muddy and snowy terrains, especially when compares to tracked equipment. They do not provide the same level of balance and stability that rubber tracks do.

  • TRACTION

Typically, rubber tracks offer more traction on muddy, wet, slippery surfaces. The extra track on the ground and track tread design increases tractive power, which makes them perfect for side hills and sloped terrains. Skid steer tires are more suited for hard, firm ground surfaces, offering great traction on these types of surfaces.

  • OPERATOR COMFORT

Rubber tracks guarantee a more stable, comfortable and smooth ride than skid steer tires over extreme terrains. The wider footprint increases the stability of a CTL, maximizing shock absorption as an operator traverses over difficult terrains. Using rubber tracks also reduces noise and vibration, further adding to operator comfort. A comfortable operator means higher productivity, which translates to an improved bottom line on your projects. Skid steers running on tires, alternatively, offer a much rougher ride.

  • SPEED

For applications that require greater speeds, a skid steer loader is a better option as they move faster than a comparable CTL. For example, if you need to quickly push snow, it’s probably better to use a skid steer than a CTL for such an application. This is because skid steer loaders have a lighter operational weight than their CTL counterparts.

Basically, both skid steer tires and CTL tracks come with many benefits. The most important thing to keep in mind in order to make a well-informed decision between the two is to know your job site conditions and requirements. You should consider if you will be able to maximize the productivity of your CTL track use in order to recoup the associated costs of using a track system. Also consider the option of using OTT tracks with your skid steer tires to further boost the versatility of your skid steer. Be very clear about the specific purposes for which you will be using either option and then make your choice.

Contact one of the experts at Monster Tires if you have further questions about skid steer tire options and CTL or other rubber track solutions for your heavy equipment. We take pride in providing solutions to customers looking to outfit their heavy equipment with the perfect skid steer tires or CTL track systems for their operations. Our prices are extremely affordable and our products are of the highest quality. Call Monster Tires today!

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