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When it comes to flexible and versatile construction equipment, few machines can compare with skid steer loaders. They have wheels that are set close together and it can pivot around them, allowing them to maneuver in tight spaces. While many people refer to this type of construction machine as a "Bobcat," that is actually the brand name of only one skid steer manufacturer. There are, in fact, many companies that make skid loaders, and most can be outfitted with a huge variety of attachments, allowing them to take on myriad jobs. Use this buying guide to find the machine that's right for your business and to get a basic idea of how much it costs.
Skid Steer Loader Sizes and Uses
Depending on the size of a skid loader, it can be appropriate for a wide range of applications. Machines can generally be divided into the following frame sizes and rated operating capacities (ROC):
- Small-frame: Small frame skid steer loaders typically have a capacity of up to 1,750 pounds. They can take on less demanding jobs such as landscaping, indoor demolition, building/site development, residential construction, and snow removal.
- Medium frame: Medium size skid steer loaders are able to handle loads of around 1,700 to 2,200 pounds. These skid steers are the most popular because they are powerful and can be fitted with many different attachments, yet still have much better maneuverability than bigger construction machines. Mid-size skid steers can be employed for numerous applications at job and construction sites such as transporting materials and loading materials into trucks.
- Large frame: Skid steers with a capacity of over 2,200 pounds are generally considered heavy-duty or heavy lift skid steer loaders. The impressive horsepower and hydraulic flow of heavy-duty skid steers allows them to handle the most demanding construction jobs such as excavating, road building, and dozing.
Other Skid Steer Purchasing Factors to Consider
In addition to the ROC of a skid steer loader, there are a number of other factors to keep in mind when searching for a machine that fits your needs, including:
- Height and width: The physical size of a skid steer loader should be one of your first considerations. Make sure that the machine's height and width do not exceed any of the gates and other spaces it will need to fit through. Typical sizes include around 3 feet to six feet wide and between five and seven feet high.
- Dumping height: The height to which a skid steer loader can lift a load, measured as the hinge-pin height, is another important consideration. Small machines might have a dumping height of around eight feet, while heavy-duty skid steers often have a reach of over 10 feet.
- Operating environment: Depending on where a skid steer loader will be operated, it needs to be outfitted with the correct tires. Air filled tires provide a nice ride on rough surfaces, but are prone to flats. Foam pneumatic tires, on the other hand, do not go flat, but can be quite pricey. Another choice for flat-free tires are those made from solid rubber, but don't expect a smooth ride on them.
Skid Steer Loader Average Costs Sample
Bear in mind that prices can vary significantly based on regional variances and individual vendor quotes. The following skid steer prices should give you a general idea of how much your initial investment will cost.
- The lowest-capacity skid steer loaders can handle around 650-750 pounds and cost roughly $10,000-$15,000.
- A machine with a capacity of around 1,000-1,500 pounds might cost approximately $15,000-$20,000.
- Skid steer loaders with capacities ranging from around 1,500 to 2,000 pounds might cost around $20,000 to $30,000.
- Skid steers with 2,200-3,000+ pound capacities cost about $30,000 to $50,000.
- John Deere skid steer loaders with a 2,000 pound ROC might cost around $25,000 to $30,000. John Deere skid loaders with a posthole digger, forks, and a bucket cost roughly $22,000 to $26,000.
- A JCB skid steer with attachments might cost $40,000 to $45,000.
- A skid loader with a capacity of around 2,500 pounds and an enclosed cab might cost approximately $30,000 to $35,000.
- Adding attachments to a skid steer loader will raise its cost. Some popular skid steer attachments include:
- Grapple rake: $2,500-$3,000
- Stump grapple bucket: $1,000-$1,500
- Extractor: $3,000-$5,000
- Pavement saw: $10,000-$20,000
- Concrete breaker: $5,000-$10,000
- Snow blower: $5,000-$10,000
- Brush cutter: $3,000-$5,000
- Rotating grapple: $3,000-$5,000