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Selecting the Best Used Skid Steer For Your Needs

Matt at Centex Excavation
Author: MattPublished: February 7, 2023 Updated: April 10, 2023 • Filed Under: Equipment and Machinery

Are you in the market for a used skid steer? With their versatility and power, it’s no wonder why skid steers have become an essential tool for many industries. But when buying a used machine, there are certain steps to ensure you get the best value for your money. From inspecting the machine thoroughly to doing a professional inspection, here are some tips on how to find the best used skid steer for your project.

Having a skid steer on your job site will help you get the job done at super human speed opposed to manual labor.

Understand your needs and budget.

Before looking at used skid steers, you really need to ask yourself, what do you plan on using it for? There are plenty of skid steers on the market, with different types, models, and attachments. However, you don’t want to pick up a skid steer just because it’s a good deal if it’s not meeting your needs.

For example, if you’re a landscaper, you might want a tracked skid steer with a brand-new bucket. Why? Well, you don’t want to tear up your clients’ land with a wheeled skid steer that doesn’t grip the ground well. And you don’t want to pick up a used bucket that might cause more damage than good.

On the other hand, if you’re just looking for something to move dirt around your yard or farm, you might need a heavy duty tooth bucket and tracks vs wheels doesn’t really matter too much.

Another area you have to consider is your budget. These machines can be expensive, and even used machines can be pricey depending on the make, model, and attachments. Make sure you know what kind of budget you have and find the best machine that fits within your limit.

Skid Steer with a Attachments
Always consider which attachments come with the skid steer.

Research different types of skid steers available

As you’re thinking about your needs, take a look around and research the different types of skid steers available. There are three main categories: track skid steers, wheeled skid steers, and mini-skid steers.

Each type of skid steer has its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before making a decision. Track skid steers have more power, so they can handle heavier loads and work in more difficult terrain. But keep in mind there are some with wide tracks and others with narrow tracks. Wheeled skid steers have better maneuverability and are faster than track models. And mini-skid steers are ideal for tight spaces or delicate projects due to the small size of their frames – plus, they tend to be just a bit cheaper than the others. However, nonetheless, they’re a good solid skidsteer.

Consider the size, weight, and power of the skid steer.

Right up there with the type of skid steer you’re looking at, you should also consider the size, operating weight, and power of the skid steer. The size of your skid steer will determine what kind of jobs you can do with it, as well as how easy it is to transport. If you’re going to be taking it from job site to job site, a smaller model may be preferable.

Weight and power are also important considerations. A skid steer with more weight will be able to carry heavier loads, while a model with more power can handle tougher terrain. Make sure you understand the maximum capacity of the machine before making a purchase. Ranchers, for example, probably move a bit more hay than anyone else and those big round bales are around 1,000lbs. In that case, you’d want a skid steer that can easily lift 1,000lbs or more with a fork attachment.

Check for any existing damage or wear-and-tear on used skid steers.

Have you ever purchased a car only to realize it was a lemon? Or maybe it lasted a couple of thousand miles before the transmission gave out? Skid steers can be just as unpredictable regarding existing damage or wear and tear.

Before you make a purchase, inspect the machine closely and look for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Are all the tires in good condition? What about the hydraulic system and hydraulic quick attach? Is the engine running smoothly? If there are any signs of damage or wear-and-tear on the skid steer, you’re better off looking for a different model. Of course, you’ll want to do a thorough inspection with any used equipment.

Keep in mind, however, that these machines do take a beating due to the industries they’re used in. Just because it has some scratches and dents doesn’t mean it’s not a good solid machine.

Hydraulice Arm on Skid Steer
Always be sure to check out the hydraulic systems on a used skid steer.

Test out the controls of the machine to ensure it is comfortable to use.

It seems like every skid steer I’ve ever operated has had a different control layout. Some are comfortable and intuitive to use with foot controls and joystick controls, while others are clunky and hard to get the hang of. Before you make a purchase, make sure you test out the controls of the machine to ensure it is comfortable for you to use.

Take it for a test drive and try lifting and moving some heavy objects to get a feel for how the machine responds. If it has features like automatic ride control, give that a try as well. This will help you decide whether or not it’s the right fit for you and your needs.

Also, if possible, ask around and see what other operators think about the handling of the machine. Word of mouth can be a great way to get an honest opinion about how well a machine works in practice. You’ll find some operators like the foot controls, while others like the intuitiveness of the joystick controls.

Make sure all necessary attachments are included with the purchase.

Sure, the heart of the machine is the skid steer itself, but it’s really nothing without its attachments. Ensure the machine sells with various attachments you’ll need for the various tasks you’ll be using it for.

For example, if you’re going to be doing grading and leveling work with your skid steer, make sure a grading bucket or tooth bar is included. If you’re going to be working on landscaping projects, make sure a soil smoother, tree digger, or mulching attachment is part of the purchase. Ask about other types of attachments as well, such as a reverse camera or rear weight kit.

Get a professional inspection before committing to buy a used skid steer.

Just like a used car, be sure to get a professional inspection on any used skid steer you’re thinking of buying. Have an experienced mechanic check the engine and hydraulic systems for signs of wear, damage and check to ensure it has good tracks or potential problems that could arise in the future.

The cost of this thorough inspection will be money well spent if it saves you from having to make expensive repairs or replacements down the road.

These guys can typically identify problems that you may have overlooked during your own inspection.

Where to find used skid steers?

There are countless places that have a decent inventory of used skid steers.

We recommend checking online at auction sites and classifieds, as well as at local dealerships. You can find some great deals online at places like TractorHouse, but be sure to check out the machine in person before purchasing if possible. Although, sometimes the deal is too good to pass up, and you just have to take the seller’s word for it before the machine sells to someone else. At the very least, get any additional information you can about the skid steer.

Auctions are also a great place to find used skid steers. Many auctions offer machines that have been retired from service departments or rental fleets. These skid steers are typically in very good condition and can be had for a fraction of their original cost.

FAQs for the best used skid steer.

We’ve put together a few FAQs that we get asked on a regular basis when it comes to buying the best used skid steer:

What should I look for in a used skid steer?

Look at all the major components of the machine, such as the engine and hydraulic system. Ensure they are in good condition and that all necessary attachments come with the purchase. We wouldn’t spend too much time focusing on cosmetics or whether it has an open cab or a cloth seat; after all, these machines take a beating. However, the major structural and driveline components are essential and costly to repair, so get a good look at those. After all, you want something that’s going to move material like a champ.

What is the most reliable skid steer?

All of the major brands have their own pros and cons. From what we’ve seen over the years, Bobcat makes a solid skid steer, and you can’t go wrong with them. Case and Caterpillar also make reliable and quality machines. So if you stay around the major players in the industry, you’ll be fine.

Who makes the toughest skid steer?

The Bobcat T770 is the toughest skid steer we’ve seen. We had a project that put a T770 through hell and back, and it kept on truckin’. The Cat 299D2 is also a pretty tough machine and withstands heavy workloads with ease. Either of those two are quality skid steers and will get the job done.

How many hours is good for a used skid steer?

We’ve heard some experts say that the lifespan of a skid steer is around 5,000 hours, but we’ve seen them go well beyond that. However, if you’re buying a used skid steer, the best bet is to keep it below 3,000 hours. If you’re a power user, keep it down below 2,000. Beyond that you may have quite a few maintenance issues that could arise. Make sure to ask the seller for maintenance records if possible.

What should I pay for a used skid steer?

While there are a lot of factors that go into the price, a half-decent skid steer that is just a couple of years old will run you around $25,000. The best used Bobcat we’ve seen as of writing this is at $27,000 on auction. That’s not to say they won’t be cheaper or more expensive than that, but it gives you a good starting point.

Ready to find the best used skid steer for your job?

Buying a used skid steer can be daunting, but by following these tips, you’ll have the best chance of finding a reliable machine that will meet your needs. Make sure to inspect for any existing damage or wear-and-tear, test out the controls, and take it for a spin before committing to buy.

Also, don’t forget to get all necessary attachments included with the purchase and ask around about what other operators think of its handling. Finally, make sure you do a professional inspection so you won’t run into unexpected repairs in the future. With this advice in mind, go forth confidently searching for the perfect used skid steer.

About the Author

Matt Avatar

Matt

Excavation Expert

Matt is a highly experienced heavy equipment operator with over two decades of experience in the construction industry. His expertise covers a wide range of machinery and project types, and he is known for his focus on safety, efficiency, and problem-solving. Matt's commitment to delivering high-quality work within deadlines and budgets has made him highly respected at Centex Excavation and the excavation industry.

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