Skid steer loaders are powerful heavy machines that provide help in many industries. From construction sites and landscaping to removal of dirt and waste, these heavy duty machines work hard, often under challenging conditions.
Modern companies that rely on wheel loaders depend on their longevity and efficiency. To maximise the machine age and keep it in perfect operating conditions, they need an appropriate maintenance program.
In this guide, we at Frontu will teach you the best ways to maximise the lifespan of your skid steer loader. Here you will learn the main factors that affect mini excavators, as well as their major components and maintenance:
- Mileage – are you using a new machine, used dozers, or stolen equipment?
- Service frequency – does your wheel loader receive basic preventative maintenance care?
- Inspection priority – taking care of damages in the correct order
- Operating conditions – how do seasonal factors, excessive track wear, and abrasive materials shorten the machine’s lifespan?
Keep reading to learn about these factors and other conditions in great detail.
What maintenance does a skid steer need?
To keep their loaders and other heavy duty machines in top condition, modern companies follow a good pm program. Here are the main procedures that test heavy machinery and their components:
Regular cleaning procedures
As an abrasive materials handling machine, a wheel loader gets a lot of dirt and debris stuck in its other components. Regular maintenance procedures focus on eliminating any waste and humidity that could damage the engine, air filters, articulation joint, hydraulic system and other major parts.
A clean, but high quality used dozer will outlast new heavy duty machines if they are not properly cleaned. Without proper removal of waste, the concentration of dirt will make cleaning much harder, and the negative effects on the components are more severe.
All vehicles need regular fluid changes to keep them cool, safe, and lubricated. Frequent servicing is even more important for wheel loaders, motor graders, and other heavy equipment.
Your preventative maintenance problem must prioritise the replacement of oil, hydraulic fluid, coolants, and lubricants. Well-serviced wheel loaders have a much bigger average lifespan.
Air filter replacement
Wheel loaders are rarely used in perfect conditions and on flat ground. Instead, the tires, load bucket, and other parts are always in contact with dirt, dust, and other abrasive materials. Harsher seasonal factors affect the undercarriage wear even more, adding more entrance points for harmful materials.
Air filters ensure that contaminants do not reach the engine and the machine’s electrical components. Without harmful materials inside, the vehicle runs clean air through the engine, ensuring safe and efficient combustion.
Tires and undercarriage wear
As the components are in constant contact with uneven ground and dirt, the wheels and the machine’s undercarriage accumulate a lot of dirt, dust, and sharp rocks. These invaders damage the tires, and once they get stuck, they damage the entire body of the vehicle.
For wheel loaders, basic preventive maintenance care has to keep tires and undercarriage in top condition for both the safety and efficiency of these machines. With cleaning procedures, pressure checks, and other tests, these components will remain functional, even in harsh conditions.
Modern wheel loaders are advanced machines that come with electrical components and heavy equipment software. While the extra features allow for remote machine monitoring and offer updates on component life, these systems need weekly checks from specialised technicians.
Loader bucket inspection
Load buckets carry the weight that makes dozers and motor graders flexible and efficient. To make sure that these parts produce the largest work output, without affecting safety and longevity, operators need to inspect the bucket, its bushings and bearings.
First, the operator checks the controls and safety features. If all functions work as intended, regular maintenance tasks clean the hydraulic system, look for wear and tear, and find replacement parts.
Load buckets and their operating parts often receive additional inspections because their malfunction is dangerous to other employees. After maintenance procedures, a trained operator should test the loading bucket to make sure the component will not cause any accidents.
How can I find a reputable equipment dealer for construction equipment?
If you are looking for a new machine, most owners recommend checking the seller’s history. Many factors of prior sales can affect your new machines.
The best way to get a solid piece of equipment is to buy it at a local dealership. Most contractors that sell a used dozer may not provide detailed photos to hide the true state of an older machine. Without a trusted equipment dealer, even the dealer’s rental fleet may present faulty information about the product.
Unethical business practices are often used by private sellers that mislead the buyer with weird angles for visual inspections, the dozer’s maintenance history, and even some video walkarounds that hide the state of most components.
A fair construction equipment seller will provide a complete history of maintenance costs, and existing damages that accurately depict the machine’s life in the online listing. Reputable dealers know the operating costs and even provide leads to the equipment market for spare parts and machine service support.
However, even if you work with reliable general contractors, use research tools, and ask questions to better understand the condition of your new equipment. If they also do rental business, your new powerful machine may have less than 10,000 hours left in its useful life cycle.
How often should you service a skid steer?
Skid steer servicing depends on the key hours of your used dozer, the manufacturer of new equipment, and other factors. While your best bet is to check the service manual to understand the wheel loader, its maximum hours, and the effects of different conditions.
While regular maintenance procedures are performed on a daily or weekly basis, their execution alone can boost the average lifespan of your heavy machinery. A wheel loader’s average lifespan is about 10,000 hours, but a good pm program, and mild job site conditions can push used equipment beyond these numbers.
Here are the main guidelines that decide the servicing of construction equipment. Use these to keep the machines in good shape and go above 10,000 hours, even with more wear.
Regular maintenance checks for heavy duty machines
Keeping your good machine in top condition will determine the longevity of your machines. Here are the most common maintenance intervals, used by modern construction companies.
Daily maintenance focuses on checking tires, brakes, fluid levels, and an overall visual inspection. When working with used equipment, daily service procedures may inspect parts affected by gradual failure, and inform skilled technicians about the damages.
Weekly service procedures are performed every 1–2 weeks and include extra servicing recommendations from the construction equipment manufacturer. These steps ensure that the machine works under optimal conditions, which moves its life cycle closer to the expected 10,000 hours.
Monthly service tasks look at the history of prior maintenance checks and inspect stronger vehicle components. These procedures may include the help of skilled technicians, the installation of new software, electrical components, and replacement parts.
How do I know when my skid steer loader needs to be serviced?
Besides the regular servicing schedule, your skid steer loader may need emergency checks to reach its destined 10,000 hours of service. Also, the maintenance program and its timing should be adjusted if the machine does its major work in harsh conditions.
With proper operator training and the environment of an average job site, the servicing schedule for your piece of equipment should align with the manufacturer’s recommendations. A prime model example, Topcon’s smartgrade dozer, comes with extra machine components that enhance its longevity.
Servicing needs can also be reduced with proper operator training. When employees avoid bad driving practices and use efficient handling, plus other techniques like limiting reversing the longevity of each vehicle will suffer less abrasion.
Also, construction companies that use heavy equipment software can track every machine through sensors monitoring their state. Even better, for a low price, if one machine experiences a total breakdown while performing a top-priority task, service technicians and operators can receive automated warnings about the situation. While one loader is being repaired, managers can redistribute equipment and send the machine with the lowest workload to the hot spot.
How long does a bulldozer last
Technicians and maintenance planners can predict future repairs by knowing the average lifespan of the dozer’s components. Here are the expected hours for the main wheel loader parts:
- Engine – from 7,500 to 15,000 hours
- Brakes – from 5,000 to 15,000 hours, depending on the model and operator’s driving
- Articulation joint – from 5,000 to 15,000 hours
- Load bucket – 5,000 to 10,000, depending on the driver, weight load, and handled material
- Tires – 5,000 to 10,000, can be lower in very harsh driving conditions
With proper documentation of the maintenance history, you can anticipate the gradual failure of these components, and prepare suitable replacements in advance. This ensures that every operated machine and equipment part is in top condition, and changes would greatly extend the lifespan of the wheel loader.
A skid steer loader is a very valuable machine that helps carry big weights at fast speeds on all sorts of job sites. Bigger projects usually have multiple dozers, with modern companies using modern equipment with heavy equipment software.
Businesses that take care of their skid steer loaders can carry over their maintenance plans for the rest of the heavy equipment, making sure that every machine works as long as possible without extra repair costs.
For more information on heavy duty machines and the future of construction equipment, check out this article on the future of maintenance software. These improvements continue to extend the average lifespan of irreplaceable tools with modern preventative care and remote machine monitoring.