10 Essential Things To Inspect When Buying a Used Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader

posted on Friday, May 26, 2023 in How To

Skid Steer

Popular for its ability to tackle a wide range of tasks and fit in small spaces, the skid steer or compact track loader is a must-have compact machine for any work site. However, depending on your budget, it may not be cost-effective to purchase a brand-new skid steer. Buying used is a great option.

Whether you’re a first-time skid steer shopper or you’ve bought one before, there are certain items you should check when purchasing previously owned equipment. Learn the ten essential things to inspect when buying a used skid steer.

1. Remaining Operating Hours 

The first thing you should check are the available hours left on the machine. The typical skid steer’s lifespan is about 5,000 hours, but this could be higher or lower depending on the brand. Aim to purchase a skid steer with less than 3,500 used operating hours.  

2. Engine Performance

Evaluating a used machine’s condition includes testing all of its parts. Begin your inspection with the heart of the machine in the engine. When you start the engine is it smooth or stalling? Is it making strange noises? Stalling and strange sounds could indicate the engine is not in good condition. You also want to check the engine’s exhaust smoke. Black, blue, or gray smoke means something could be wrong with the engine.

3. Hydrostatic Drive

After the engine, the hydrostatic pump and motors are probably the most important skid steer component. Also known as the hydrostatic drive, it’s responsible for the smooth operation of your skid steer. Inspect the drive motors to ensure they are not leaking. When checking the transmission, make sure it’s operating properly and is responsive.

4. Leaks and Squeaks 

Leaks are another easy thing to look for during your skid steer assessment. Check for leaks in the engine area and other interior parts of the machine. You also want to look under, behind, in front of, and around the skid steer to ensure there is no leaking or dripping. A leak could mean something inside the skid steer is broken or not working properly. 

Just like with the engine, you want to listen for any unusual noises when you examine the skid steer. When you raise the boom attachment, does it squeak excessively? This could be a sign of a damaged part.

5. Wear and Tear 

It’s normal for used equipment to display some signs of wear and tear. But you don’t want to purchase a machine that is so run down it won’t have anything left to give after you purchase it. As you evaluate the interior and exterior areas of the skid steer, look for signs of rust, cracks, or damage. Don’t forget to also examine the quick attach to the boom pins and the bushings.

If there are newly repaired parts or a fresh coat of paint, it’s worth asking about those areas and why they were repaired. You want to verify the new paint job or repair isn’t meant to conceal a hidden defect.

6. Oil and Health of Other Fluids

Think of a vehicle’s fluids as a code that can easily reveal if the machine is not in good shape. For example, if the engine oil, hydraulic, or transmission fluids are low or contaminated, it could mean the skid steer was not well maintained. Don’t skip checking the fluids. It can save you from making a purchase you’ll be unhappy with.

7. Operator Controls and Safety Features

Inside a skid steer’s cab is the operator area where the basic controls and levers are housed. These features may vary depending on the used skid steer brand, but usually include left and right levers, foot pedals, and of course brakes. The operator area will also include safety features such as a seatbelt and a lap bar. Test all these features so you know the skid steer can operate safely and efficiently. 

8. Tires or Tracks

Strong wheels can help your skid steer work and travel in tough terrain. Check a skid steer’s tires to ensure they are properly inflated, don’t have leaks, tears, or damage.

A compact track loader’s tracks are important to inspect. Look for deep cuts in the track and wear where the rollers run on the track. Any rubber that’s cracked or chunked out may make the loader run roughly. 

9. Attachments

Skid steers can be equipped with different types of attachments. The most popular being the bucket. If a used skid steer already comes with attachments, test drive how they work and examine them for wear and tear. If you think you’ll be adding additional attachments, check if the skid steer is equipped to work with those you want to use in the future. Check to ensure the boom rises quickly and smoothly.

10. Service or Maintenance Records

Last but not least, ask for past service or maintenance records. This will help you gain a holistic view of the skid steer’s condition. It will also help you prepare for any potential problems or repairs in the future. Once you purchase the used skid steer, it’s a good idea to continue to keep records of any service work. If you decide to sell the skid steer in the future, you can share the records with the next owner.

Buy a Used Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader at TriGreen 

Now you know the essential things to look for when buying a used skid steer or compact track loader. One more thing you'll want to consider is where to buy them. 

Visit a tried and true local TriGreen dealership. We have a wide range of used skid steers that can tackle any task. Our friendly experts can help you examine a skid steer and guide you to the right choice based on your needs and preferences. Visit us in-store, browse online, or contact us for more information about our used skid steers.

  1. buying used equipment
  2. skid-steer loaders
  3. used equipment

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