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Skid Steer Tracks vs. Tires: Which Is Right For When?

A wheeled skid steer.


If your business has grown and you’ve upgraded to some heavy-duty machinery, a one-size-fits-all solution may not always be viable. For example, the Bobcat, or skid loader, can do many jobs on tough terrain or flat surfaces, but how do skid steer tracks vs. tires rate, and which is the right choice for the situation at hand?

The Case for TracksSkid-steer loader with tracks

Tracks equal traction. A vehicle on tracks can navigate sand, mud, snow and uneven terrain that a wheeled machine can’t. In fact, you could sink into the soil or even tip over if you used wheels on the same terrain.

Tracks can work well on hard surfaces and are maneuverable in tight spaces where wheeled vehicles aren’t. If you cut the power to one track, the skid steer pivots on the one with power. Another advantage is that the skid steer won’t leave deep ruts in soft ground the way wheeled vehicles do. On the scorecard, that rates big points for skid steer tracks vs. tires.

The Case for Tires

If you’re working on a flat, even or hard surface, tires are very capable. On pavement, they’re quicker than tracks, and a skid steer on wheels can get more done in less time than a tracked vehicle with the right terrain. Another major factor to consider is that tracks tend to wear out more quickly than tires on hard surfaces, which can lead to more expenses for new tracks and more downtime spent changing them. A skid steer with tires also has a lower maintenance cost than one with tracks. Pair that with the lower upfront cost, and tires make up some ground in the skid steer tracks vs. tires debate.

The Compromise Solution

Like clip-on sunglasses and slip-on overshoes, there are now slip-on tracks for wheeled skid steers. These OTTs, or over-the-tire add-ons, slip over your tires to increase steer traction. They take 20 minutes to install, and their maintenance costs are lower than those of a dedicated track system. They also give you the flexibility to use a single machine for both routine hard-surface jobs and jobs that involve more challenging terrain.

Ultimately, the question of skid steer tracks vs. tires comes down to knowing your business, your needs and what services you want to offer in the future.

Check out all the Bobcat parts available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on skid steer tracks vs. tires, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and Previous outlets have included KFBK and in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and

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