February 20, 2022

The Basics of Skid Steer Maintenance

Skid Steer Tire Change

Skid steers are a big investment, no matter what size or model you buy. An investment like that is one you should want to get the most returns on. Whether you use your skid steer every day or once every year, keeping up with your machine’s health will help it stay in working condition longer and save you costly repairs that only create more downtime. Luckily, maintaining your machine’s health doesn’t have to be a difficult task. To really keep your machine in top condition, you’ll need to follow a regular maintenance schedule that incorporates different approaches to maintenance.

Preventive Maintenance

Keeping your machine healthy means taking action before anything wrong has actually occurred.  Preventive maintenance is a way to keep up with your machine, catching small problems before they can snowball into bigger problems. Most preventive maintenance plans involve keeping a close eye on your machine, as well as following schedule inspections. It’s always a good idea to keep the machine’s manual or maintenance guide on hand. Usually, it will have instructions to help identify possible problems.

Daily Maintenance

Perhaps the most helpful thing you can do for your skid steer is to perform daily inspections. These only take a couple of minutes, but they can mean the difference between a quick part replacement and two weeks of downtime. Every day, you should go through three steps:

  1. Do a quick visual inspection. Check for any worn or damaged hoses, bolts or seals. Now is also a good time to grease your pivot points.
  2. Perform fluid level checks on all of your fluids, including engine oil, hydraulic fluid, fuel, and coolant. While you’re working at the engine compartment, you should also look over your engine and hydraulics for any leaks.
  3. Finally, check your tire pressure on every tire before starting up. Both over-inflated and under-inflated tires will affect the performance and lifting capacity of your skid steer loader, not to mention the machine’s health.

Once you start your skid steer, you should allow it to idle for a few minutes. Listen for any unusual sounds and feel for any concerning movements.

Monthly Maintenance

Alongside daily checks, most heavy equipment will require some maintenance tasks around the 250, 500, and 1,000 hour mark. What your exact machine needs at those time intervals is likely in the manual or maintenance guide. Generally, however, you’re most likely going to change your engine oil and replace any used filters. Although this might sound like common sense, it’s easy to forget just how integral the correct fluid level is to your skid steer’s operation.

Seasonal Maintenance

If you’re caught off-guard by a wave of extreme cold or heat, it could cost you days of lost time. That’s why you should take the time to adequately prepare your machine for the weather. Both hot and cold weather can affect the viscosity and temperature of your fluid, so you should check these on top of your fluid level when starting up. This also applies to the grease, so double-checking your pins and bushings and pivots is a must.

In hot weather, your radiator and oil cooler are working extra hard to fight the heat. You’ll want to make sure they are clean and in working order before you start. For that same reason, you should keep an extra close eye on your coolant levels.

Cold weather presents its own problems. Your fluids’ viscosities are especially important during this time, as oil that is too cold can ‘gel’ and cause serious damage to the machine. The cold also puts your battery at a greater risk of losing voltage. Whether you decide to take the battery to a service bay to recharge or you replace it outright, tracking the battery’s voltage lets you make the decision before the machine can no longer operate.

Skid steer removing snow from road
Skid steer removing snow from road

At its core, the most important part of your maintenance plan is an observant eye. Spotting problems before they turn into breakdowns is key to saving you repair costs and downtime, but what if you could keep track of your machine’s data without even touching it? With T3, you can access all the info you need on your equipment — GPS location, machine use history, diagnostic codes, service history and more — to better control your assets and ensure they are always in top condition. 

If an issue occurs, you can place your work order from your desk or from the field in T3 and keep your workflow moving forward. But why only check your fleet’s battery and fluid levels during regular service intervals? Proactively monitor each machine’s maintenance needs by setting alerts for when they are running low on fuel, oil, coolant, DEF and more. Plus, our DTC Fault Code alerts don’t just tell you when a DTC code is triggered — they tell you why it was triggered, which allows you to quickly address the issue with limited downtime. Learn more about T3.

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