Your Illinois Skid Steer Needs Tracks

Your Illinois skid steer is going to need some skid steer tracks this winter. Winter weather means slippery streets, driveways, walkways, and parking lots. Anywhere that cars, trucks, and humans need to go will inevitably get some snow and ice. Once an Illinois skid steer owner knows what the weather is going to dish out, it is just a matter of choosing the best tracks for the job.


Steel skid steer tracks offer the most grip. These skid steer tracks come with individual bar links, and as such, steel tracks find their way deep into the wet slush, deep snow and muddy soil, and can get even the largest Illinois skid steer loader out of the slickest predicaments. The Illinois skid steer does its best work in the tightest spots where conventional trucks, tractors, and machinery cannot go.

But steel skid steer tracks, for the very same reasons, cause the most damage to terrain. So they might not be the best choice when plowing snow or working in residential areas where the lawns and drives might be obscured by snowy drifts.


Stamped steel Illinois skid steer tracks are flat profile tracks that are perfect for providing maximum grip in established yards. They are general, all-purpose landscaping tracks that an Illinois skid steer owner can fit to the machine without worrying about tearing up grass and dirt beneath the snow drifts, and without worrying about crossing over concrete driveways and walkways.


For a finished home with concrete walks and a driveway, certainly avoid the use of steel tracks. Rubber tracks that can be added to your Illinois skid steer machine are a smart choice.

In the mud, slush and snow, rubber OTT tracks for your skid steer loader offer a truly enhanced tracking experience over the standard skid steer wheel-set. They still allow for the perfect pivoting that the skid steer loader is famous for, and are sufficient to handle slick, snowy, and even hilly conditions. They are not as aggressive as their steel counterparts, so they’re better to use on nicer surfaces.

This winter, your skid steer loader need not be put away awaiting warm weather. With the right set of OTT skid steer tracks (and maybe a heater in the cab!), the coldest part of the year might also be the best.

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Skid Steer Tracks Accessories: Spacers, the Final Frontier

Do your skid steer tracks fit right? The original skid steer loader had a set of wheels that allowed the machine to turn on a dime, so the little machine was an instant hit. That is, until people started driving the things willy-nilly into any and every kind of terrain. In really gooey mud, loose sand and some unpacked gravel, the skid steer spins those wheels, no matter how deep the tread.

It turns out that a skid steer with dedicated skid steer tracks will give more traction over a wide range of terrain, but the cost of maintenance for all of those moving parts can be up to four dollars per hour more than a wheeled machine.

That’s why the best solution for getting the most traction for the least amount of money is to fit rubber skid steer tracks to a wheeled skid steer loader. Rubber skid steer tracks offer a truly enhanced tracking experience over the standard skid steer wheel-set. They still allow for the perfect pivoting that skid steer loaders are famous for, but in wet, grainy sand — everything but the steepest, slickest goo that the earth and the weather can dish out — rubber tracks are life-savers. They can also be used in all of the residential areas that steel skid steer tracks can not: they are harmless to sidewalks and drives, and perform even better than stock wheels on grassy areas as the weight of the machine is distributed over a larger contact area.

The only problem seems to occur when it comes time to fit skid steer tracks to the myriad sizes of skid steer machines available. The new rubber tracks may rub against the skid steer frame, or come into contact with the boom, stopping it from lowering correctly.

The correct wheel spacers are the answer and they are available to you. Some skid steer owners are lucky enough to have off-set wheels and gain the clearance they need by flipping each wheel around. Do that, and you will off-set your tires enough to allow you to run skid steer tracks without the need for spacers. However, machines with centerline wheels (wheels centered on their rims) don’t allow you to flip the wheels around and gain a few inches of additional clearances.

However, there must be sufficient space between the skid steer tracks and the skid steer frame, and the boom must not touch the tracks in its lowest position. It is crucial for most attachments to fully engage with the ground surface. Interesting how something small like wheel spacers can totally transform your skid steer loader.

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How Do I Choose Between Different Skid Steer Tracks?

Skid steer tracks help make your skid steer loader more grippy, turning a wheeled loader into a miniature go-anywhere armored personnel carrier.

Otherwise, despite its amazing capabilities and its phenomenal turning radius and drivability, the skid steer loader does have a few problems with wheel slippage in some conditions: most in super-thick mud, loose sand and loose gravel.

That’s why somebody along the way invented temporary skid steer tracks that can be applied over those wheels. They are referred to as OTT (over the tire) tracks, as they are not built on to the skid steer loaders. There are a few different kinds of OTT skid steer tracks, and each set has its high and low points.

Rubber and Urethane Tracks. Rubber or urethane skid steer tracks have a number of excellent qualities. They definitely improve traction, which is the obvious reason people buy them. They are not as aggressive as some, but these tracks also offer such a smooth ride, there is no need to remove them for inside work (like in a warehouse). And they are soft enough that they will not harm driveways or lawns.

Steel Tracks and Cleats. Steel skid steer tracks and cleats turn the skid steer loader into a dirt chewing monster. They will yank your skid steer out of anything. Thick mud and clay, sand, gravel — they always seem to find grip. That’s also the only drawback to these reticulated steel bars wrapped around skid steer wheels. They can also cut into things like walkways, driveways, streets and lawns that homeowners prefer to keep intact.

Pricing skid steer tracks can sometimes be confusing. Outfits with higher prices will tell buyers that their quality is superior, but often inflated prices simply mean the fact that there are several people between the source and the end-user that are trying to get a piece of the profit.

We at Skid Steer think this kind of scalping is ridiculous. We were tired of seeing unreasonably high prices because everyone wanted to have their fingers in the customers pockets. So we starting having our own skid steer tracks molded and produced directly, to make prices more reasonable for our customers.

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Sizing Your Skidsteer Tracks

Are your skidsteer tracks ready? Spring has sprung. And so have the clouds! It is a good thing; the change of seasons is always a miracle. But miracle or not, you and your skidsteer need to know what it takes to get your work done without needlessly getting stuck and losing revenue. Skidsteer tracks are (at least) one of the solutions. But there are several different types. Which ones are the best for you and your skidsteer? And what about size?

There are essentially three types of skidsteer tracks available: steel, rubber, and urethane. Each has its pros and cons, and hopefully you will find among these the type that works best for the job that you have ahead of you this Spring. Each type mentioned here is an OTT, or over-the-tire track set. It can be installed and removed fairly easily, and you also retain the use of your tires when the job calls for them.

Steel skidsteer tracks offer the most grip. With individual bar links, steel tracks find their way deep into the wet and muddy soil, and work like a charm. But steel tracks, for the very same reasons, cause the most damage to terrain. So they might not be the best choice when negotiating residential lawns, and steel will also score, scratch, and many times even break the surface of driveways, sidewalks, and macadam. For more delicate surfaces, the rubber or urethane choices are better.

Sizing your skidsteer tracks is as important as the material from which they are made. If your tracks are the wrong size, you could waste a lot of time and money if they break, damage your skidsteer, or slip off the machine altogether.

To properly size your skidsteer tracks,

  • Check your frame-to-tire clearance. There should be a minimum of three inches of space to avoid contact with the frame of the skidsteer.
  • Check your frame-to-boom clearance. In order to make sure the skidsteer boom does not meet the skidsteer tracks in its lowest position, there should be a minimum of 2 and 1/4 inches of clear space.
  • Before installing your tracks, ensure that all of the tires on your skidsteer are of the same width and type, to avoid slippage and give you a safe driving environment.
  • Attachment clearance: it is also necessary to allow at least three inches of clearance between the front tires and the attachment you’ll be using.

Once your skidsteer tracks are tightened up, sag between the tires should be about 1 and 1/2 to 3 inches. And then you’re ready to experience some serious grip! Even when the heavens turn the earth to mush.

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