Steer the Course

March 1, 2003
Skid steer loaders are often one of the most hard-working members of a contractor's team, so it's important to keep the machines running at peak performance.

Skid steer loaders are often one of the most hard-working members of a contractor's team, so it's important to keep the machines running at peak performance. Following are some tips and hints to help keep your skid steer loader in proper working order.


  • Inflating tires with nitrogen reduces the risk of explosion, slows down the oxidation of the rubber, reduces the corrosion of rim components and slows gradual tire deterioration.

  • Use the same tire pressures that would be appropriate for air inflation when using nitrogen to inflate tires.

  • Remember that tire pressure in a warm shop area will change significantly when the machine goes outside into colder temperatures. Consult the owner's manual for cold-weather inflation pressures to prolong the life of the machine's tires.


  • To help extend component life let the engine warm up before getting to work and let the turbo charger idle down before shutting the machine off.

  • Be sure to closely match the proper fluid specification to your brand of machine. Each manufacturer may have a different specification for each of the major machine fluids (engine oil, hydraulic oil and coolant).

  • In the cooling system, never use water alone without supplemental coolant additive or inhibited coolant. Water alone is corrosive at engine operating temperatures and does not provide adequate boil protection.

  • When using water with a supplemental coolant additive, use distilled or de-ionized water in the cooling system. Hard water, or water softened with salt can damage the system.

  • Select a heavy-duty coolant/antifreeze with a low silicate content that meets ASTM D4985 or ASTM D5345 regulations and has a minimum concentration of 1200 mg per liter of nitrite content.

  • Extended life coolant can be recycled. The drained coolant mixture can be distilled to remove the ethylene glycol and the water. Consult your dealer for more detail.


  • After 10 service hours or at the end of the day check: grease points, hydraulic oil level, engine oil, fuel system water separator, radiator coolant level, reservoir coolant level, and engine air filter service indicator.

  • After 250 service hours or after one month of use add cooling system coolant additive and inspect v-belts.

  • After 500 service hours or after three months change the engine oil and filter, replace the fuel system water separator element, and change the hydraulic oil filter and diesel fuel filter.

  • After 1,000 service hours or once per year change drive chain case oil and hydraulic oil.

  • After 3,000 service hours or every two years add extender to the extended life coolant.

  • After 6,000 service hours or every four years change extended life coolant.

  • Always carry work tool attachments close to the ground so that you have good visibility and the machine has good stability.

  • The skid steer operator should always conduct a thorough walk-around inspection before beginning. Things to look for include: loose belts, trash buildup, oil or coolant leaks, and broken or worn parts.

Information provided by Doug Johnston, marketing and distribution development manager, Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.