Wheel vs. Track Excavators

Wheel vs. Track Excavators

An excavator is likely the equipment that comes to mind when you think about powerful digging machines for construction work. You'll surely need a reliable excavator for virtually any job that requires breaking ground. 

The Cat® Rental Store carries a large inventory of excavators for rent in a variety of configurations and sizes. You'll find an assortment of late-model machines from Caterpillar at affordable daily, weekly and monthly rates. 


One of the most important decisions you'll need to make when renting excavators is whether you should select one with wheels or tracks. A wheel vs. track excavator comparison in several crucial areas can help you make the right choice for your company and applications:

  • Terrain: Track excavators crawl over soft and hilly land well, have a low center of gravity and cannot be punctured by rocks. These features make track excavators best for off-road, steep work sites. Wheel excavators are safer to use on finished pavement and can drive better on roads, making them best for bridge construction and urban projects.
  • Transportation: Since track excavators should not be operated on finished roads, they need to be transported on and off the job site. Track excavators are best when you have a long-term project and the excavator can stay on-site for a while. Wheel excavators move well between job sites and can be driven on the road, making them best for short-term, fast-paced projects.
  • Stability: Track excavators are larger in size and have a small ground clearance compared to wheel excavators. The low center of gravity combined with the significant undercarriage weight provides higher load capacity and extra stability. Many wheel excavators have stabilizers that allow them to match, and in some cases, surpass, the tracked unit's load capacity.
  • Digging depth: Since wheel excavators sit higher off the ground, they cannot dig as deeply as track excavators.
  • Speed: When it comes to construction equipment, wheels allow a machine to move much faster than tracks. While some wheel excavators have a maximum travel speed of up to 22 mph, a track excavator crawls along at 4-6 mph. The rapidity of a wheeled model is best if you need to drive the machine between work sites or perform multiple digging tasks at an expansive job site.
  • Maneuverability: The smaller footprint of a wheel excavator is more agile when navigating around crowded work sites or working in confined areas. 
  • Traction: Because of their track and undercarriage design, heavier weight and bigger footprint, track excavators typically provide better traction on slopes, loose soil and uneven terrain.
  • Versatility: Track excavators are primarily digging machines that also have limited attachment capabilities for performing demolition tasks. Wheel excavators are compatible with a broader assortment of work tool attachments that enable them to handle tasks such as mowing, brushcutting, ditch cleaning and stump grinding.
  • Maintenance: Wheel excavators are easier to maintain and have fewer repair issues due to the absence of an undercarriage and tracks.


Excavators are earthmoving machines capable of digging into the earth and lifting heavy loads of loose material. These capabilities make excavators the best machine for contractor and industrial needs. The top industries for excavators include:

In these industries, an excavator will perform tasks such as:

  • Digging trenches
  • Breaking holes
  • Excavating mines
  • Lifting materials and waste away
  • Grading landscapes
  • Busting concrete
  • Building access roads
  • Cutting and moving branches
  • Shearing and mulching brush and greenery
  • Creating underground passageways
  • Removing snow

Some industries are best suited to wheel excavators, while fleet managers in others should rent a track excavator. Wheeled models are best for confined, crowded job sites since these machines are physically smaller than track excavators. Track excavators can navigate across hills better than wheel excavators, making them the better choice for mining, heavy-duty construction and other areas with uneven terrain.


Since these types of excavators fit diverse applications, you may find wheel excavator brands and track excavator brands geared toward different industries. Choosing the right one is crucial in ensuring you'll rent quality equipment that performs well at the job site, so it pays to trust an industry leader with experience in manufacturing both varieties.

The Cat Rental Store wheel and track excavator inventory includes several models from the Caterpillar brand. Caterpillar is a widely known and respected name in the equipment industry, so you can be certain that you're getting an efficient, capable machine. Cat excavators help you get more work done in less time with the latest technology features, simple operation and lasting durability.

Rent one of these excavator sizes today to fit your job site:


The team at The Cat Rental Store has the expertise to help you decide which type of excavator is better for your applications. We offer flexible rental terms, on-time delivery to your job site and comprehensive maintenance and repair service for the duration of your rental agreement. With more than 1,300 stores around the world, we can provide local service from a dealer you trust. 

Please view our current inventory of wheel excavators and track excavators for rent today. If you have questions or need assistance, we're available by phone at 1-800-RENT-CAT. To request a fast quote, fill out and submit our online contact form.

Rent whatever you need from a rental provider that will do whatever it takes.

Find The Cat Rental Store Near You