The Difference Between Wheeled and Track Loaders

The Difference Between Wheeled and Track Loaders

If you're looking to rent a loader for your business, you'll have to make several crucial decisions along the way. In addition to evaluating criteria such as size, type, horsepower and the use of work tool attachments, you'll need to consider whether the machine should have tracks or wheels. Each option presents several advantages for your business.

wheel vs track loaders

Track vs. Wheeled Loaders

Here's a quick overview of the factors involved when choosing between a wheeled or track loader:

  • Terrain: Wheeled loaders are best for hard surfaces like paved roads and landscaped areas. Track loaders perform better on rough, uneven terrain.
  • Speed: When it comes to ground speed, wheels have a distinct advantage over tracks. While wheeled equipment will roll over the ground much like an automobile, tread-based machines move at a slower pace. If you must make multiple trips over long distances, you'll likely want a wheeled loader.
  • Maneuverability: A track loader has the edge when working in tight spots. Most track machines have a tight turning radius, while their wheeled counterparts typically need more room to turn around. A track loader can even move laterally, which is impossible for a wheeled loader.
  • Maintenance: The need for upkeep is another consideration when selecting track vs. wheeled loader equipment. The tracks and undercarriages on track machines take a beating and require frequent maintenance. Conversely, wheeled models have fewer moving parts and experience less wear and tear, making them more budget-friendly to operate.
  • Traction: Track machines give you better traction on soft or unstable surfaces. They can navigate challenging terrain that is inaccessible to wheeled loaders. Manufacturers have designed them to provide more ground contact over larger surface areas.
  • Cost: For some companies, the price is a crucial difference between wheeled and track loaders. Wheeled machines are typically less expensive to rent.
  • Seasonal use: If you're renting a loader in early spring, a track loader will deliver more reliable results if you encounter soft or soggy ground or areas that may still have snow cover. 
  • Versatility: Do you need rental equipment that can perform multiple tasks? Wheeled machines are more compatible with work tool attachments like buckets, grapples, mulchers and rippers. Slip-over tracks are available that enable you to transform a wheeled loader into track equipment if necessary. 
  • Consistency: You'll likely experience more consistent and reliable performance when using a track loader. You won't have any "power hop," a potentially dangerous situation that can occur when a wheel loses traction. In addition, you won't have to worry about flat tires that can put your projects behind schedule.


Loaders perform the necessary task of picking up loose matter on work sites. These machines are excellent for scooping or lifting materials such as:

  • Dirt and soil
  • Sand
  • Gravel, rocks and stones
  • Ore
  • Rubble
  • Logs
  • Building materials
  • Bricks
  • Pipes
  • Trash
  • Hay bales
  • Manure
  • Seeds
  • Grain

Some tasks you can use wheeled or tracked loaders for include:

  • Stockpiling materials
  • Moving the stockpiles to another location
  • Loading materials into a truck
  • Unloading materials 
  • Placing loads on a conveyor
  • Removing snow
  • Cutting and stacking logs
  • Cleaning debris
  • Leveling terrain
  • Removing debris and waste from the work site
  • Clearing building materials
  • Handling trash
  • Moving hay bales to feed animals
  • Transporting manure for disposal
  • Carrying feed
  • Clearing and tilling land
  • Transporting pipes

Some of these tasks may require a work tool attachment like a bale spearbrushcuttersnow plow or tiller.

Track and wheel loaders often see daily use in these industries:

Track vs. Wheel: Choosing the Right Loader for Your Applications 

There are many factors to consider when renting a loader. The expert team at The Cat® Rental Store can help you understand the differences between wheeled and track loaders so you can make an informed decision. Browse our wheeled loader and track loader inventories online to find your ideal rental. Give us a call at 1-800-RENT-CAT, or contact us for a quick quote today. Feel free to browse our entire equipment inventory online.

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