Skid steer machinery is used for versatile applications. While they started out as farm equipment machinery, their use was quickly acknowledged and they spread out across multiple industries.
However, skid steers, big and small, need specific tires in order to properly function. Whether you purchase pneumatic models (a radial construction tire or a bias-belted tire), or solid tires, you need to know what to look for. Specific applications require specific tires.
But, what solid or pneumatic tire should you purchase for your particular need? Stay tuned and find out!
What are Skid Steer Tires?
Skid steer tires are heavy equipment tires manufactured for use on skid steers. These machines were originally put to work on various farms, but with time their application became widespread.
Nowadays, you can find skid steers in industrial and construction site operations. From a skid steer loader to mining equipment (and many applications in-between), these machines improve safety and working conditions on any construction site. But, not even heavy-duty equipment can perform without tires!
There are two types of skid steer tires: pneumatic tires and solid tires. They offer different pros and cons and perform in different manners. Let's see take a closer look at the pneumatic tires vs solid tires for skid steers debate.
Pneumatic Skid Steer Tires
It is safe to say that the industry standard is pneumatic tires. Many skid steer drivers prefer the "comfort" pneumatic tires offer, and they are also cheaper to purchase.
But, are these tires really better? Are they standard tires for skid steers?
Well, they are cheaper to purchase. A pneumatic tire works as a passenger car tire does. In other words, it needs air pressure to properly function. This makes them more affordable, as their up-front cost is cheaper.
The best tire for skid steers also offers a smooth ride. Rough terrain applications can be hard on drivers. Pneumatic tires offer shock absorption, minimizing the impact of rugged conditions felt in the vehicle's cabin. This is important as skid steers have no suspension and the skid steer tire pressure will be responsible for ensuring a smooth performance.
Now, let's take a look at the downside of a pneumatic tire.
First off, due to them needing air pressure to function, they are more prone to damage. Punctures are frequent on job-site applications, which will result in owners having to repair and change these pneumatic tires often.
On the other hand, its suspension, while offering a smooth performance, can also cause problems. Round terrains can cause the tires to bounce more frequently because of their inflation, which causes loads to shift. Sadly, this can quickly become a driving hazard.
Solid Skid Steer Tires
The other type is solid tires, or airless skid steer tires, which are perfect for skid steer loaders and other machinery.
Puncture resistance is the biggest selling point of solid tires for skid steer applications. Whether you need skid steer loader tires or ones for earth moving, rough surfaces can easily damage pneumatic tires. This is why solid tire models are so well-liked. They eliminate the need to constantly repair skid steer tires.
However, it comes with its cons as well. Due to their puncture-resistant nature, solid tires are more expensive. Their retail price is higher, but they offer more durability.
Apart from their damage resistance, a solid tire will last about 3-5 times longer than a pneumatic tire. Skid steer loaders will run the same tire set for a longer timeframe, making solid tires more cost-efficient in the long run.
A big negative some owners hold up against solid tires is their lack of suspension. This leads to a rougher performance on hard surface conditions, which can leave drivers feeling beaten up at the end of the working day.
Modern rubber technologies have improved this aspect of solid rubber skid steer tires. These special rubber compounds are able to absorb the driving shock as well as pneumatic tires, resulting in the same smooth ride.
Choose the Right Skid Steer Tire Tread
Skid steer equipment has versatile functions and applications. For this reason, skid steer tires are manufactured with versatile tread depth and pattern. This is to ensure their secure performance on different surface conditions.
Therefore, depending on the job requirements of your skid steer, you might need construction tires, hard surface tires, or turf tires for skid steer equipment - among others.
These tires are categorized into five different groups, based on the performance they offer. Keep reading to learn which are the best skid steer tires for you!
All-Terrain Solid Skid Steer Tires
This is one of the most common skid tires available on the market. They are designed for versatile terrains. However, their potential shines on dirt and slightly muddy surfaces.
Just keep in mind that using this skip steer tire type often on concrete and paved surfaces will cause premature wear. Therefore, it is important that you only purchase these tires if you intend to use them mostly off-road.
When choosing all-terrain solid skid steer tires, be sure to look for one with no center wear bars. Instead, go for a tread design that features angled lugs, which provide the necessary tractions to ensure its performance.
Solid Skid Steer Tires for Hard Surfaces
Skid steer solid tires for hard surface applications fill feature a flatter footprint. By hard surfaces, we mean concrete, asphalt, and paved surfaces, which increase the tread wear rate of any skid tire.
For this reason, tires designed for such surfaces will feature larger, stable elements and secure the footprint, and prevent tread flexing. This is done without foregoing traction, still guaranteeing the skid loader tires' secure performance.
However, if you decide to purchase these concrete tires, be ready to dig deeper in your wallet. These cost more than regular al terrain skid steer tires. Yet, their tread life, and therefore usability, is greatly elongated.
Smooth Solid Skid Steer Tires
Skidsteer tires that feature no tread details what so ever offer the best tread lives. These solid-filled tires completely eliminate the possibility of tread flexing, preventing premature wear from shortening their service life.
However, also due to their lack of tread patterns, these models do not offer the best traction. They should only be used on job sites where traction is not a concern, like demolition and commercial sites, and junkyards.
Solid Skid Steer Tires for Mud Terrain
A high void ratio, angled lugs, and a deeper tread are the characteristics of mud terrain skid tires. These tread elements work together to provide the traction necessary on soft, muddy terrains. The best skid steer tires for muddy surfaces offer consistent forward motion.
Additionally, the high void ratio also keeps the footprint clean of mud, snow, rocks, and other debris from between the rubber tracks. This does not only ensure the tire's maximized damage resistance, but it also helps to guarantee its consistent mud terrain traction.
Turf Skid Steer Tires
Skid steer equipment is also used for landscaping and municipal applications. In these situations, we need to make sure that the tire's traction will not damage the lawn and grass turf on which the vehicle is used.
For this reason, skid steer flotation tires also come with turf terrain tread patterns. The only problem is that these tires should not be used on other surface conditions - as their tread life will be decreased. However, they ensure a secure, turf-friendly performance.
Pick the Right Tire for Your Industry
Choosing the correct skid steer tire set for specific applications is crucial! We cannot stress this enough.
As skid steers can be used with different attachments, it is important that owners know how skid steer tires are expected to perform. Not selecting the correct tires can waste both money and time.
Here's a short list of what you need to look for in different pneumatic and solid skid loader tires:
- Durable models that feature wider footprints for a longer-lasting service life
- Off-road tread patterns to conquer rugged surface conditions
- Solid tires might be better as they offer stronger damage resistance
- Flat-proof tires are a must
- New construction site - get tires with deeper tread to improve traction
- Almost finished site - smoother tread pattern that doesn't leave a mark on the pavement
- Damage resistance is most important due to debris on the driving surface
- Wider footprints and all terrain tread patterns ensure traction
- Hard surfaces require tires that offer a smooth performance
- Flat-proof tires prevent downtime caused by metal, glass, and other debris
- Get tires that are solid; pneumatic tires will get punctures too easily
- All-terrain, pneumatic tires will be enough for dirt terrains
- Possible downtime with pneumatic tires
- When pushing skid steer loaders maximally, get tires that are bonded with the rims
- This will prevent tire and rim separation
The Difference Between Expensive and Cheap Skid Steer Tires
Of course, when purchasing a new skid steer tire set, its price is important. These tires are not cheap! Even models with lower prices cost a lot. For this reason, it is crucial to purchase the correct tires right off the bat!
When shopping for skid steer loader tires, one should not rush into purchasing a set just because it is cheaper. As this blow chart demonstrates, often higher prices tires will last longer. This will make them more cost-efficient in the long run.
Track skid steer loader tire prices with this neat chart:
With skid steer tires the ROI, or return on investment, is what needs to be considered.
Skid steer tire sets need to be used in their intended conditions. Concrete tires will not work on slippery surfaces, while pneumatic tires will wear quicker on hard terrains. Consider what type of skid steer tire you need, before purchasing anything.
Increasing Your Skid Steer Tire ROI
Selecting the correct tire for your skid steer is the first step in optimizing the ROI. The second step is regular tire maintenance.
Tires take up about 20% of the operating cost of a skid steer vehicle. Properly maintaining these tires will significantly lower the amount you have to pay for failing tires. Following a few simple rules with both solid and pneumatic tire models, will help to increase your profit margin.
Check The Tread for Signs of Wear
Inspect the tires you have mounted on your skid steer machines after every use. During your inspection look for any sign of wear, regular and irregular. Tread damage, such as chunks missing, cracking, and tearing, as well as shallow tread depths are signs that the tires may fail soon.
Additionally, if you operate pneumatic tires on your skid steers, look for low air pressure levels. Models that need tire pressure to run properly may show early signs of problems with slow leaks.
Furthermore, due to the pressure placed on them, tires mounted on larger skid steers will need replacing sooner - compared to models on smaller machines.
Reduce Tire Damage
Removing any unnecessary weight from the tires helps protect them from structural and tread damage. This will help you improve their longevity.
If you use a counterweight on your skid steer, remove it when it is not necessary. This will minimize the strain the tires are facing during their regular operation.
Furthermore, we have mentioned this before, but selecting the correct skid steer tire type is important. Off-road tires should not be used on paved surfaces, and vice versa. Doing so will shorten their usability by accelerating tread wear.
The skid steer tire load index rating should also be considered. Like all tires, skid steer models also have specific load durabilities. Exceeding them will lead to tire failure sooner or later. Choose heavy-duty tires for such tasks to ensure their performance and driving safety.
How Much does a Skid Steer Weight?
An average-sized skid steer equipment vehicle weight about 7,500 pounds. However, the total weight will significantly depend on the make and model you are purchasing.
How to Foam Fill Skid Steer Tires?
To fill skid steer tires with foam, remove them from the vehicle and place them on the floor (be sure to cover the floor). Drill three holes into the sidewall the same size as the foam filling straw and take out the valve stem. Inject the foam in one of the holes, you will need about 520 lbs. Fill the tire until foam comes out of the other holes. Set the tire aside for 24 hours. The next day you will be able to remount the tires.
How to Put Tire Chains on a Skid Steer?
Putting tire chains on a skid steer is a multi-step process. You need to detangle the chains and lay the chain beside the tire. Lift the chain over the tire and adjust the chains to sit by the sidewall. Attach the hooks to the chain and rotate the tire (drive backward) to bring the rest of the chain onto the tire. Faster everything and you are done.
How to Make Tires Flat Proof?
You can purchase flat proof skid steer tires online. These models are either foam filled or solid, which maintain the ideal tire shape without air pressure. These tires are manufactured for heavy-duty use on aggressive surface conditions, their external damage can easily shorten the tires' service life.