How to operate a skid steer

Skid steers, also called skid loaders, skid steer loaders or SSLs, are small machines with lift tools on each side and can feature a wide variety of attachments. Skid steers operate on either four wheels or two tracks.

What is a skid steer used for?

Skid steers can be used for a number of different tasks, including digging, construction work, landscaping, clearing snow and roadwork.

This is because skid steers can be equipped with a number of attachments. Buckets help with picking up and moving material, as well as grading the land. These are perfect for excavation work.

For projects like deep digging, backhoe attachments are helpful. Bale spears are used to carry large round or square bales of hay.

In short - a skid steer can be used for many different farming and construction projects.

How to start a skid steer

After entering the cab of the skid steer, sit comfortably in the seat and put the safety belt and overhead safety bar on. Make sure you can reach all the controls. Check the area around the skid loader to make sure there’s no obstructions around that will be an issue when you start the skid steer. Check that the machine is in park mode, and turn the key to start the engine. The key is usually located in the upper right corner of the skid steer.

Before you get moving, turn the parking brake at the top of the cab off.  Your safety belt and overhead safety bar need to be in place before you’re able to turn the brake off.

How to drive a skid steer

Skid steers are unique in that they’re operated by two different joysticks. However, what these joysticks are used for differs depending on the make and model of skid steer.

Most skid steers are driven using dual arm controls - the right joystick moves and turns the skid steer right. The left joystick moves and turns the skid steer left. Pushing both controls forward moves the skid steer loader forward, while moving them back moves the skid steer in reverse.

In these types of skid steers, foot pedals operate the boom and attachments.

With single arm control skid steers, one joystick controls all movements, while the other controls for operating the boom and bucket/other attachments.

Moving the boom/bucket joystick to the left digs with the bucket, and moving it right dumps the bucket. Pushing the joystick forward raises the boom, and pulling it back lowers the boom.

Do you need a license to operate a skid steer?

You do not need a license to operate a skid steer in the United States. However, that doesn’t mean that anyone can do it. Anyone operating the skid steer should have an understanding of the skid steer loader’s controls and make sure to follow all the safety practices.