Best Ways To Operate A Skid Steer Loader In 2022

HIXEN workshop of skid steer loader


Knowing how to operate a skid steer loader is not that difficult. Skid loaders are rigid-frame, small, engine-powered machines with a lift arm that can be attached to many buckets, tools, or attachments. There is no steering mechanism for skid steer wheels. Wheels are in a fixed position in a straight line relative to the figure of the machine.

The machine turns left and right by dragging and skidding its wheels across the ground. Skid steer loader can be used in various applications and save you cost and money. These compact loaders can be found on most construction sites. Learning how to operate your skid steer loader can be a little complicated if you haven’t used it before.

operate a skid steer loader

A skid steer loader can weigh as much as a small vehicle. It is small but powerful and mighty. Skid steer’s compact size makes it a popular choice for diverse projects. These can be used to dig up landscaping materials or grade the land, hauling debris or materials.

Skid Steer loader can be used for DIY home projects and commercial jobs. After some practice, you can learn to operate it easily. This article will teach you how to operate your skid steer loader. 

Learn The Skid Steer Controls 

Basic controls of skid steer loader depend upon which skid steer loader you are using. Some of the basic controls are given below.

Starter Control Process

Starter controls of skid steer loader are usually of two types depending upon the type of skid steer. Sometimes a keyless button named start is available; pressing this will start your engine. It is located in the top right corner of the cab. Other times it is ignited by a key, just like a car. 

safely operating machinery such as skid steers using operator's manual

Automatic Lockout System

Skid loader has a parking brake system which is very useful when parked on slopes or hilly areas. When you start, your engine’s automatic lock-out system is still on. There will be toggles or buttons that you need to switch on to switch off the parking brakes. You must fasten your seatbelts and check your overhead safety locks before turning off your parking brake.

Steering Joysticks/Levers

The main switches to control your skid steer loader are two-hand joysticks. These are on the left and right sides in front of the operator and foot pedals. Some operations done by left and right joysticks are given below:

Left joystick Driving controls   

  • To drive your skid, steer forwards and push forward your joystick
  • For reverse pull back your joystick
  • To turn left, move your joystick to the left and vice versa for moving to the right.
control levers lift arms using safety precautions or safety device

Right joysticks for boom and bucket attachments

  • To raise your boom, pull back on your joystick.
  • To open your bucket, move your joystick to the right side.
  • For closing your bucket attachment, move your joystick to the left side.
  • If you want to lower your boom downwards, push your right-side joystick forwards.

Monitoring Gauges and Features

Your skid steer loader should be equipped with the following control and gauges.

  • Fuel Gauge: It tells us about the amount of fuel that is available in your fuel tank 
  • Engine Coolant Temperatur Gauge: Coolant temperature can be indicated 
  • High Flow switch: For attachments that require high power and a high flow rate to operate high flow switch is used.
  • Auxiliary Hydraulic Override Switch: To operate auxiliary hydraulics even after exiting the vehicle and stop the hydraulic flow to handle the attachments.
  • Parking brake indicator: When the parking brake is engaged red light indicator is displayed.
  • Water-in-Fuel Indicator: This Indicator alerts if any amount of water is found in the fuel system.
  • Hydraulic Oil Temperature indicator Hydraulic Red light indicates that your oil temperature is very high; in this case, stop using your machine.
  • Hydraulics OFF indicator: When Hydraulics are disabled red light is turned on. 
safety tips are essential for operator's seat or flat metal bar and bucket controls on job site

Start The Skid Steer Loader

Before entering your skid steer loader, ensure your attachment is lowered to the ground. Else it will be difficult to open the door and get inside it. Here are some safety steps before starting your skid steer loader.

  • When you are about to enter your machine, face yourself toward it. Grab the supporting bars with both hands and then go up the steps. After going inside, close the door. 
  • When you are inside your cab, adjust your seat accordingly so that all of your control can easily be reached for better controlling your machine.
  • When seated, buckle up your seatbelt and pull down your overhead safety bar. Lock your safety bar. Skid steer loaders will not start unless you have fastened your seat belt and safety bar.
  • Insert the key into the ignition or press and hold the start button. This button is located on the top right corner of the cab to start your engine.
rubber grip  parking brake set  loader pointed uphill safety instructions for occupational safety

Traction Lock Override System Disengaging

After you have fastened or secured your seat belt and safety lock system, switch off your parking brakes.

  • By pushing the red parking brake button, disengage your lockout system. 
  • The Red P light should be switched off.

Raising Or Lowering the Boom

Raising and lowering your boom is a good practice before going anywhere with your skid steer loader. 

The right-side joystick is used to control the bucket and boom. Steps to raise or lower the boom are given below:

  • Your boom will be raised from the ground by pulling the right-sided joystick backward.
  • By pushing your right-sided joystick, the boom becomes lower to the ground. 
carry loads close for operator's station heavy equipment

Scooping and Dumping The Controls

After you have practiced raising and lowering your skid steer loader boom, now is the time to learn about dumping and scooping controls.

  • Moving your right-sided joystick to the right will open up your bucket.
  • For closing the bucket, move your right-sided joystick to the left. 

Turning Left Or Right

To turn left, push your left joystick to the left side. Push the left joystick to the right side to turn your skid steer loader to the right side. By pushing your left joystick forward, you will go in that direction.

  • Push your left joystick to the left side if you want to turn left.
  • Push your left joystick to the right side if you want to turn right.
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Scooping the Material

If you practice all the controls mentioned above, you are ready to use your skid loader to scoop up materials. For this process, your boom should be low to the ground when reaching the pile.

  • If you want to drive your skid steer loader to the pile, use the left joystick and stop when you have reached the material pile.
  • To drop your bucket and boom to the ground level, push your right-sided joystick forward to lower your bucket in front of the pile. The bucket’s front blade should be flat on the ground.
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  • To drive forward and scoop the pile, you need to position your skid steer in front of the pile. Move your right-sided joystick to the left to close your bucket and scoop up the material. 
  • Pull the left joystick to reverse from the pile when the bucket is filled with material.
  • Pull your right-sided joystick to a safe carrying height for raising the boom. Loads should be carried close to the ground but high enough to clear any obstacles. If loads are carried too high, your skid steer loader can easily tip off.

Dumping The Material

When your bucket is filled with material, it is time to dump it. To get a feel for the machine, it is good practice to scoop and dump the same pile.

  • To drive to the dump side, use your left-sided joystick. 
  • Position your bucket in front of the dump pile.
  • To lower your boom, push the right-sided joystick forward.
  • To dump your material, move your right-sided joystick forward and then to the right to lower the boom and open the bucket to dump material.
  • To curl the bucket back in, move your right-sided joystick to the left.
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What Are The Safety Measures To Run A Skid Steer Loader

No matter which construction equipment you are using, safety is always important. Not considering the safety measures can prove to be dangerous and even fatal. The same is the case for skid steer loaders. Rollover accidents and crushing are the two most common skid steer loaders accidents. But we can avoid it by following some easy safety measures. 

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The safety measures for a skid steer loader are as under:

  • No matter which equipment you use, checking your surroundings before starting is important. 
  • You should never overload the bucket. Otherwise, it will add too much weight to your skid steer loader. 
  • You should always carry loads to the ground in a skid steer loader. 
  • When you are done using your skid steer loader, you should turn the engine off. 
  • Secure overhead safety and seatbelts when using the skid steer loader. 
  • Inspect your machine for damaged parts or oil leakage before you use it. 
  • You should never lean out of the cab while your skid steer operates. 
  • Don’t work under a raised skid steer bucket, as it may fall and cause death or fatal injuries. 


Operating your skid steer loader is not rocket science if you know how to do it correctly. This article has highlighted the best tricks and tips to operate your skid steer loader. But you must know that equipment quality also plays a huge role in its operations. Contact Us now if you want to purchase the best skid steer loader from a Chinese manufacturer. 

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