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Tim Forestell
August 7, 2019

Wheeled excavators are growing in popularity.

This increasing popularity is because of the mobility, urban-friendly use, and productivity of a wheeled excavator. However, there is a time and place for tracked excavators over its wheeled cousin. If you are trying to decide if tracked or wheeled is best for a project there are a few things to consider. Knowing the nature of the project and what is required of the machine will help drive an informed decision to ensure a more efficient and economical use of your time and money.

6 Things to Consider When Choosing Between a Tracked and Wheeled Excavator

1) The Terrain

Tracked excavators are better for soft, uneven land and hills. Wheeled excavators do have stability arms and the dozer attachment to provide stability while working but the track provides even weight distribution while driving. The tracked excavator has a lower centre of gravity, making it better for work on hills or steep terrain. If the site is particularly rocky, tracks won’t be punctured by uneven stone, rocks, or raw materials in certain worksites.

For road, urban, or bridge work, wheeled excavators provide a transportation and road friendly alternative. They can drive themselves from site to site and are safe to operate on finished pavement without worrying about damage to asphalt or concrete. With universal attachments they are capable of the same kind of tasks as tracked excavators and provide the same level of lifting and digging power.

Tracked excavators are best used for uneven and soft terrain like dirt or gravel.

2) The Stability

Wheeled and tracked excavators are comparable in stability while working. The wheeled excavator uses outriggers on the machine help to keep it stable. Additional stability is given when an equipped dozer attachment is lowered. 

3) The Nature of the Job

Tracked excavators are great on sites where protecting the terrain isn’t a concern. They are a powerful tool for pioneering new ground, clearing and digging. 

If you’re looking for a more versatile and powerful tool carrier than a backhoe while working on paved or urban areas, then wheeled excavators are more efficient.

Image of wheeled excavator

Wheeled excavators provide a road-friendly alternative for municipale work. 
Photo borrowed from Equipment Journal

4) The Transportation

Tracked excavators require more care and in some cases an additional piece of equipment to move them off site. If it is a long-term job with less need to move equipment off-site, then tracked may work well. 

Wheeled excavators work well if you want to move equipment between sites to minimize downtown, especially if the equipment will need to drive over city roads. The dual hydraulic boom allows for the arm to be fully retracted for greater visibility while driving.

5) The Size

Both wheeled and tracked excavators are available in different sizes. No matter if you choose tracked or wheeled, it is always important to make sure that you get the right size of machine for your job. If you aren’t sure what size would work best, someone from the DOZR sales team can help give you some recommendations. 

6) The Budget

Wheeled excavators can be more expensive upfront than tracked. However, when looking at long-term maintenance wheeled excavators cost less. Their undercarriage takes a lot less damage, is easier to change parts out, and the wheels and brakes last longer and are less expensive to replace. 

Wheeled can also be harder to find when looking to rent because they aren’t currently as popular. With increasing popularity, they may become more available in the rental market. On average renting is about 30-40% more expensive than tracked. We can only speculate whether this will go down if there is more availability on the market. This is why knowing your project and requirements of your machine is so important. 

Image of tracked excavator

Mini or compact excavators are great for projects in small or residential spaces. Mini and compact excavators are available fitted with either wheels or tracks. 
Whatever size of project or budget you’re working with, there’s the right kind of equipment just waiting for you. 

As has been explored, the wheeled excavator is much better suited for specific jobs. If it will take twice as long to do the job with a tracked excavator, then allocating the budget to rent the better piece of equipment may be safer, more efficient, and a better use of money in the long run. 

Whether you choose a tracked or wheeled excavator for your job, or trying to find the perfect type of heavy equipment rental for any job, be sure to take time and care to make it an informed decision with safety and efficiency in mind. 

View equipment rental options for both wheeled and tracked excavators near you on DOZR.

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Tim Forestell
Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish.
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