How to Drive a Skid Steer Loader

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A skid steer loader is a machine used in many farm and construction tasks. It has lift arms that can have different devices attached to them, from buckets to pallet forks to snow blowers. The skid steer has separate drive wheel controls, meaning the wheels on the left side are controlled separately from the wheels on the right side. This feature gives it great maneuverability, allowing it to do complete turns in tight spots for example. It also requires that the operator know the basics of operating it. Driving a skid steer well takes practice, but there are a few basic steps that will get you on your way. Some models of skid steers use hand controls to operate the bucket, but the directions that follow are for the models that use foot pedals.

Locate the control arms and foot pedals inside the skid steer cabin.

Push both control arms forward to move the skid steer forward.

Pull back on both control arms to move the skid steer backwards.

Push forward on the left lever and pull back on the right lever to turn the skid steer to the right. The sharpness of your turn will be determined by how far back you pull on the right hand lever.

Push forward on the right lever and pull back on the left lever to turn the skid steer to the left.

Press your left toes on the front of the left foot pedal to lower the bucket.

Press your left heel on the back of the left foot pedal to raise the bucket.

Push your right heel against the back of the right foot pedal to use a scooping or upward tilting action on the bucket.

Press your right toes against the front of the right foot pedal to dump the contents of the bucket while it is raised.

Lower the skid steer bucket and arms and turn off the engine before exiting the cab of the skid steer, even if you are getting out for only a second.


Before operating any skid steer, study the owner's manual and user guide to become familiar with that model's controls. Always fasten your safety belt when operating a skid steer, as they can easily flip in rough terrain.


Do not overload the bucket of a skid steer, as this can cause it to tip forward. Read your operator's manual for limits on load weight.