Worst Skid Steer Brands To Avoid – The Worst of The Bunch

Skid steer loaders, often called skid steers or simply loaders, are versatile machines used in construction, agriculture, and landscaping. They allow the operator to attach various blades, buckets, bale spears, and other implements for specialized tasks.

With so many skid steer brands on the market, it can be tricky choosing the right one.

While industry leaders like Caterpillar, Bobcat, and John Deere generally manufacture reliable machines, even they have some models plagued with issues. Other lesser-known brands may look enticing due to lower prices, but poor quality control can lead to a host of problems down the road.

As a buyer, it pays to know which skid steer brands consistently underperform so you can avoid them. This guide takes an in-depth look at the worst skid steer brands based on durability, safety, operator comfort, and overall customer satisfaction.

We’ll examine why these brands miss the mark and highlight better alternatives.

Brands To Avoid For Durability Issues

Skid steers operate in harsh conditions and under heavy loads. As such, durability is paramount. Brands that cut corners during manufacturing put operators at risk of breakdowns, costly repairs, and poor resale value. Here are some notable names to avoid due to chronic durability problems.


Terex Skid Steer

Terex has assembled a broad lineup of construction equipment since acquiring American tractor company Fermec in 1998.

Their skid steers fall under the Terex Fuchs brand. Issues include:

  • Frequent hydraulic system failures, including blown hoses, leaking cylinders, and pump problems
  • Electrical components prone to faults, including dash display, fuse box, and alternator
  • Underpowered engines struggle under load

Many Terex models have no cabin air filtration, subjecting operators to dust, debris, and fumes. Expect higher than average maintenance costs if you purchase this brand.


Doosan Infracore, part of the large South Korean conglomerate, produces a wide array of construction machinery including excavators, loaders, forklifts, and skid steers. Reliability concerns with their Bobcat knock-offs include:

  • Hydraulic pumps and wheel motors fail prematurely
  • Leaking hydraulic hoses and cylinders
  • Wear parts like cutting edges don’t last as long as competitors
  • Operator cabs are prone to cracking under strain

Service can also be an issue, as dealer networks are still developing for the relatively new Doosan brand in North America.


Case Skid Steer

Case Construction Equipment descended from the venerable J.I. Case agricultural company founded in 1842.

They manufacture a varied selection of machines including compact track loaders, mini-excavators, tractor loaders, and skid steers.

Unfortunately, many Case skid steer models suffer from:

  • Hydraulic system issues like failing pumps, control valves, and cylinders
  • Electrical problems including faltering ignition switches, wiring harnesses, and instrument panels
  • Durability concerns with axles, bearings, and boom arms

Case arguably has more skid steer model numbers than features. Many units are just “rebadged” designs from other brands with minimal changes. Stick to other manufacturers if durability is a top priority.


Gehl Company dates back to 1859, known for agricultural equipment and compact machines. Manitou Group purchased them in 2005. Gehl skid steers sometimes suffer from:

  • Hydraulic leaks from pumps, valves, cylinders, and hoses
  • Cab frames prone to cracking under strain
  • Premature wear on axles and bearings
  • Inferior paint jobs lead to quicker rusting

Consider other brands if you need a skid steer capable of high-duty cycles over many years.


Japanese manufacturer Takeuchi entered the North American market relatively recently, in 1986. Their skid steer and compact excavator designs often feature:

  • Hydraulic hoses made from subpar materials, prone to bursting
  • Hydraulic pumps and motors known to fail without warning
  • Electrical wiring harnesses plagued by shorts and loose connections
  • Cab frames that easily bend or buckle when overloaded

Takeuchi loaders can seldom match the durability of Caterpillar or John Deere models, for example.

Brands That Compromise Operator Safety

Another vital factor is operator safety. Inferior designs or poor stability can cause accidents, injuries or worse. Certain brands cut corners on safety features and visibility to lower costs. Here are some to avoid:


Boxer Skid Steer

Boxer compact equipment originated in 1977 in Northern Ireland.

Chinese company Shandong Shantui Construction Machinery acquired them in 1996.

Boxer skid steers often lack basic safety essentials like:

  • No seat belt or retractable seat belt
  • Open cab designs with no door, exposing operator
  • Poor visibility to sides and rear from small cab openings
  • Limited stability from narrow track width and high center of gravity

With minimal protection for rollovers or falling objects, Boxer loaders are best avoided.


Missouri-based Swinger Loaders have a cult following due to their unique pivoting frames. But niche designs mean compromises in key areas:

  • No seat belts provided on most models
  • Open operator station allows debris to strike operator
  • Poor visibility for material handling duties
  • High risk of tipping during heavy loads or high reaches

Unless you absolutely need a pivoting loader, choose a regular skid steer for safety.


Yanmar is well respected for agricultural tractors and diesel engines. But we don’t recommend their skid steers, with shortcomings including:

  • No seat belt or operator restraint system
  • Open cab with no door leaves operator vulnerable
  • Narrow wheelbase impacts stability under load
  • Limited lift capacity for size makes tipping more likely

There are better options than Yanmar for safe material handling.


ASV SR70 Skid Steer

Originally named All Seasons Vehicle, this Minnesota company was bought by Terex in 2008. Many ASV skid steers have:

  • Unprotected operator cab lacks falling object protection
  • No seat belt provided on smaller models
  • Cramped footwell area raises leg injury risk
  • Poor visibility to sides and rear
  • High center of gravity decreases stability

ASV skid steers are best suited for grounds maintenance, not heavy construction duties.

Look For Safety Features

When researching skid steer brands, look for important safety essentials:

  • ROPS protection: Roll-over protective structure should be standard
  • Seat belt: Retractable 3-point belt increases safety
  • Cab door: Encloses operator compartment from debris
  • Guards: Look for falling object, lift arm, and drive chain guards
  • Wide stance: Ample width and wheelbase add stability
  • Low profile: Centers gravity nearer the ground

Don’t compromise on safety – choose a loader that protects operators.

Brands With Inferior Operator Comfort

Given the demanding nature of skid steer operation, comfort is crucial for productivity. An ergonomic workspace minimizes fatigue and injuries over long shifts. Unfortunately, some brands overlook comfort to cut costs. Here are the worst offenders:


German company Schäffer Maschinenfabrik has built agricultural and industrial loaders since 1949. Their minimalist skid steers lack niceties like:

  • No sound insulation results in very loud operation
  • Limited or no ventilation options for hot conditions
  • Tight footwell area restricts movement
  • Hard vinyl or cloth seats increase fatigue
  • Poor visibility from small cab openings

Unless you rarely operate a loader, avoid Schäffer models.


This Finnish manufacturer specializes in mini skid steers under 2,000 lbs. Drawbacks include:

  • No suspension on seats increases vibration exposure
  • Open footwells allow dust, water, and debris inside
  • Cramped foot room for larger operators
  • Limited elbow room in narrow cabs
  • Poor hydraulic controls ergonomics

Consider Kubota or John Deere for better comfort in mini skid steers.


As mentioned for safety, Yanmar skid steers come up short on comfort:

  • Exposed operator area allows dust and noise influx
  • Non-suspension vinyl seat causes fatigue
  • Tight cab dimensions restrict larger operators
  • Poor climate control options for heat or AC
  • Rudimentary hydraulic controls

Yanmar is much better suited to tractors than skid steers.


Spartan cabs on Boxer loaders mean minimal comfort:

  • No sound insulation or dampening
  • Exposed operator area allows dust, debris, and weather inside
  • Non-suspension cloth or vinyl seats increase vibration exposure
  • Limited climate control for heat or AC
  • Cumbersome hydraulic controls design

Boxer cut every corner possible – including comfort.

Prioritize Ergonomics

When researching brands, prioritize these comfort features:

  • Spacious cab: Look for ample foot room and elbow clearance
  • Ergonomic controls: Intuitive joystick and switch placement
  • Suspension seat: Reduces vibration and shock loads
  • HVAC system: Heating and cooling for any weather
  • Low noise: Sound insulation for quiet operation
  • Entry/exit: Convenient 3-point door access

Don’t settle for an uncomfortable machine – proper ergonomics make a big difference in productivity and reducing injuries.

Consider Resale Value

Skid steers represent major capital investments. Choosing a brand with strong resale value down the road is wise financially. However, some brands struggle to maintain value due to reliability problems or lack of customer awareness. Here are the worst for depreciation:


Doosan skid steers lose value quickly. Contributing factors include:

  • Lower brand recognition in North America
  • Concerns about Chinese-made components
  • Durability issues hurt longevity
  • Small dealer network limits customer access
  • Parts can be expensive due to lack of third-party suppliers

Unless found at a steep discount, consider more established brands.


Though owned by Terex, ASV skid steers also struggle to retain value:

  • Niche brand lacks awareness amongst buyers
  • Safety concerns due to open cabs
  • Durability issues exist on some models
  • Limited dealer representation across North America
  • Resale values suffer when Terex releases updated models

Keep searching if resale value is paramount.


Since being acquired by Manitou Group, Gehl skid steers have declined in value:

  • Brand recognition has suffered over time
  • Ongoing reliability problems noted earlier
  • Dated designs and technology
  • Parts can be expensive due to lack of third-party options

Gehl simply doesn’t have the same cachet with buyers as John Deere or Caterpillar.


Terex Skid Steer

Like ASV, Terex skid steers also see below average resale prices:

  • Terex brand lacks prestige and awareness
  • Ongoing hydraulic and electrical issues
  • Narrow regional availability through dealers
  • Cheap interior materials show wear quickly
  • Parts can be expensive due to lack of aftermarket alternatives

Terex models often sell at 20-30% discounts to comparable machines.

Seek Strong Resale Brands

To maximize investment, stick with skid steer brands that retain value such as:

  • Caterpillar: The gold standard – Cat loaders command premium pricing
  • John Deere: Another leading brand that holds value over time
  • Bobcat: Strong brand power even if resold without attachments
  • Case: Despite some reliability concerns, Cases sell well on brand name

Avoid lesser-known brands – the upfront discount often disappears when it’s time to sell.

Recommended Skid Steer Brands

Now that we’ve covered the brands to avoid, here are some better options to consider:

  • Caterpillar: The industry leader – outstanding across all metrics
  • Bobcat: Excellent durability and strong dealer support network
  • John Deere: Top-notch fit and finish with excellent warranties
  • Case: Solid performance if purchased at a discount
  • New Holland: Reliable designs benefit from ag heritage
  • JCB: Excellent visibility and safety features
  • Takeuchi: Compact and maneuverable loader for tight spaces
  • Kubota: Reliable mini and compact skid steer range

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which skid steer is most reliable?

The Caterpillar skid steer range consistently earns the highest marks for reliability and durability. Other top brands include Bobcat, John Deere, New Holland, and Kubota mini skid steers.

Are Caterpillar skid steers reliable?

Yes, Caterpillar skid steers are widely considered the most reliable models across the industry. Cat continuously leads in owner satisfaction surveys while maintaining strong resale values. Their excellent dealer network also provides support for parts and service.

What is considered high hours on skid steer?

Skid steers are generally designed to last up to around 5,000-8,000 hours before requiring major repairs. Usage under 3,000 hours is considered relatively low. Models with over 10,000 hours begin exceeding realistic lifespans.

Which skid steer has the best resale value?

Caterpillar consistently leads in best resale value, with certain models only depreciating 20-25% after several years. Other brands with above average resale value include John Deere, Bobcat, and Kubota. Lesser known brands drop in value more quickly.

Closing Remarks

Focus your search on major companies with proven reputations. Try taking models for test drives to gauge comfort and capability. If still unsure, purchase from dealers that allow no-hassle returns within a reasonable trial period.

Avoid impulsive purchases at equipment auctions.

With proper research, you can invest wisely in a skid steer brand that provides years of productivity. Just steer clear of underperforming brands prone to problems. Your back and wallet will thank you!

Ralph Wade

Hey...Ralph is here! So, did you find this article useful? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. If not, please tell me how I can improve this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. Take love :)

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