Wheel Loader Purchasing Guide | Introduction to the Wheel Loader Buying Process

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Author : Nico
Update time : 2022-03-22 15:02:12

Modern wheel loaders provide a wide range of productivity improvements for a growing number of industries. From recycling, snow removal and landscaping to construction, material handling and mining, its classic designs include front loader shovels. But it can also be fitted with a mast forklift or grab to service multiple different tasks in a single job.

Popular manufacturers include John Deere, CAT, Ingersoll-Rand, JCB, Komatsu, and New Holland. In addition, nearly 40 brands around the world offer new or used wheel loaders -- many of which seem to have focused their recent production on fuel efficiency and productivity, and some even offer hybrid models.

This purchasing guide will cover trends, specifications, types and accessories that are popular for recent and upcoming models to help you choose the right type and size for your work site or fleet. But choosing a machine is not the first step.

Step 1: Find a reliable dealer

While the information below will provide a solid understanding of the wheel loader itself, it is best to start with a qualified dealer who can help match your needs with that particular machine.

Considering the cost of the machine itself, not to mention after-sales service and maintenance, working with a reliable dealer can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the machine. Here's what you should be aware of when comparing wheel loader dealers:

After-sales support

Purchases of this size are usually not one-offs. Most wheel loaders come with optional aftermarket service. It usually includes emergency repairs and routine maintenance, both of which are provided by the dealer and specified in a Service level agreement (SLA). We cannot emphasize the importance of this step too much. Wheel loader support is a key component in extending the life of the machine, minimizing downtime, and ensuring that the machine itself runs as economically and efficiently as possible in compliance with all EPA guidelines.

In particular, look for the following details in the SLA:

Name brand parts: Parts used for maintenance and repair should be specified, preferably name brand parts. If the major component is not available, the SLA should also mention any replacement.

Service intervals: Frequency of standard maintenance (basic maintenance), extended maintenance (full maintenance, including all operating systems), and full maintenance (covering everything from loader shovels to rear bumpers). It will also list all associated labor and component costs.

Customer Support: THE SLA lists business hours and after-hours emergency availability numbers for support staff. If the dealer does not provide 24/7 service (some not on weekends and holidays), make sure the SLA includes a response time guarantee for the next business day.

Warranty: all parts and labor should be covered.

Location: A dealership 50 miles or less from your location is preferred. A subcontracted service technician in your area is a comparable substitute.

Instruction/Safety training: Although not all dealers do, most major dealers offer some type of instruction in machine operation and basic safety training. There are many specialized schools dedicated to the same goal, but if your dealer offers it and will offer it on-site, it can be used as part of a cost-saving and very valuable employee training program.

Can the dealer help fulfill the work site requirements?

We'll cover the new Tier 4 engine in more detail in the next section. But now, knowing that they are a standard concern for almost every non-road diesel engine operating on the job site today. This is another area where a professional loader dealer can help steer you in the right direction. Ensuring compliance with all OCCUPATIONAL Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, resellers can provide guidance on the best course of action specific to your job site type and size of equipment, and may even provide the contacts needed to obtain the necessary approvals from utility providers or local regulators.


With the rising cost of new machines and strict enforcement of environmental regulations, many businesses and individuals are turning to other ways to finance their loaders, including leasing and used machines. But before we get into the specifics of who buys what, let's look at what's driving the change.

Layer 4 engine

Some of the EPA's regulations are often daunting. This makes perfect sense if you have a large fleet spread across multiple work sites. However, the Tier 4 engine is more than a flash in the pan. They aim to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) produced when diesel engines are running. In doing so, the machines operate with cleaner emissions, protecting the environment and even curbing some of the health-related risks associated with working around toxic gases. In short, how the technology works.

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is introduced into the exhaust system, where it becomes ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Since nitrous oxide is produced by an engine, it reacts with ammonia and carbon dioxide to form an environmentally safe mixture of water and nitrogen, which can then be released into the air. It is this enhancement, along with other systems outside the engine, that increases the cost of the new loader. At the same time, however, these same upgrades have led to improvements in productivity, noise levels, diagnostics, and other cost-saving operational considerations.

A recent Cummins engine, for example, uses 5% less fuel with the Tier 4 Interim 6.7-litre QSB. The manufacturer tested two wheel loaders side by side. In fact, engines with Tier 4 engines perform better than Tier 3 engines, with shorter test cycles due to "faster engine response to load."

Purchasing trend

Because of engine improvements to Tier 4 models, the new models cost more than before, now between $86,000 and $245,000. This large expenditure has led businesses (large and small) as well as individual contractors, landscape designers and similar industry professionals to look at the rental market as a way to equip their workplaces -- whether they are in the single-wheel loader market or entire fleets.

Purchasing Network recently conducted a survey to better understand the motivation factors of those interested in heavy equipment, particularly wheel loaders. We analyzed more than 71,000 inquiries between 2011 and 2014 and found that one of the main concerns people have about new devices is productivity-boosting technology.

Check wheel loader rental prices and rates.

In the course of our research, we found that buyers started asking for more new equipment. In particular, the popularity of new loaders rose by 5%. This increase can be attributed to Tier 4 engines entering the market, as all new equipment with diesel engines purchased after 2012 must meet EPA standards.

But a request is not the same as an outright purchase.

Our research also found that many businesses lease entire fleets, with dealers reporting demand in the number of rental units from 2011 to 2014. Overall, heavy machinery rents rose 75 percent from 2013 to 2014 alone, while wheel loader rents soared 273 percent during our survey period.

It is worth noting that the global recession may also have affected sales of new machinery, during which time new construction will grind to a halt. However, as the industry in the United States continues to rebound, rental units remain a popular choice for many buyers because they offer the latest technology without much upfront cost.


Again, there is no substitute for a professional dealer. He or she will eventually give you the most effective advice, specific to your workplace. However, familiarizing yourself with the information below will give you a brief overview of some of the most common aspects.

When comparing wheel loaders, please note:

Emissions ratings

Almost every machine of this size you buy today must contain a temporary Tier 4 emission certification engine. But what if you buy used? Starting in 1996, level 1 to 3 emission standards were gradually introduced on a horsepower scale ranging from 11 HP to 750 HP.

The first level of standards was gradually introduced from 1996 to 2000; Level 2 from 2001 to 2006; Tier 3 from 2006 to 2008. Any used wheel loader you buy from a dealer should meet the above requirements.

Consider buying a used wheel loader.

Load and bucket capacity

Wheel loader is a kind of heavy machinery, so the first consideration when buying is the load and bucket capacity of the loader. In this category, there are actually two specifications to consider: bucket capacity and water inrush. Bucket capacities range from 0.65 cubic yards of material to 32 cubic yards.

Breakout force is the amount of force the loader can apply in a "squeeze back" or "roll back" operation (for example, pulling out trees or large stumps). It does not represent total improvement. On average, you'll find breaking force between 9,000 and 47,000 pounds.

Tipping load

This is the red line. That's where you can get into trouble, and that's where you want to avoid. That's why it's another major consideration to take into account your intended use and the needs of the workplace. Most wheel loaders offer two specifications for tipping loads, straight and full turn.

For tilting loads, the capacity range is between 8100 LBS. About 56,000 pounds. The full tip load starts at about 7,200 LBS. It's usually around 48,000 pounds.

Tire size

Most wheel loaders have tires designed for use on uneven and rough terrain. As a result, they have different tread depths, allowing the operator to walk through sand and loose dirt with the same ease as handling piles of recycled items or other trash.

Wheel loader tires, often referred to as electric grader tires or bias tires, can be 48 "to 63" in diameter and 12 "to 24" in width, with tread depth up to 28(32 inches) on the lighter side and 39 inches on the heavier side.

When trying to pair a tire with a loader, first determine the tire range the machine will support. The tires are then purchased by analyzing the numbers on the side walls.

How to read the tire sidewall of a wheel loader: let's take a tire designated "17.5x25," a common size for many wheel loaders. The first number (17.5) is the width of the tire in inches. The second number (25) is the wheel or rim diameter.

The weight

Although not always a consideration, some work sites are located on or near artificial turf or expensive ground, as well as paved, brick or even granite roads. In these cases, certain heavy machinery can cause costly damage within the workplace or on the way to and from the workplace. So again consult your dealer about possible weight limits associated with your project. Operating weight is expected to be between 12,000 and 75,000 pounds.

Choose a dealer

As mentioned above, wheel loader manufacturers tend to favor a specific model or size when designing. This trickles down to dealers, who may also specialize in specific machinery or industries. Not only is there no limit to this kind of specialization, but it often brings huge benefits to you as the buyer. It allows dealers to effectively consult your specific needs -- even for a single job -- and provide a wheel loader accessory that can save countless hours a year.

So when you compare wheel loader dealers, keep the following aspects of service in mind to ensure you find the best fit for your overall needs.

Establish record

Wheel loaders are a major purchase, even if rented or leased. So a dealer who has been in business for 10 years or more may be more reliable than an upstart. During this time, professional resellers have built some key relationships between technical support staff and third-party service agencies -- all of which add value to your service level agreements (SLAs) and reduce service and repair costs and turnaround times.

One of the easiest ways to find a dealer who specializes in loaders (or your industry) is through referrals. Whether offered through your own industry contacts or professional services, this can save you a lot of time and even more guesswork.

Once you have your list, give preference to companies that have a solid track record of wheel loader sales and rentals, whether they offer multiple brands or represent a single manufacturer. These types of dealers are preferable because they tend to have a greater degree of first-hand knowledge about the application of machinery and its accessories. They may even offer more competitive prices.

Question: How long have you been doing this and can you provide some references for others who have similar needs?

The service level agreement (SLA) offered by a quality wheel loader dealer should be all-inclusive. But holding them accountable to this is your responsibility. The line items that appear in the SLA will directly affect the return on your investment for the
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