Track Excavators vs. Wheel Excavators

Construction Excavators

To determine what type of excavator is best for a project, one must consider what the machine will be used for and the terrain on which it will operate.

  • Track Excavators – These excavators are designed for high-production digging. Their position on tracks makes them extremely stable. As well as increasing the traction, grousers give track excavators a larger footprint and contact area than wheeled excavators. In tracked models, the undercarriage is also very substantial, so the machine is more stable. In addition, tracked models have a lower center of gravity than wheeled models. These factors make track excavators more powerful than wheeled excavators. Additionally, crushing, sheering, and hammering attachments can be added for demolition and quarry work.
  • Wheel Excavators – Excavators on wheels are much more versatile than tracked models. Wheeled excavators use a quick coupler and attachments to perform a wide range of tasks, including digging, tree removal, cutting asphalt, moving concrete barriers, and cleaning ditches. Though they do not have the enormous digging capacity of tracked excavators, wheeled excavators are much more maneuverable and can work in places that tracked machines cannot. Due to their ability to travel on roadways and hard surfaces without causing damage, wheeled excavators are ideal for use in urban settings requiring travel over paved roads. Additionally, even though wheel excavators sit higher, stability is not a problem. A wheel excavator can be just as stable as a tracked model with its outriggers deployed and blade on the ground. The higher center of gravity may cause stability issues when the terrain is steep.

Transportation and Operating Costs

Wheeled excavators are able to travel over paved roads, so they are more productive than tracked excavators, which require a heavy-duty truck or trailer to transport them. Wheeled excavators can travel up to 22 miles per hour without damaging the roadways, while tracked excavators can only go 4 to 6 miles per hour and cause damage to hard surfaces and paved roads. Moreover, even though wheel excavators generally have a higher upfront cost, they have lower long-term operations costs. It costs less to replace wheels and brakes than undercarriages of tracked machines, they last longer, and they are easier to replace.

What is the best option?

Wheel excavators are extremely versatile machines that are capable of handling a variety of tasks and maintain low operating costs.  An operator in an urban setting or with a limited budget can invest in one single machine that is both powerful and versatile. If high capacity digging is needed in an unpaved area, tracked excavators are the best option.

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