If your skid steer gets stuck in mud or snow, you have a few options to get it out. You can tow it out with another vehicle or equipment like a tractor. Another option is to use the bucket attachment to wiggle the skid steer out of the muck. If you have a cable or strap, you can attach it to a tree and use it to pull yourself out.
In this post, we explain different skid steer recovery techniques and how to go about them.
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Getting Your Bobcat Unstuck
Option 1: Tow It Out
Towing is a quick and easy option, as long as you have a truck or heavy equipment like a tractor that can tow the weight of the skid steer. You’ll also need to be able to access the skid steer. If it got stuck somewhere another vehicle can’t reach, consider other options.
Use a tow strap or cable with the proper weight rating to attach the truck to the skid steer. Have the driver slowly pull the cable taut while you try and steer the skid steer out of the mud.
If you don’t have a vehicle or a tractor that can pull out the skid steer, the other option is to call a recovery company.
This will cost you, and we recommend trying the other techniques below before resorting to professional recovery.
Professional recovery is ideal if the skid steer is stuck in a really bad place that you can’t get it out of on your own such as a steep slope.
Option 2: Using The Bucket
Your skid steer has powerful hydraulics that you can take advantage of to get it unstuck. In fact, the next two recovery techniques below will rely on the skid steer’s hydraulics.
The bucket technique works for mild situations where you are stuck in shallow mud, soil or snow. If your wheels or tracks are almost fully buried in mud, check the next options below.
Making sure your parking brake is off, curl the bucket downwards such that the edge sticks into the ground. Then, curl the bucket upwards while at the same time driving the skid steer in reverse.
The bucket will help push the skid steer back and out of the mud. Repeat as many times as you need until the skid steer is free.
You can see a demonstration of this technique in the video below.
Do not try to pull yourself forwards using the bucket, What this usually does is raise the front of the skid steer, but you won’t go anywhere. The wheels will just spin.
Option 3: Using a Tow Strap
This is another good option if you are alone out there and can’t get a vehicle to tow you out. It’s also a better technique if you are in a deep ditch or mud and the bucket method won’t work.
You’ll need to find a thick tree nearby. Tie one end of a two strap or cable around it and the other end to the towing eye at the front of the skid steer. Before you attach the strap, lower the bucker and pass the strap over it. You want the bucket to pull on the strap as you lift it.
Get into the skid steer and turn off the parking brake. Slowly lift the bucket while at the same time steering the skid steer forward. This should lift and pull on the strap, which in turn pulls the skid steer forward.
Go slowly, lifting the bucket bit by bit. If, after lifting the bucket to the maximum height you are still not out of the mud, retighten the strap and repeat the process until you are clear.
You can see how this recovery method works in the video below.
The main downside with this method is that it’s slow. It’s also hard to pull the skid steer to the side instead of forwards.
Sometimes, going to the left or right is what will free the skid steer. But with a tow strap and tree, you’ll only be able to go forward.
If you need to pull yourself to one side, use the next option below.
Option 4: The Pulley Method – Tow Strap & Snatch Block
If the only way to get the skid steer unstuck is to pull it to the right or left, your best option is to make a pulley using a cable or tow strap and a snatch block.
The beauty of a pulley is that it doubles the amount of pulling force exerted onto the skid steer, making it easy to pull it out of a deep ditch, mud or snow.
The first step is to identify a thick tree in the direction where you want to pull the skid steer towards. Run a strap or cable to the tree and secure it around the base.
Next, attach the snatch block to the towing eye of the skid steer. Make sure you point the snatch block in the direction of the tree so that you can easily run the cable through it.
Pass the cable or strap through the snatch block and attach it to the skid steer’s boom that goes up and down when you are raising and lowering the bucket.
The bucket, or rather the hydraulics, will do all the work for you.
Get into the skid steer and take the parking brake off. Now, slowly raise the bucket so that it pulls on the cable.
The pulley system should start shifting the skid steer in the direction of the tree. Occasionally, you may need to stop the bucket and move the skid steer forwards or in reverse. As soon as you are pointed the right way, steer the skid steer forward to get it fully unstuck.
Here’s a helpful video showing this technique.
The main downside of this method is that you need to have the right recovery equipment with you all the time.
If you don’t have a snatch block or a long enough cable, it won’t work. If you are close to home, you can leave the skid steer and run to a nearby store to get the snatch block and cable.
Know The Limits of Your Skid Steer
Because of the conditions a skid steer is often used in, it’s inevitable that it’ll get stuck now and then.
Even if you manage to recover it every time, it’s still wasted time and effort. To reduce how often you get stuck, understand the limits of the skid steer.
Know what kind of mud the skid steer can handle or how deep the snow has to be to be an issue. Be careful not to get into ditches and ruts that are too deep for the skid steer to get out of.
Wheeled skid steers are especially vulnerable to getting stuck in mud, snow or wet grass. But a track loader also has its limits. The tracks can easily get stuck in deep mud.
If you have a wheeled skid steer, you can improve its capability by installing rubber tracks over the wheels when working in dicey conditions like soft soil or muddy ground.