Wheeled Excavators vs Tracked Excavators: Pros and Cons.

Wheeled Excavators vs Tracked Excavators: Pros and Cons.

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No machine will likely ever compete with an excavator’s prowess for digging power, but on today’s worksite an excavator is often more than just a dirt digging machine -- it’s a versatile, tech-smart and tool-rich specialist. With the right set-up and the right operator an excavator can perform a plethora of unique jobs. If you’re looking to expand on your excavator workload, one of the first things you might be wondering is: tracked excavator or wheeled excavator?

If you’re at that point in your research, we’ve put together this short article and infographic to hopefully help you along the decision tree.


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Traditionally, why do excavators have tracks instead of wheels?

Tracks on any machine result in a lower profile making the machine closer to the ground and lowering the center of gravity. In situations where the ground is uneven or highly sloped or you’re working on loose gravel or soil the advantages of tracks are clear.

What are the advantages of a wheeled excavator?

Wheeled excavators are growing in popularity, year after year. When compared to the same sized tracked excavator a wheeled excavator offers more maneuverability in tight areas, faster movement across a work site, and less impact to the work ground.

4 Fast Factors to Consider — Tracked Excavators vs Wheeled Excavators

Tough Terrain or Ground That Needs a Lighter Touch

Simply put, the tracks on a tracked excavator come into contact with a large amount of the ground. If the ground is sloped or loose, that’s an advantage. If the ground needs to be protected -- like a city street or sidewalk -- the tracks can lead to damage and ground repair costs.

Size of the Job Site

If packing up one job on the site and getting to the next quickly is important, a wheeled excavator will get from job A to job B faster. If the excavator will mostly be working in one area, the increased depth of the dig and stability can help knock out the single job faster.

And, if the job site is actually spread across multiple locations, many wheeled excavators can fold up and hit the road for a faster trip without another machine to carry them along. 

Size of the Excavator

If you need to balance stability, ground concerns, and maneuverability, you might want to also consider the size of your machine. A smaller, tracked excavator -- or even a machine with rubber tracks -- can often perfectly balance your needs.

Type of Work

Trends aside, the world will probably always count on a tracked excavator for the tough digging jobs in rough conditions. Wheeled excavators, however, are often used on a site like a Swiss army knife with fast connections to specific tools and news uses like moving and placing heavy barriers or using job-specific tools.


In the end, your excavator choice will come down to your work, your needs, and maybe even a little personal preference. Hopefully, this article helped you narrow it down, and, regardless of your choice, if you find yourself needing a part, we’re here to help with your construction equipment parts needs.

An infographic explains the difference between tracks and wheels.
A fast, printable rundown for comparing tracks and wheels. Click image to view full size or ⇩ Download Infographic