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Compare Leasing vs Buying a Skid Steer Loader Costs

Leasing Skid Steer Overview

Due to the high cost of skid steer loaders, many companies choose to lease the machines, rather than buy them outright. Leasing requires little or no money upfront, and payments are spread over a period of years - usually three to five. When the lease term expires, you can purchase the machine, trade it in for a newer model or simply return it.

Cost of Leasing a Skid Steer Loader

The cost of leasing a skid steer loader depends on the value of the machine, the length of the lease and your credit rating. With good credit, expect to pay about $450 to $500 per month to lease a $20,000 machine for five years. The same machine, leased for three years, would run about $700 to $750 per month.

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For a $30,000 machine, budget about $675 to $725 per month for five years or $1,000 to $1,050 per month for three years. Keep in mind, however, that prices vary from dealer to dealer and in different regions of the country.

Leasing a Skid Steer Loader Pros

  • Upfront cost - Leasing requires little or no money down. It’s a great option if you’re short on cash or need to preserve capital for other expenses.
  • Fewer credit restrictions - Leasing companies are willing to work with people who have less than stellar credit, although you will have to pay more per month. Purchasing a skid steer loader can be difficult if you have a poor credit history.

Leasing a Skid Steer Loader Cons

  • Long-term cost - Leasing is always more expensive in the long run than buying outright.
  • Lack of ownership - With a lease, you’re essentially borrowing a skid steer in exchange for a monthly fee. The machine never actually belongs to you. In some cases, you may not have a say in when or how often the machine is serviced.
Leasing vs Buying a Skid Steer

Buying a Skid Steer Loader Overview

Skid steer loaders are four-wheel-drive vehicles capable of hauling and pushing heavy loads. The machines are known for their maneuverability, versatility and compact size. They’re used in a variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing and landscaping, and for all sorts of tasks.

Skid steer loaders can be adapted for a variety of uses simply by switching the attachment. Attach an auger for digging, a plow for snow removal, a bucket for hauling or a pallet fork for lifting - to name just a few. The machines can make hairpin turns in and out of tight spaces because the wheels function independently of one another.

You’ll often hear skid steer loaders referred to as a “Bobcats.” However, Bobcat is just one of many major manufacturers of skid steer loaders. Technically, the terms are not interchangeable.

Cost of Buying a Skid Steer Loader

Skid steer loaders are expensive pieces of equipment, ranging in price from about $15,000 to $50,000. A machine with a 1,350-pound load capacity might sell for $17,000 to $20,000, while a 1,600-pound capacity machine might go for $18,000 to $22,000. Heavy-duty skid steers sell for as much as $30,000 to $50,000.

Attachments are usually sold separately, and they can quickly increase the purchase price. Simple buckets go for about $1,000, while attachments like augers and pallet forks sell for up to $3,000. Complex attachments such as backhoes and hydraulic hammers can cost as much as $10,000 to $20,000.

Skid steers usually do not come standard with a cab enclosure and heating system. Budget up to about $2,000 extra to add those features.

Buying a Skid Steer Loader Pros

  • Ownership - When you buy a skid steer loader, you have total control of the machine. You decide when and how often it is serviced. You decide when to sell it. No one else is making those decisions for you.
  • Long-term cost - Buying a piece of heavy equipment is almost always more economical in the long run than leasing. If you can afford to buy, that’s the best option.

Buying a Skid Steer Loader Cons

  • Upfront cost - Even if you finance a skid steer loader, you’ll have to make a significant downpayment. You’ll need to have some cash on hand at the time of the purchase.
  • Depreciation - Skid steer loaders tend to depreciate significantly in the first few years of ownership. With a lease, you don’t have to worry as much about depreciation because the machine can be traded in for a newer model after a few short years.

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