How to Operate a Skid Steer (Basic Controls)

13 July 2021

how to operate a skid steer

Skid Steer loaders are one of the most versatile machines you can use on any residential or commercial earthmoving project. They have more than enough power to deal with any project requirements you have.


Now you may be thinking, ‘Well that’s great and all, but how do I operate a hand and foot control skid steer?”


Our video on our YouTube channel demonstrates exactly how to operate Toyota Huski 5 SDK5 Skid Steer if you're a more visual person.

How to Operate a Skid Steer

In this blog, we will be stepping you through how to operate a Skid Steer safely and effectively to complete your project.

  1. When sitting in the machine, you’ll find two steering handles, one located on each side armrest of the machine. 

  2. The ignition turns on with a key, turn to the left to preheat the engine (approx 20s), then turn to the right to start. 

  3. It also has safety switches on the left-hand side that you must engage before operating. The blue switch is pushed to operate, and the red switch is your hand break.

  4. Start the engine, push both safety switches and look for a throttle handle beside the seat on the right-hand side, with a slot to slide forward and backward in. There is usually a turtle image on one end of the slot and rabbit on the other. Turtle moving faster, Rabbit slower.

  5. This skid steer is controlled by both foot and hand controls. The hand controls steering and acceleration while the foot controls the boom and bucket or attachment.

  6. Use both the forward handles to travel forward. 

  7. To reverse, pull the handles back.

  8. The left lever and right lever will control the direction of the machine.

  9. Pushing only the right stick will steer the machine to the left. Pushing on the left lever will steer the machine right.

  10. If you move each joystick slowly and at the same speed, you will move smoothly in a straight line. 

  11. To control the bucket, use the pedals at your feet. The left pedal will move the arms up and down, and the right pedal will tip the bucket forward. To bring the bucket back, press the back of the right foot pedal.

  12. Before exiting the skid steer, ensure you have switched the engine off and applied your break.


Bonus Tip. The self-levelling option


If you want to level the area you are working in; you can also use the set levelling option. 

To engage this setting, push the left foot pedal forward until you hear it click. Once you hear that click, you will know that the bucket has been locked into position, and you can start to self-level. 

To disengage the bucket, click the left foot pedal back until you hear it click off again.


The steps above relate to Toyota Huski skid steers; however, depending on the size of your skid steer, there may be a few more steps required.

Looking for attachments or plant hire? Sweeney Hire have you covered!

At Sweeney Hire, we supply a range of plant hire, excavation services and attachment hire to help assist your next tight access excavation or hardscaping project across South Perth. We never waiver from providing quality equipment and services that you can rely on, which is why our equipment is serviced every 250 working hours. Get in touch or fill out our online form to discuss your next project. 
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