Taking wide turns instead of skid steering and turning around right on the spot will help minimize undercarriage wear and disturbance to the surface under the machine, he says.
If a customer is working on hard surfaces and then going over curbs, Ross says you'll want to talk about how to approach a curb: perpendicular and slowly.
"Sometimes customers have a tendency to get into a rush and they'll run the machine right over the top of the curb," he says. "That puts a lot of pressure on the tracks and the rollers and could damage the undercarriage."
Bobcat offers instructions and information for renters on its Rental Condition & Delivery Report for Compact Excavators. Rental companies can download the form free of charge at Bobcat.com and duplicate it as needed. Using the form to inspect the condition of a machine when it goes out and when it comes back can minimize any questions that might arise about the condition of the machine later on, he adds.
Pay attention to tension
Anyone operating a compact track loader should know how to properly adjust the tracks. Track sag or tension should be checked daily or weekly (about every 50 hours), depending upon manufacturer recommendations.
"A rubber track system that gets too loose can cause the machine to 'detrack,' in other words, the rubber separates from the undercarriage," Zupancic says.
On the other hand, he says, operating with the rubber tracks on too tight could result in operating inefficiencies - robbing horsepower, burning more fuel, increasing component wear or causing failures.
Track tension usually can be adjusted in a couple of minutes on John Deere models, Zupancic says. "When you have to adjust the track tension, all you need is a grease gun," he explains. "If you have to reduce the tension, a crescent wrench will suffice to turn the grease cylinder zerk counter-clockwise..."
Keep it clean
Compact track loaders are great for use on soft material like dirt and mud, but debris can get packed in the tracks and that can cause trouble. To avoid problems with tracks and prevent debris from getting into other areas of the machine, rental personnel should explain to customers that tracks need to be kept clean. Mud should not be left to dry and bake in the tracks, nor should be allowed to freeze in the tracks.
Every day, dig out mud from tracks, Zupancic recommends. Using a shovel, some compact track loader owners can spend up to an hour per day on this task, he says, so owning a machine with easy undercarriage cleanout is important.
Keeping tracks clean minimizes some of the track wear. When tracks get plugged up with material, the machine needs more power and more fuel.
"It's more efficient to make sure the machine is cleaned on a regular basis," Fitzgerald says.
Manufacturers are always looking at ways to make equipment longer lasting and easier to maintain and clean. One relatively recent change, Ross points out, is that many manufacturers have been locating filters remotely for easier access.
Another helpful feature is automatic shut-down. If there's a loss of engine oil pressure, the engine overheats or if the engine water level is low, the engine will automatically shut down, alerting the operator that there's a problem. Warning lights get ignored, Ross says, but no one can ignore an engine shut-down.
To help monitor the number of hours a machine is used and maintain regular maintenance intervals, as well as locate machines on jobsites, more companies have been offering GPS, Ross adds.
Looking ahead, Zupancic says you might see compact track loader undercarriages offer auto-lube and auto-track tensioning systems so customers don't have to worry about these tasks.
Regardless of how technology changes, some things will remain the same. "If you maintain a machine regularly and consistently, you're going to have a good machine, and the machine will last longer and perform better," Ross says.
As with many relationships, what you invest, you will receive in return.