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Bulldozer vs. Wheel Loader: What Are the Differences?

Bulldozer vs. Wheel Loader: What Are the Differences?

Deciding between a bulldozer and a wheel loader is sometimes a tough call. Both machines provide capable material handling, but they have some key differences. As a result, the type of project you’re working on will determine which of these pieces of equipment you should choose.

In this guide, we talk about what bulldozers and wheel loaders are, the key differences between each machine, and how to determine which one you should choose for your project.

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What Is a Bulldozer?

Bulldozers are heavy machines that are specialized for pushing, digging, excavating, and leveling soil and debris. What they lack in terms of maneuverability, they make up for in their earthmoving capabilities. Bulldozers come in different sizes and types—such as the crawler or mini bulldozer. No matter the size, they provide the heft necessary to move large quantities of material.

what is a bulldozer

Best for:

  • Pushing large amounts of material
  • Digging projects
  • Excavating earth
  • Leveling soil
  • Landscaping
  • Moving debris

What Is a Wheel Loader?

Wheel loaders are heavy machines that load and carry materials like sand and large rocks from one spot to another on a job site. Wheel loaders are also called front loaders, front-end loaders, payloaders, and loading machines.

what is a wheel loader

Not only can you find multiple types of wheel loaders—like the familiar backhoe loader and skid steer—-but they also come in different sizes. From a large construction project to a small residential job, you can find just the right fit, whether you need a large wheel loader or a compact wheel loader, to get the job done right.

Best for:

  • Transporting raw materials
  • Rehandling objects to minimize loading cycles
  • Placing loads into other vehicles
  • Clearing rubble
  • Laying pipes
  • Digging
  • Snow removal

What Are the Key Differences Between Bulldozers and Wheel Loaders?

As you can see, both of these pieces of equipment do similar tasks, but they have some significant differences you should be aware of that can help you decide which is best suited for your project.

bulldozers or front loaders

Wheel Loaders Use a Large Bucket, While Bulldozers Use a Heavy Metal Plate

Bulldozers rely on the heavy metal plate or blade—whether you use a straight blade, universal blade, or another bulldozer blade—that acts as a scraper in front to move material along the ground. This allows bulldozers to push and dig through materials while putting the weight of the machine behind it. The wheel loader, on the other hand, has a large bucket located at the front of the machine that it uses to collect and transport materials.

Wheel Loaders Are Best for Transporting Materials

Because bulldozers are meant to push material and can’t pick anything up, they don’t work for transporting materials. Because the wheel loader uses a bucket, it can haul large materials like rocks or debris, as well as rehandling objects to minimize loading cycles. The bulldozer, on the other hand, should be used for projects that involve grading, leveling surfaces, or demolishing.

Wheel Loaders Are Pricier Than Bulldozers

Renting a bulldozer is cheaper than renting a wheel loader. The former costs between $1,300 and $2,000 per week, while the latter costs $1,700 to $3,500 per week. Keep in mind that the pricing may vary depending on the size, horsepower, operating weight, and how long you will need it for.

Bulldozers Have Less Mobility

Bulldozers operate on tracked tires, which make it great for getting traction on a job site but greatly reduce its mobility. There are wheel dozers, but the majority of them come on tracks. Wheel loaders, on the other hand, have wheeled tires that give them greater versatility and the ability to move loose material around the job site more quickly than a bulldozer.

Bulldozers Can Navigate Through Irregular Terrain

A construction site can include some tricky terrain, and that is one area where the bulldozer excels. Their tracks may limit their mobility, but the tradeoff is that it allows them to handle rough terrain. You can also add modifications like rippers in the rear to help them break down rough terrain. Wheel loaders, on the other hand, work better on soft, level terrain as they present a tipping risk if driven up hills or on unstable terrain while hauling material.

How to Choose Between a Bulldozer or Wheel Loader

As you can see, both types of heavy equipment have their advantages and drawbacks. Bulldozers are suited for some jobs, while wheel loaders are best for others. Your choice will depend entirely on the project it will be used for.

The bottom line: If land clearing or leveling power is what you need, go with a bulldozer, but if you need to haul several tons of material at once, choose the wheel loader. If you’re interested in renting a bulldozer or wheel loader, there are several different options to choose from when renting equipment from BigRentz, whether you want a Caterpillar or a John Deere model.

If you need a dump truck, a backhoe, or some other type of heavy-duty construction equipment, we can help with that, too. Contact us today and we’ll help you make the best choice for your next job.

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