excavator concrete breaker

5 Secrets You Will Not Want To Know About Giant Wheel Loaders

Giant wheel loaders, sometimes called ultra class loaders, are the monsters of the loader world. Weighing over 100 tons with powerful engines and massive buckets, these machines take on the biggest earthmoving, mining, and material handling jobs.


Giant wheel loaders, sometimes called ultra class loaders, are the monsters of the loader world. Weighing over 100 tons with powerful engines and massive buckets, these machines take on the biggest earthmoving, mining, and material handling jobs.

You may picture giant loaders effortlessly scooping, lifting, and moving mountains of material. But behind the scenes exist a few shocking secrets about operating and owning these mega machines. Before investing in a giant loader, here are 5 eye-opening facts you likely do not want to learn but probably should be aware of.

Extremely High Cost

Giant Wheel Loaders

Giant wheel loaders represent one of the largest capital investments in equipment a company will make. Top-tier giant loaders like the Caterpillar 994 or Komatsu WA1200 retail at $800,000 to $1 million plus. Even used ultra class loaders run $500,000 minimum.

The sheer size and capacity comes at a price – most smaller businesses cannot afford to run these monsters. And the scary truth? The sticker price is only the beginning of your financial misery….

Outrageous Operating Expenses

You need some really deep pockets to feed and run a giant wheel loader everyday. Fuel consumption alone will ransack your bank account.

Machine ModelFuel Use Per Hour
Caterpillar 99460-80 gallons
Komatsu WA120048-65 gallons
Liebherr L58640-55 gallons

With diesel prices fluctuating around $5 per gallon, plan on a fuel bill exceeding $300 per hour! And we have not even touched repair costs, tires at $50k per set, or insurance premiums. Is your wallet running away screaming yet? If not, it will once you operate one of these beasts for a week.

Special Transportation Logistics Required

First challenge – how do you transport a 170,000 lb loader to a job site? These giants exceed regular road regulations, requiring special trailers and permits costing thousands per haul. Jobs will stall if your giant loader stays stuck in the yard because you lack proper transportation.

Delivery logistics also hamper machine performance. Something as simple as a flat tire takes days to replace given the unique equipment requirements. Expect monster headaches if you ever need to send a giant loader in for off-site repairs. Do you have contingency plans and equipment backup? You better.

Higher Maintenance Requirements

Given their sophisticated systems and tight operating tolerances, properly maintaining giant wheel loaders is vital and extremely expensive. A site filled with steep piles of debris will stall a malfunctioning loader, halting operations.

Routine preventative maintenance for giants includes:

TaskFrequencyAvg. Cost
Engine overhaul12,000 hours$95,000
Hydraulics service500 hours$18,000
Suspension rebuild1,800 hours$42,000
AC system evac & recharge1,000 hours$4,500
Change tires5,000 hours$120,000

Think you can skip a few PM services to pocket some cash? Not unless you want a 500 ton paperweight. Maintenance cannot lapse on these machines. Are your technicians really equipped for this work?

Safety Hazards Magnified

The extreme power and mass associated with an ultra class wheel loader magnifies risks if hazards exist on the jobsite or operators lack sufficient training. Simple driving errors can cause tip-overs or crushing injuries and deaths around these trucks.

Vital safety management practices like hazard analysis, load charts, strict traffic rules, right-of-way procedures, and proper load placements become exponentially more important on sites with giant wheel loaders. One wrong move leads to catastrophe given their immense kinetic energy. Things can go terribly awry unless everyone remains vigilant.

Conclusion: Giant Wheel Loaders

Giant wheel loaders excel at high-volume earthmoving applications. But as outlined above, hidden realities beyond their brute strength can challenge businesses trying to utilize these machines. Their costs, logistics needs, maintenance demands, and hazards require serious consideration before purchase. Nonetheless, giant loaders provide productivity on the right job. Just know their capabilities come with proportional headaches most owners fail to anticipate. Hopefully this peek behind the curtain of secrets better prepares you for the realities of giant wheel loader ownership.


Q: What size loader bucket can giant wheel loaders handle?

A: Buckets on giant wheel loaders typically range from 18 to over 50 cubic yards capacity. Larger buckets become extremely heavy and unwieldy for the machine. Custom buckets exceeding 70 cubic yards start to reach feasibility limitations.

Q: How long do giant wheel loader tires last on average?

A: Tires on giant loaders generally last 4,000-8,000 hours depending on use factors. Retreading extends usefulness closer to three times that duration. Still, tire expenditures run tens of thousands over a machine’s lifetime.

Q: Why does transporting giant loaders require special permits?

A: Giant loaders exceed road bans for axle loading without a special heavy haul permit. Overweight fine avoidance and requirements to display oversize load signage mean transportation needs permits.

Q: What qualifications should giant wheel loader operators have?

A: Extensive full-sized loader experience and hazard avoidance skills are mandatory. Giant wheel loader training certification is becoming an industry standard best practice before allowing operators to run ultra-class models independently. Poor judgement leads to astronomical damage and threats around these trucks.

Q: How long do giant wheel loader engines usually last before overhaul?

A: Approximately 12,000 hours is the typical service lifetime of a giant loader’s diesel engine and overhaul including rebuild or replacement becomes necessary at that point. This still costs around $100,000 in parts and labor.

Update cookies preferences