Caterpillar Undercarriage: Choosing the Right Tracks for Your Machine


Caterpillar dozer customers work in a variety of applications, and that is why Caterpillar offers more than just their General Duty undercarriage; they also offer a heavy-duty undercarriage and their unique SystemOne undercarriage.

When purchasing an undercarriage (or selecting a machine for a job site/application), you don’t want to choose one that can’t perform optimally in the environment in which it is working, because the machine will break down more frequently and have performance issues. You also don’t want to select one that is overpowered or oversized for your project, because you increase your operating costs for the same production and will therefore make less money than if you had chosen an undercarriage that is less performance driven.

How do you choose the right one?

Cat General Duty (GD) undercarriages balances performance with value. These grease lubricated tracks are designed specifically for use in low- to moderate-impact applications.

Cat’s Heavy Duty Extended Life (HDXL) undercarriage is designed for severe applications and demanding terrain. A larger diameter bushing combined with its track roller and sprocket segments creates a link assembly with more wear material and longer life on tough jobs. The undercarriage can live 20 to 40 percent longer than the GD undercarriage, says the company.

Cat’s SystemOne features a unique rotating bushing that allows center tread idlers and sprocket segments to be used over the life of two undercarriage systems. Components are designed to work and wear as a system for a more balanced wear life. SystemOne outperforms Heavy Duty undercarriages in nearly all applications, greatly reduces maintenance requirements and significantly increases wear life.

Now that you know the general differences between the undercarriage options, you can use these eleven criteria for determining which is best for your jobsite.

The first four criteria have to do with undercarriage costs and time used.

  • Purchase price

Purchase price is always a factor and the lowest price is the winner. Predictably, the GD undercarriage has the lowest price followed by the HD undercarriage. This is the only criterium in which the GD undercarriage is the top candidate.

  • Ownership period

The longer you own a machine, the more important it is to have an undercarriage that will last. Here, the order reverses the list from above; SystemOne is the best choice here, followed by the HD undercarriage.

  • Owning and operating costs

Owning and operating costs encompasses purchase price, maintenance costs, shipping costs, and all other costs associated with the undercarriage for as long as you own it. Here, SystemOne, although it has a higher purchase price, can have a lower owning and operating costs. The HD undercarriage comes second.

  • Machine utilization

Similar to long ownership periods, high machine usage will put greater demands on the undercarriage than one that gets used less frequently. Again, Cat ranks the SystemOne as the best candidate for this criterium, followed by the HD undercarriage.


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The next four criteria focus on the environment in which the undercarriage will be used.

  • Abrasion

Working in more abrasive materials will increase wear and potentially damage undercarriages. Perhaps surprisingly, the SystemOne is ranked as the best followed by the HD undercarriage.

  • Impact

Working on hard, rocky conditions can really beat on your undercarriage. Select the HD undercarriage for the best results or the SystemOne for applications that aren’t quite as impactful to the undercarriage

  • Moisture

As moisture increases, wear typically decreases. Again, the SystemOne is best for working in moisture followed by the HD undercarriage.

  • Packing

For heavily packed material, an HD undercarriage is best followed by the GD undercarriage. Packing and purchase price are the only two categories in which the SystemOne ranks third.

The next three criteria are about machine characteristics.

  • Machine weight

Heavier machines need heavier undercarriages. It comes at no surprise that the HD undercarriage is ranked as best followed by System One.

  • Shoe width

Increased shoe widths generally demand non-standard undercarriages. Again, the HD undercarriages functions best with increased shoe widths, followed by System One.

  • Grading

Dozers perform a lot of grading, and some undercarriages operate better in grading applications than others. In this category, Cat’s SystemOne is ranked as best followed by their HD undercarriage.

By examining these criteria, dozer owners, equipment purchasers and fleet managers can purchase or deploy the machine with the best undercarriage for the jobsite.

Searching For Heavy Equipment Parts?

We specialize in undercarriage and complete components for excavators, dozers, crawler loaders, and wheel loaders.

Searching For Heavy Equipment Parts?

We specialize in undercarriage and complete components for excavators, dozers, crawler loaders, and wheel loaders.

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