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What Is a Tractor-Loader-Backhoe?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A tractor-loader-backhoe is a multi-function piece of heavy machinery often used at construction sites and other industrial settings. It is essentially a large tractor that features pneumatic tires in most cases, with a backhoe attachment mounted to the rear of the tractor. A loader bucket is attached to the front of the vehicle, which makes the tractor-loader-backhoe a versatile machine that can handle a number of heavy duty jobs. An operator will sit in a specially designed cab to control the loader and the backhoe, though both units are usually not used at the same time.

Within the cockpit, a specially designed swiveling chair allows the user to access different controls for the different functions of the tractor-loader-backhoe. When facing forward, the user can drive the vehicle as well as operate the bucket loader function. When facing backward, the vehicle will be stationary and the user will be able to control the backhoe functions. While in this position, the user will also be able to control the outriggers of the tractor-loader-backhoe. These outriggers are hydraulically controlled arms that can be lowered into position to help stabilize the machine when the backhoe unit is in use. These outriggers can then be raised when the backhoe unit is not in use and the tractor needs to move forward or backward.


The bucket loader feature of the tractor-loader-backhoe can be used while the unit is stationary or while it is in motion. This wide bucket can be placed low to the ground to scoop materials, and the hydraulic arms of the bucket can be raised to load that material into a dump truck or other receptacle. The bucket loader attachment can also be used as an additional stabilizer when the backhoe is being used; this means there are several points of contact when the backhoe is being used, between the outriggers, tires, and bucket loader attachment.

As with other similar machines, the attachments on a tractor-loader-backhoe are often interchangeable. The backhoe unit, for example, may use a large bucket for digging — this is the most common configuration — but other attachments can be used to break up concrete, haul items, and so on. The bucket loader attachment can also be replaced with other specialty attachments designed for specific jobs. In many cases, the tractor-loader-backhoe will feature quick-coupling designs that allow the buckets and other attachments to be interchanged quickly and easily while on a work site.

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