How to Drive a Backhoe


A backhoe looks basically like a tractor with a loading bucket on the front and a boom and bucket on the back. To drive a backhoe, however, it's a little more complicated. There are certain things you have to remember whether you're driving in a field or on a public road.

Things You'll Need

  • Backhoe Owner's manual, possibly
  • Walk around the backhoe and make sure there are no people, pets or obstructions in the way. After your safety check, climb up into the driver's seat. Adjust the seat and steering wheel so you can comfortably reach the controls. Insert the key into the ignition and start the backhoe up. If the engine hasn't been run in awhile, allow it to idle for about 10 minutes.

  • Familiarize yourself with the controls while the engine is warming up. Locate the double brake pedals and the accelerator on the floor. Find the gearshift and the forward and reverse drive lever. To drive a backhoe, you'll also need to locate the levers that lift and curl the front bucket.

  • Turn the seat around so you're facing the rear of the backhoe. The longer controls operate the boom and the bucket. Make sure the bucket is completely curled in toward the backhoe. Make sure the boom is raised up, positioned in the center, and pulled back against the backhoe.

  • Locate the shorter control sticks that raise and lower the stabilizers. Make sure the stabilizers are all the way up before you drive the backhoe.

  • Turn the seat back around. Lift the front loading bucket so it's off the ground a few feet. Make sure it's not so high that it interferes with your visibility. Make sure it's not so low that it touches the ground. Hop off the backhoe and drop the transport locking pin into place on the front bucket.

  • Climb back into the seat. To drive the backhoe, put your foot on the brake pedals and shift it into gear. Push the forward and reverse lever in the direction you want to go. Release the brakes and push the accelerator pedal to drive the machine.

Tips & Warnings

  • Backhoes have two brake pedals--one for the left rear and one for the right rear. They're used individually to make tight turns. Always use both brake pedals when you're driving a backhoe on a roadway. Pay attention to the height of the backhoe boom so it doesn't hit overhead wires, overpasses, tree and other obstacles. Always drive a backhoe up and down on sloped ground. Never drive across slopes or the machine could tip over.

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