Whether you are getting your equipment ready for the season or just as part of your regular maintenance, checking the tires on your equipment should be part of your routine. This is not only to avoid headaches with tire failures, but can affect your productivity and bottom line $$$ !
Tractor & Farm Tire Maintenance Checklist
Always Check for Proper Inflation of Tires
The most important aspect of proper farm tire maintenance is to check that your tires are properly inflated. Properly inflated tires reduce fuel consumption, field time and soil compaction.The USDA Agricultural Research found that properly inflated tires generate nearly 25% more pull than tires inflated at higher pressures. Proper inflation will also reduce the degree and depth of soil compaction. Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires have developed a mobile app for managing proper inflation while in the field. Many farm tire manufacturers have also followed suit, so be sure to check the manufacturers guidelines and see if they have technology in place to monitor tire pressure.
Visit Tire Manager in the Apple Store or Google Play for Android Users. Proper air pressure is based on load and will vary when you change field activities.
Check for Cracks
Sunlight and extreme temperatures- both hot and cold, can cause cracks in the sidewall of your tires. While the rubber compounds used to manufacture tires have anti aging compounds in them, exposure to elements will cause the rubber to lose some of it’s elasticity, causing cracks in the surface. Driving on under inflated tires can also cause cracking.
Look for Signs of Premature Wear
Over and under inflation can cause premature wear in the tread. Over inflation will cause the center of the tread while under inflation causes the shoulders to wear.
Check for Damage to Sidewalls and Stubble Damage
Stubble damage will be in the center of the tread if stalks puncture the tires. Check sidewalls for scuffs, chips and punctures. Also look for chips in the lugs of the tire.
Check for Liquid Calcium Leaks at the Valve Stem
Leaks at the valve stem could indicate the tire tube is failing. Generally this will also show signs of rust. This is usually a sign that it is time for a rim repair and possibly a new tube.
Checks for Signs of Rusting
Rusting rims in tube type tires, or even tubeless tires as well if they are filled with liquid ballast are a sign that your tires may need repairs. As soon as air hits liquid calcium it will rust. As mentioned above, signs of rusting can indicate that it may be time for a rim repair or a new tube.
Check Tread Depth
Unlike car tires that have a tread depth standard for safety, tread depth requirements for tractor tires will vary depending on tire type- front tractor, rear tractor or implement tires will all have different requirements for proper traction. The best way to determine if tread wear is an issue is by the performance of your tires in the field. Loss of traction/wheel slip is the best indicator that tread wear may be an issue.
Evaluate Need for Replacement
Aside from obvious damage, there are a few other factors to consider when you are trying to decide if you need to replace your tractor’s tires. Wheel slip should be a major consideration. While many newer tractors have built in wheel slip indicators, an older tractor will be tougher to determine. You may need to rely on your experience as an operator to evaluate. Look at how far dirt is pushed backward by the lugs in the tire tracks while the tractor is under load. While any slip at all is a waste of energy, look to your manufacturers’ guidelines for basic recommendations. Most equipment manufacturers recommend anywhere from three to seven per cent, and will vary depending on what type of implement and how much drag it creates. Even though equipment is designed to work with a little bit of slip, when you get up to that eight, 10, 12 per cent, you start to waste fuel.