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Throttle Fuel Costs with Tire Inflation

“If you haven’t looked at how much weight you are carrying and you haven’t looked at tire inflation pressures to see where they should be, you may be burning 8% to 10% more fuel than you need to be,” warns Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer.

A study by Ohio State University shows tires overinflated by 8 to 10 psi, on average, increased fuel use 10% to 12%. If you are paying attention to your tire inflation pressure, you are more likely to get a 3% to 4% increase in fuel efficiency by double-checking the pressure, says Hanna.

To find the right inflation pressure for each load, consult the tire load and inflation table from your tire manufacturer’s website or in the equipment operator’s manual. Pressure depends on the weight for that tire size, speed, and if the tire is used as a single or a dual.

To really boost fuel savings, take a look at new tire technology. Increased flex (IF) and very-high flex (VF) tires allow you to reduce tire inflation pressures. A 2013 ASABE study showed a 4% fuel savings by reducing inflation pressure 4 psi (from the 13 psi needed for a standard tire to 9 psi for an IF).

On-board tire inflation systems, like those available from Precision Inflation, allow you to adjust tire inflation pressure in about 5 minutes from the tractor cab. “By lowering the pressure on IF tires from the proper setting for the road to the field, you can get a 13% to 14% fuel savings,” says Sally Brodbeck, Precision Inflation, referencing a study by South Westphalia University.

For now, on-board inflation systems are only available as an aftermarket product. In the future, they will be an OEM option, says Wayne Birkenholz of Firestone. “These systems will allow you to really take advantage of new tire technology.”

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