Tires play a huge role in how your farm machinery performs. These machines are out in the dirt, mud, and snow year-round, so it’s important to give them regular inspections. Look for cracks or cuts in the sidewalls, make sure nuts and bolts are tight, and the tire pressure is correct. Underinflated tires can increase fuel costs, tire wear, and downtime.
Brad Harris is the manager of global field engineering for Firestone Ag. He says tires that are too flat can also do some serious damage to the cords and fabrics inside the tires.
"It’s just like taking a piece of wire. If we bend it too many times, it comes apart, and that’s what’s happening. If we run on underinflated tires, we over-flex them, causing damage to the internal construction, and then it won’t be able to hold the air or it’ll start coming apart," says Harris. "And then we’re investing money in putting new tires on that piece of equipment."
Also check the tread. Harris says if they’re less than about 20% of the original tread or skid depth, it may be time to think about new tires.
"On dry years, having that 20% skid, we’re fine. It’s when we get into those wet or stickier conditions when we have less tread than that, then we start losing traction in the field and we can get stuck. So, we look at the spec of the tire, what it’s supposed to be," he says. "If we don’t have more than 20%, let’s talk to our dealer and start planning on putting new rubber on that piece of equipment."
If you notice uneven wear on your tires, it may be a result of improper inflation, or a sign that the tires need to be rotated. Check with your owner’s manual for recommendations.