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March 8, 2024

What to Inspect on Your Tractor Tires and Wheels to Avoid Unnecessary Costs

Time is money. The rising cost of goods and slim margins mean it’s vital to make the most of each day in the field and prevent any unnecessary costs or downtime. Daily inspection and maintenance of your tractors’ tires and wheels helps ensure your operation stays running on time and on budget. But knowing exactly what to look for when you’re inspecting tractor tires and wheels isn’t always so obvious. That’s what we’re here for, so let’s take a look! 

Check Tire Pressure

One of the most important things you need to monitor is tire pressure. If the tire pressure is off, either overinflated or underinflated, you’re going to have problems. Take these actions to maintain proper tire pressure for your tractors. 

Reference the operator’s manual. Make sure you know exactly what the tire pressure should be according to your tractor’s user manual. You should also be able to find this number on the vehicle’s tire information placard, or TIP, for short. This number is your North Star. It’s not a recommendation, either, so make sure you’re at the right number every day.

Use a high-quality digital tire gauge. Much more accurate, reliable, and easier to read than old-school analog gauges, a digital tire gauge is going to save you time and effort. And at only 15-$20, it’s a very affordable investment. Look for one that locks in air when you’re testing so you don’t lose any air during the inspection process. 

Check the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation tables. If you’re exploring optional tire sizes outside of the original equipment size, you’ll want to check the TIP or owner’s manual first. Use the vehicle’s load and inflation table to guide your replacement tire selections.

So, why all the fuss about your tractor’s tire pressure? Well, overinflated or underinflated tires affect your tractor’s fuel efficiency, for one, which costs you money. Another reason to maintain proper tire pressure is to avoid unnecessary soil compaction, especially if you’re not using IF/VF tires or tracks. Overinflated tires sink a tractor deeper into soil, ultimately squeezing out pathways for precious oxygen and water that your crops need to grow. Underinflated tires are more vulnerable to internal damage, have a shorter overall lifespan, and can make turns more difficult and dangerous.

Inspect Tire Sidewalls

Let’s talk about tire sidewalls for a minute. These smooth, externally facing areas of a tire contain a lot of very important information, including the brand name, size, load and inflation pressure, traction, treadwear, and temperature grades. It’s a cheat sheet, basically. And any damage to this area, like punctures or exposed cords, could result in replacing the entire tire. 

Assess Tread Condition

The condition of a tire’s tread is just as important as monitoring tire pressure. Tread, or the patterned rubber that touches the ground, plays a major role in creating traction so that a vehicle can actually move. Good tread minimizes slipping, which results in better fuel efficiency, less damage to fields, and decreased downtime.

Another component of tread is tread depth. This refers to the measurement of the top of the tread to the deepest part of a tire’s groove. Generally speaking, if a tire’s tread depth drops below 20%, it’s time to consider a replacement. Diminished tread depth is going to decrease traction, increase slippage, and as we just discussed, negatively impact fuel efficiency and increase the likelihood of field damage.

Finally, check your treads for any stubble damage, cuts, or punctures that could significantly reduce the efficiency of your machine or shut it down altogether. 

Check Valve Stems

Before hitting the road or the field, check that all your valve stems are safely secured to ensure air doesn’t escape and air pressure is properly maintained. It’s not uncommon for loose nuts or valve cores to create tire leaks, so take a few moments every day to make sure everything is right and tight. 

Inspect Nuts, Bolts, and Wheel Weights

Speaking of nuts, you also want to inspect your machine’s wheel nuts and bolts for optimal torque, which measure the amount of load your tractor can handle when going at its max RPM. Without getting too deep into the physics of tractor torque, just know that loose nuts or bolts can affect a tractor’s maximum load capacity, which again, is going to decrease fuel efficiency and overall productivity. Check your user manual for the correct torque value.

Finally, don’t forget to check for proper attachment of your wheel weights. Designed to create better tractor balance between the smaller tires in the front and the larger tires in the back, wheel weights prevent tipping, improve traction, and decrease slipping. General wheel weight recommendations exist, but before you invest in them, check your user manual to see what the manufacturer advises.  

Partner With a Tire Maintenance Expert You Can Rely On

If you’ve ever heard the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, nowhere is that more relevant than the maintenance of your tractor’s tires and wheels. Keep equipment running smoothly and efficiently by paying close attention to daily maintenance so you can avoid large or unexpected fixes and replacements down the line. 

East Bay Tire is not only here to help you find the right tractor tires to maintain or grow your operation, but we’re also here to make sure your tire investment stays protected. We have commercial service centers in California, Arizona, and Hawaii available to assist you with any of your tire maintenance needs so you can keep replacement costs low and decrease overall downtime. Come by or give us a call anytime. We’ll get you rolling in the right direction.