For sheer inconvenience, it’s hard to top flat tires. Whether the result of a slow leak or a sudden blowout, they inevitably cause an issue at the exact moment you need to use the tractor/trailer/implement in question.
Dealing with flat tires can be a stressful, time-consuming nuisance if you’re in a hurry.
That’s why regular tire maintenance on your farm machinery is so important. As the old saying goes, as ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Recognizing and addressing minor issues before they become big issues is the key to avoiding flat tires and keeping your machinery operating with maximum efficiency.
Keep Tires Inflated
First and foremost to tire maintenance is ensuring your tires are inflated to the proper pressure.
The benefits are too numerous to dismiss, including the following:
- improved fuel efficiency
- less wear
- longer tire life
- better traction
- reduced soil compaction
But determining the ideal pressure is something of an art form. While recommended guidelines are typically printed on the tire or in the manual for the machine, the ideal pressure can also vary depending on the conditions the tire will be facing.
The visual appearance of the tire is also important to review. If the treads have worn down significantly, you’ll get less traction. This makes it difficult for your tractor to get a grip for pulling heavy loads.
Cracks in the tire can be an even bigger issue. They’re a sure sign of wear and tear, hinting a blowout could be on the horizon.
You should consider replacing aging and visibly damaged tires before they give up the ghost on the day you need them most.
The Right Tools for the Job
For necessary tire maintenance, make sure you have the right tools to handle each job.
An air compressor is a critical tool no farmer should be without. And it might pay to have spare hoses and air chucks on hand, too.2
This spring, I was inflating a lawn mower tire when my air chuck broke and refused to properly deliver air into the tire. Fortunately, the tire pressure wasn’t terribly low (the mower was still usable). But without a replacement air chuck on hand, I had to wait to finish the job until I could get a new one.
Not very efficient, but it could have been worse. Imagine running into this issue when you’ve got 400 bales of hay on the ground and the hay baler tire has gone flat!
If a tire will no longer hold air, you may need to take the whole wheel to a service shop, where the tire can be patched or an inner tube installed. Just keep in mind not every wheel can be removed with a simple lug wrench.
The wheels on small machines, including lawn mowers, might be secured with snap rings that will require snap ring pliers for removal. Don’t even bother trying to remove a snap ring without the right tool—it’s not worth the effort. Been there, done that!
Time to Replace
Depending on the age of the tires on your equipment, you might conclude a machine or two would benefit from a completely new set of tires.
Maybe the well-used tires on your old John Deere have finally worn out. In this case, be prepared to dive into the debate of radial vs. bias tires—we’ve covered the pros and cons of each to help you out.
By putting in the effort to regularly examine the tires on your farm machinery, you’ll prolong the life of each tire and avoid those frustrating flats.