Why You Need To Check Tire Air Pressure

When spring arrives and you're ready to resume your favorite farming activities, don't forget to check the tire air pressure of your farm machinery.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

When spring finally rolls around, it’s always a good idea to do some routine maintenance on your farm machinery and tools, just to make sure that everything is primed and ready for your busiest time of year. When you think “maintenance,” you probably think of changing the oil in your tractor, replacing the spark plugs in your lawn mower, stocking up on fuel for your chainsaw, and other similar tasks, all of which are important steps to take.

However, one simple maintenance job that is easy to overlook—yet no less important—is checking the air pressure in the tires of your various machines and wagons. Over time, the air pressure can gradually drop until the tires are unable to perform efficiently, so spring is the perfect time to check the pressure and add air if necessary.

I actually encountered a perfect example just a few days ago. While salvaging old bricks from a long-forgotten pile that had evidently been created decades ago, I elected to use one of my old yard carts to transport the bricks to a better location. (On a side note, I’m excited about the possibilities offered by these beautifully weathered old bricks.)

However, after loading up 30-some bricks on to my cart, I quickly discovered that the load was quite heavy—and the tires clearly needed more air. Even though they had appeared full and ready to go when the yard cart wasn’t in use, the addition of a heavy load caused the tires to sag noticeably, especially the left wheel in the rear. While there was enough air to move the bricks the short distance required, pulling the cart was harder than it should have been, and I could feel the cart favoring the left rear wheel, leaning slightly in that direction and even leaving a tire track where I crossed hard gravel.

Fortunately, the addition of a little air quickly resolved the issue. With its tires back to their optimum pressure levels, my yard cart returned to its peak form, easily rolling across the ground even when weighed down by similar loads.

This simple example, using the simplest of machines, goes to show the importance of having the proper air pressure in tires. From tractors, lawn mowers and ATVs to wagons, carts, trailers, hay balers and anything else with wheels, it’s wise to check the pressure of every tire (the proper level should be listed on the tire itself) before you rev them up for the year. A simple tire pressure gauge and an air compressor are all you need to ensure that your machines have the air pressure they need to run smoothly and efficiently. (Just be careful not to overfill!)

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