When you work in the agriculture industry, tires are a crucial component of your equipment, and you need to know you can rely on them to stay productive and meet tight harvest schedules. Keeping up with your agriculture tire maintenance is fundamental to an agricultural operation.
Many people are only concerned with their tires when something goes wrong and requires repair. When you proactively maintain your tires and have them checked regularly, you can save a great deal of time and money – downtime resulting in delayed planting could cost you as much as $627/hour!. Preventative maintenance is essential for maximizing your tire’s life expectancy and uptime during the busy season.
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Regular agriculture tire maintenance can extend a tire’s service life by catching minor damage so you can correct it before it becomes irreversible. There are several key elements you should check for when inspecting your tires:
1. CRACKS, CUTS, BULGES, AND STUBBLE DAMAGE
Tractor tires are built to endure rough conditions and can function with small cracks, cuts, and other visible forms of damage. However, once a cut or crack deepens enough to expose your tire’s body plies or belts, you should replace it.
The body plies and belts help your tire hold its inflation pressure, so damage to these components would make the tire unusable. Check your tires regularly to make sure your body plies and belts are adequately protected.
Stubble damage refers to when stalk remnants pierce or erode your tire’s tread face, shoulder, or sidewall. Strong stalks on plants such as corn, cotton, or beans can be hard on your tires. Stubble piercing takes place when sharp stalks puncture the tire, leading to air loss, while stubble erosion occurs over time as plant stalks gradually wear through the treads and expose the radial cords.
To combat stubble damage, our OTR TIRE SEAL is a great preventative measure that will permanently seal punctures from the inside of the tire up to ¼”, helping to reduce downtime and tire wear. Specifically made for large OTR/agricultural tires and low RPM’s, our OTR TIRE SEAL will also condition the tire’s inner liner, preventing tire and tube rot.
Cracks and cuts or severe stubble damage can eventually wear your tire down and expose the radial cords, causing more serious problems. Even with protection, it is important to inspect your tires for signs of damage regularly.
2. TREAD DEPTH
Tire tread is what transfers your tractor’s power to the ground. When your tire’s tread dips below 20% of its original depth, you could start losing traction on wet ground or slippery surfaces. Increased slippage can affect the accuracy of your work and may also increase the amount of time and fuel it takes you to complete a job.
It’s a best practice to replace your tires when they get to this stage.
Ensure your tires are wearing evenly by checking them with a tread depth gauge. Rest the gauge on your tread blocks and extend the probe into the space between the lugs to determine the depth. Repeat this at several points around the tire to check for irregular tread wear.
If the wear is uneven, you may need to adjust the tire pressure or rotate your tires more often.
Using the right amount of ballast means you use the minimum weight needed for your tractor to achieve the desired performance level. Excess ballast can create deeper tracks, making it harder for the machine to climb out of ruts and increasing the power and fuel needed to function. This can lead to compaction, resulting in lower crop yield.
Get in touch with an agriculture tire professional to determine the proper ballasting solution for your tractor so you can operate more efficiently.
4. PROPER INFLATION
Tires operate most efficiently when they have maximum contact with the ground. When working in the field, you can optimize your tires’ contact patch by properly inflating them with the minimum amount of air necessary — this practice allows the tire to flex over a larger footprint.
To prevent wheel or tire damage, be sure to increase your tires’ pressure again before driving on the road or putting the tractor in storage.
Weather changes will directly impact your tires’ air pressure. Regularly checking your air pressure is crucial to ensuring your tires are functioning at their full potential. This practice becomes even more important with sudden weather changes, especially when the nights get cooler in the fall.
STORAGE PREPARATION FOR THE OFF-SEASON
Before you put your tractor away for the season, make sure to follow these guidelines to ready your tires for storage:
- Clean your tires thoroughly before storing them. Use soap, water, and a tire brush to remove dirt and grime so you can spot any damage.
- Place tires in an airtight storage bag. Keeping your tires in an airtight bag will prevent the lubricating oil from evaporating.
- Store tires upright in a dry, cool environment to avoid breakdown due to UV ray exposure.
- Ideally, tires should be off the ground to remove the weight of the equipment, and air let out of the tires to reduce stress on the tire’s surface.
- Keep tires away from chemicals, fuel, or oil.
Proper storage in the off-season is important for extending the life of your tires.
At IMI, we are dedicated to helping you find ways to increase your profitability and uptime. Learn more about our OTR TIRE SEAL with our Tire Sealant Guide!