Tractor tyres: are you getting the best out of yours?

Tips to make your tractor tyres perform better and last longer

As a farmer, do you pay the same level of attention to your tractor tyre pressures as you do your oil and lubricant levels, or do you trust your luck? Underinflation can damage your tyres and your tractor. A couple of minutes spent checking and correcting your tyre pressures before you go into the field could save you a hatful of dollars.

How does running incorrectly inflated tractor tyres affect your costs?

It’s hard enough making money as a farmer, but habitually forgetting to check your tractor tyre pressures is just like throwing money away. Neglecting to pump up your tyres will lead to pumping up your costs. You’ll use more fuel, and the damage that could be caused to your tyres’ sidewalls will shorten their useful life.

Tractor tyres are designed to keep a certain shape. If you incorrectly inflate your tyres, the tyre will become misshaped (either overinflated or underinflated):

  • Underinflation leads to several issues, including cracking of the sidewall, bead cracking, and torn lugs
  • Overinflation results in a smaller footprint, a less stable ride, increased soil compaction, and more rapid wear

With new tractor tyres costing thousands of dollars, a regular two-minute pressure check is a cheap insurance policy.

Why do farmers neglect their tyre pressures?

Some experts think that a failure to run a tractor with the correct tyre pressure is due to laziness. I think it’s more complicated than this.

There are a lot of factors you need to consider when maintaining the correct air pressure in a working tractor’s tyres. You need to consider:

  • The weight of attachments
  • The tractor’s split weights
  • Loads on the drawbar
  • The task being done
  • Tractor speed

A simple miscalculation can mean the tyres are not inflated correctly, and lead to the damage outlined above. For example, let’s say that your tractor tyre’s recommended capacity is 4,000kg at a specific air pressure. If you run the tyre at, say, 10psi or 20psi under that recommended pressure fully loaded, you will affect the performance of the tyre and the tractor. A flatter tyre has a smaller load capacity.

Do you check your tyre pressures correctly?

A common mistake that can lead to incorrect inflation is checking tractor tyre pressures when the tyre has been warmed up, after it has been working. Warm tyres will show a higher inflation pressure. When you come to work the tractor from cold, the tyres will likely be underinflated. You should always check your tyre pressures before you start your tractor working.

The curse of the front end loader

Front end loaders are common today. They are also responsible for a lot of the tyre wear we see.

Front end loaders put a lot of pressure on the front axle. If the tyre is not correctly inflated and adjusted for the load, it can quickly be damaged and fail.

The mistake of not inflating for the job at hand

Another common mistake is forgetting to alter tyre pressures according to the job the tractor is doing; for example, when you are running a dual configuration when seeding, and then forget to adjust the tyre pressures when running a single configuration during fertilising.

The mistake of adding water as ballast

Some farmers add water to tubed tyres to act as ballast, but doing so to tubeless tyres is likely to cause you some serious issues.

In a tubeless tyre, the water comes into direct contact with the rim. The resulting rust weakens the fabric of the wheel. In addition, using water as ballast on radial tyres reduces their effectiveness because you reduce the flexible nature of the tyre – and traction reduces.

How to get longer life from your tractor tyres

The best tyre tips I can give you to get the best performance from your tractor tyres and your tractor are:

  • Make it routine to check your tyre pressures before you start working with your tractor
  • Inflate the tyres to the correct pressure for the load to be carried and the job to be done
  • Keep the tyres clean
  • Wash off caked mud, oil, diesel and petrol
  • Never ballast tubeless tractor tyres with water

Finally, if you can’t be sure of what pressures you should be running your tractor tyres at for different applications and with different loads, contact Darra Tyres. We’ll be pleased to share our tyre knowledge and expertise with you.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.