There are plenty of factors to consider when it comes to your tractor’s performance. Correctly matched tractor and implement sizes. Ballast for optimum weight distribution. The health of your drivetrain. And don’t forget the tires: your tractors’ only connection to the ground. If they’re in bad shape, your next busy day might take a turn for the worse with an untimely tire failure.
Replace Worn Tractor Tires to Maximize Productivity
Now is always the perfect time to review the health of your tractors’ tires. If your rubber is past its prime, there are several consequences that will ultimately impact the profitability of your farm. Sure—tires wear out just like hoses or belts or filters. But unlike those items, worn out or underperforming tires can actually cost your farm money with every engine revolution. Addressing tire shortcomings today can actually boost your farm’s bottom line:
- Increased fuel economy
- Higher yields (by tackling compaction)
- Longer tire life
- More efficient fieldwork
When is it time to replace your tires? There’s no specific “right” time, but there are a few warning signs you can look for. And, in #5 below, we share a few reasons why you may want to consider replacing your tires early.
1. Dry Rot or Weathering
Weathering is a natural wear progression for any tire. When a tire’s exposed to sunlight or dry air, the rubber compounds can lose elasticity and develop small cracks. Improper storage of tires that aren’t mounted can accelerate the process. (Ideally, you should store tires in a cool, dry place away from the sun and sources of ozone.) The rubber can also appear faded and may become brittle. On a secondary tractor that does lighter duty, you can let weathered tires ride for a while. But on your high-power workhorse or beneath your heaviest implements, it pays to ditch weathered tires before a blowout brings you to a halt when you can least afford one.
2. Tire Damage
A puncture or gash that exposes a tire’s plies means that it’s time to replace or repair the tire. While metal plies and advanced sidewall construction help deflect critical damage, a tire’s rubber is its first line of defense against hazards. If you can see the cords, you’ll need to repair or scrap the tire.
A bulge in a tire’s sidewall indicates casing damage, possibly from hitting a rock. A bulge is not able to be repaired and could cause a tire failure at any time. In addition to these types of catastrophic damage, tires can also be damaged over a longer period of time. Older tires have thinner rubber than new ones, and as tires age, the likelihood of a puncture or gash increases. In addition, repeated strikes by stubble or rocks—or wear from long miles at high speeds down the road—gradually erodes rubber from a tire’s tread face. Eventually, this wear will make your tires less effective at providing traction, which will cost you money in extra fuel and wasted time.
3. Air Leaks
At NTS Tire Supply, we know the importance of properly inflated tractor tires. While you don’t want your tires overinflated for fieldwork, you don’t want them to lose air either. Older tires may develop slow leaks, or you could have a leak caused by a worn-out valve stem or a damaged bead or wheel. Bead damage can result from something as simple as mishandling a tire, such as hanging a tire on pallet forks and carrying it across your yard that way.
Please use a tire pressure gauge regularly! The only way you can be sure that your tires are properly inflated for the load and speed conditions they're operating in is to use a tire pressure gauge. This not only prevents tire failures—it ensures that your tires are supporting higher productivity for your farm, not working against it.
4. Low or Uneven Tread
You’ve spent countless hours doing field work, so trust the feel of your tractor: If it seems to be slipping more than normal when it's properly ballasted, it’s time to replace your tires. Everyone loves long-lasting products—like grandma’s dutch oven that’s still cooking two generations later. Tires are a different story. When you hang on to them too long they start to eat away at your farm’s productivity.
Most modern tractors have wheel slip data available. If wheel slip is above 12% on your 4WD or MFWD tractor, you have a traction problem. If your tires are worn—with either a slim portion of their original tread left or an odd wear pattern—it’s time to replace them, as they’re costing you money with every turn of your tractor’s engine.
5. You’re Ready to Increase Machine Performance
You don’t have to wait until a blowout and downtime is on the horizon to replace your tires. At NTS Tire Supply, our tire experts help farmers achieve specific performance goals for their equipment. We call these projects “changeovers,” but our name for them isn’t important. What is important is that these projects help farmers get higher levels of performance from their equipment. Common “changeovers” include:
- Installing larger tires on a tractor to increase its footprint size and get air pressures lower in the field. This fights yield-robbing compaction and increases traction and flotation.
- Replacing failure-prone factory combine duals with more durable wheel setups (and larger tires) to better handle the load and optimize flotation in wet fall fields.
- Upgrading row crop tractors used for planting to LSW super single tires to fight pinch-row compaction, which can eat away at your yields.
- Swapping standard radial tires for VF (very increased flexion) tractor and implement tires to decrease tire pressure and minimize soil compaction.
Drive Your Farm Forward with New Tractor Tires
What performance goals do you have for your tractor (or other equipment)? Increase traction? Decrease fuel use? Lighten its load on your soil? You don’t have to wait until your tires are ready to fail to replace them. In fact, with the performance improvements available to farmers through IF/VF radial tire technology, central tire inflation systems, and even next-gen implement tires, it may pay to upgrade your equipment sooner than later. You can always trade in your used tires for credit—something we handle every day at NTS Tire Supply. Whether your tires need to be replaced or you’re searching for performance improvements, call NTS and speak with a tire expert about how the right tires and wheels can Drive Your Farm Forward.