Tractor and wagon tires take an awful lot of punishment on the farm. They are some of the toughest pieces of equipment farmers own. Surprisingly though, the most important factor determining tire life is not the work tires do or the conditions they are subject to. No, ag tire life is ultimately about air pressure.
Rubber casings and steel belts obviously play a significant role in tractor and wagon tire performance. But casings and belts are really just a house for air. It is the air inside the tires that supports the weight of a tractor or wagon. It is the air that gives an otherwise soft tire its solid structure. Maintaining correct tire pressure maximizes life; not maintaining pressure reduces life. It is all pretty simple.
Tire Pressure During Winter
Your average tractor owner knows enough to check tire pressure during the spring, summer, and fall. After all, the owner is using the tractor just about every day. It is winter that causes the most problems for tire pressure. Tractors and wagons put in storage can be forgotten until the snow melts and the ice thaws. That’s a mistake.
A good rule of thumb is to check tractor and wagon tires at least twice a week over the winter. Note that temperature plays a crucial role in tire pressure. As temperatures fall, so does tire pressure. It goes back up as the temperature rises. What does this tell you? It tells you that prolonged periods of sustained cold could make your tires soft enough to affect both tread and sidewall. Air should be added when temperatures begin to rise.
It is interesting that tractor tires do not hold a lot of air to begin with. Anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds is normal. In terms of cold temperatures though, tractor tires tend to lose a pound of pressure per square inch for every 10° the temperature falls. The time of biggest concern is that the point of the first cold snap of the season.
Liquid Filled Tires
There are times when tractor and wagon owners decide to fill their tires with fluid to keep them in better shape for the winter. That’s not a bad idea for preserving sidewalls and maintaining a good footprint. Yet tires should never be filled with water. Water expands when it freezes, which could be hazardous for tractor and wagon tires.
Experts recommend being very careful when buying used tires from warm weather climates. Let’s say you are buying tires from Florida or Southern California, where freezing is near impossible. The seller you are purchasing from may have filled tires with water, not even thinking about it. One hard freeze on your property in Ohio could mean big problems.
We Recommend New Tires
Here at Mytee Products, we understand that circumstances sometimes dictate purchasing used tires. We recommend buying new whenever possible. New tires are going to offer many more years of reliable service as long as they are taken care of. You never know how long used tires will last.
You might already be making plans to put your tractor and wagons away for the winter. In a couple of more weeks, you’ll be ready to set aside working in the field in favor of getting some of that back-office work done. Just remember that your tractor and wagon tires need to be maintained over the winter. Check air pressure at least twice a week. And if you are going to use liquid to fill your tires, make sure you use something that won’t freeze.