Check tires to make spring field work efficient

While farmers may be eager to get into the field this spring, a few simple maintenance checks will ensure their tires are ready too.

It is costly to have tire problems in the field. Farmers are often working against the weather, and Mother Nature only gives them a small window of opportunity to get their fields planted on time. In fact, delayed planting can cost as much as $570 per hour.

“As a farmer myself, I know all too well that itch to get into the fields as soon as the weather starts to change,” said Brad Harris, manager, Global Agriculture Field Engineering, Firestone Ag. “It is important to examine tires when you prep equipment for planting season. Our 7-step tire check list helps find problems and repair tire issues before they result in costly downtime.”

Checking the tire pressure is a good place to start.

“We need to figure out what our axle weights are and then use that almighty inflation pressure gauge to make sure that we are setting it correctly,” Harris said. “This is one of the things we should be doing daily to make sure we are not over inflated and lose traction in the field and not underinflated and damaging that tire.”

The tire’s sidewall will require some attention as well.

“If you see any cuts, snags or exposed cords then we need to replace those tires,” Harris said. “If the damage is just cosmetic we can continue to run on them.”

Harris also emphasized checking the tread. If there is less than 20% left on the tire, consider new tires. Then, check the tread area for stubble damages and exposed cords. If any damage is detected, it is time to replace the tires. The contact area is another point of inspection. There, make sure the tire contact area has no space between the lugs and the ground.

Most of these checks are done easily with a once over, but the valve stems need a closer look.

“Many times when we have a tire that is leaking it’s because something around that valve stem, either the nut that is holding it in there or even the valve core itself, is loose,” Harris said. “Take some soapy water and spray it on there. If you see the bubbling simply tighten it up and then put that ever-important valve cut on before heading to the field.”

The last step in a tire inspection is making sure every nut and bolt is properly tightened.

“I also encourage farmers to check the wheel weights too because we’ve got up to 2,000 pound wheel weights on the rear of these machines and we don’t want to be trying to light those up in the field by hand putting them back on the tractor,” Harris said. “These steps on each tractor maybe take 15 to 30 minutes to complete and as we sit in the shop getting ready for spring this practice will make good use of our downtime.”

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