Of course everyone knows that replacement has to happen when a tire fails and can’t be repaired! Easy peasy, fast and simple!
This, however, doesn’t address the more critical planning for your Ag tire replacements that can save you time, trouble and downtime expenses. The vast majority of failures happen when you are at your busiest and can ill afford downtime. Minimizing failures is what we are talking about here. Preventative replacement is a valuable management tool that all farmers should have in their management program.
The first part of a preventative replacement tire program should be a complete and thorough assessment of all of the tires in your fleet. This should be done when fall harvest is complete and you are cleaning up your equipment for the off-season. As you make decisions about repair and replacing equipment for the upcoming planting season, be sure to include your tires.
As you assess the functionality of your tires, keep this in mind:
- Record Date of assessment and hours for power units. Compare and calculate hours run per year and anticipated hours for your upcoming year.
- Tire Damage: Inspect any damaged areas and make proper repairs if appropriate. If any damaged areas have exposed cords, that tire will fail. It’s difficult to predict when that will happen but it will not be at a convenient time nor place. If you have a tire that is questionable, you should probably replace it before it becomes a problem at a critical time.
- Tire Wear: Are the tires wearing evenly? If you experience uneven wear, there may be a mechanical reason that likely can be corrected. Air pressures should be recorded because under inflation, as well as over inflation can cause wear patterns that should be corrected.
Do the front lugs have a scrubbed appearance on your front wheel assist tractor? If you see this, it is possible you have a lead/lag issue that needs addressed. Measure and record the remaining tread depths. As you compile tread depth information from year to year you can predict the remaining service life of your tires. If the remaining tread depths are different for tires on the same piece of equipment, a rotation may enable you to extend the service life of the tires.
Stubble Damage: Are your tires incurring any stubble damage? If you find any exposed cords on a tire, that tire needs to be replaced. Front tractor and combine tires are the most likely to incur damage. Is it time to replace or possibly rotate tires to extend the service life? You may consider mechanical stubble manipulation to reduce stubble damage and extend your tires’ service life.
Projecting Remaining Service Life: Calculate the tread removal rate in service hours per 1/32”. Do you have enough tread depth remaining for another season while retaining traction and overall functionality? The tread depths on your main workhorse tractor should never be below about 25% of the original tread depth because your traction will be compromised and your efficiency will be dramatically reduced, especially in high torque applications. Utility tractor tires may only need to hold air and tread depth may be much less important. Combine tires and grain cart tires rarely wear out but can have extensive cracking or weather checking that can be a problem.
Assessments: What are the main uses for each piece of your equipment? Your need for replacement tires should go along with how critical each piece of equipment is to your overall operation. Do you have a backup tractor in case of failures? Should you have any replacement tires due to availability? How much down time can you afford at a critical time?
Conclusions: Preventative tire replacement should be a key part of your equipment maintenance program. There will be failures and downtime that are disruptive and quite expensive. The goal of any maintenance program is to reduce failures and problems to a minimum. Make the best educated decisions for your tires just like you do for all of the equipment on the farm with the goal of having a trouble-free growing season!