As the weather warms up, farmers, home owners and other outdoor workers are rolling out their equipment. However, it’s not safe to start work in earnest until you’ve worked through a spring maintenance checklist with all of your vehicles’ tires. To help you during your spring tire checkup, we’ve got four big tire maintenance tips to follow. If you have a lawnmower, golf cart, or another kind of farm equipment vehicle, you’ll want to take note of these tire care tips.
When tires sit in barns or garages for months at a time, especially during cold weather, they can develop “flat spots” where they’ve been resting. If they were stored in wet or even slightly moist conditions, they could rot in spots, too.
Before gearing up for the season, take a long, hard look at your tires. Spotting (and addressing) issues can save you a lot of money and pain in the long run.
1. Start with a Digital Tire Gauge
The first thing you’ll want to do before any at-home tire inspection is to purchase a digital tire gauge. They’re not very expensive (usually under $15), but they’ll quickly help you understand how safe your tires are.
You need to know if your tire is properly inflated. To learn this, rest the feet of the gauge on your tread blocks or lugs, then extend the probe into the space between the lugs. Repeat this process on each tire for a comprehensive understanding of their inflation. Doing so will also ensure you’re rotating your tires often enough (and that two aren’t less inflated than the others).
With an ATV tire, you want a tire pressure between 4 and 8 PSI. A UTV might require 12 to 18 PSI while a golf cart (and most lawnmowers) require 15 to 25 PSI. Other off-road and farm equipment likely needs at least 12 PSI.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that straightforward – especially when it comes to working with equipment like tractors. Tractor tires have a rather large disparity between the recommended PSI for roading versus field operations.
When you’re driving on a road at a relatively high speed, a tractor’s tires will need a specific tire pressure. Then, they need a different tire pressure when they’re working in the field for long periods of time. So how do most field workers and farmers handle this problem?
Instead of adjusting the inflation pressures manually, these workers can use “IF” and “VF” technology. These advanced technologies help tractor tires properly distribute pressures in accordance with roading versus in-field operational needs. But that’s a story for another post.
Long story short: you need a digital tire gauge to initially understand if your equipment’s tires are inflated enough for proper fieldwork.
2. Inspect the Sidewalls
The next thing you’ll want to do in a DIY tire inspection is to examine the sidewalls. Look for major cuts, exposed cords, and other indications of severe damage. Additionally, survey the tread for stubble damage and cuts.
Also, keep an eye out for flat spots that have developed as your tires sat unused for months at a time. When tires cool down and sit for long periods of time, their shapes can change. Although this might not seem like a big problem, a flat spot can make the vehicle unsafe to drive.
You may need to completely replace your tires if:
- The sidewalls are extremely damaged and could cause the tires to blow.
- There are deep scratches that reach the tire threads.
- There are flat spots that seem severe and don’t go away after a small test drive.
If you ever question your tire’s safety, take it to a professional for spring maintenance before beginning fieldwork in earnest. The last thing you want to do is compromise someone’s safety or the vehicle’s by using a damaged tire.
3. Measure the Tread Depth
Our next recommendation is to properly assess your tires’ tread depth. As a general rule, if the tread is under 20 percent, you’ll likely need to replace the tire. This is easy to do – as long as you have a penny on hand. Let’s talk about the time-old trick for assessing your tire tread depth on the fly.
Take a regular U.S. penny and place it head-first into your tire’s tread grooves. Can you see the top of Lincoln’s head? If so, it means your treads are too shallow and worn, and they likely need to be replaced.
As long as Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re likely good to go. This means that more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remains, which is more than enough.
Why do tread wear and depth really matter when it comes to proper tire maintenance? How do they affect your equipment’s performance?
When your tire treads are worn too much, your vehicle loses the ability to respond properly in rainy and snowy conditions. If you want to stay safe, especially on difficult terrain, you need tires that are up to the job.
4. Examine the Contact Area
Your fourth tip is to check the space between your equipment’s tire lugs and the ground. Are the lugs up in the air? This could actually mean your tires are over-inflated – something a tire gauge likely won’t tell you.
There should be no space between the lugs and the ground during a tire inspection. You don’t want your tires to “crown up.” Inflating past the recommended point can affect your tire’s ability to grip the road and perform as it should.
Whether you’re storing or using your equipment, inflate the tires to the recommended level. When you take equipment out of storage in the spring, know that the air pressure may have increased or decreased over the course of the winter.
We recommend checking tire pressure throughout the storage period, but if you don’t, at least check the space between the lugs and the ground after removing them from storage.
Buy New Tires When You Need Them
All in all, if you store your tires somewhere over winter, then bring your equipment out in the spring, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to assess all tires. You want to know that you’re working with vehicles you can trust, both in the fields and on the road.
Start by following the tire maintenance tips above to check your current tires. If you spot serious signs of concern, don’t ignore them. Driving with subpar tires is a dangerous choice for all involved.
At Tires Easy, we match customers with the best online tire deals around. Whether you drive a large SUV or a trailer, we’ll connect you with popular brand names and quality products.
If you have questions about storing your tires for farming equipment or conducting a spring tire checkup, let us know. Our experts are here to ensure your tires last as long as possible. We’ll help you buy new tires, but we’ll also help you maintain the ones you have.