Perfect Pressure: Frequent Tire Checks Improve Performance
Proper inflation is key to getting the most out of your tires. Not only do improperly inflated tires have shorter life spans, they're also inefficient.
The biggest challenge for most farmers, according to Wayne Birkenholz, manager of field engineering for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations Firestone Ag Tires, is adjusting inflation pressures to match the loads carried.
"Remember that pressure recommendations are based on the weight of the load," Birkenholz says. "Changing implements can dramatically alter the load on a tire, and will require you to adjust pressure for optimum performance."
Most modern power equipment - such as tractors and combines - is equipped with radial tires today. Birkenholz notes that, at normal pressures, radial tires flex a bit, giving them a characteristic "bulge." This bulge may look like under-inflation, so equipment operators may pump the tire full of air. By some estimates, the average farm tire is over-inflated by five to eight psi.
"Over-inflation can cause excess tire slippage, resulting in wasted fuel and rapid wear. In addition, over-inflating reduces the footprint of your tires, which increases yield-damaging soil compaction," Birkenholz says.
To make sure you're hitting the sweet spot in your tires' pressure profile, Birkenholz offers four other suggestions:
1) Know your axle loads and the corresponding load on each tire.
2) Check tires in the morning. Tire pressure changes with temperature, and inflation ratings are based on cold pressures. If you're checking when it's hot, remember the rule of thumb: for every 10-degree F change in temperature, pressure will be affected by 1 psi.
3) Check your tire pressure every two weeks, at minimum, during working season. It's a procedure that only takes a few minutes, but will increase the efficiency of your tires and reduce your risk of tire failure.
4) Resist the urge to judge inflation pressure by tire shape. Radials are supposed to bulge - that's the way they're designed. If you're really concerned about the pressure, check it with an accurate gauge.
For more information, refer www.firestoneag.com, and check out the "Optimum Tire Inflation Guide," or contact your local Certified Firestone Farm Tire Dealer.