Whether you’re driving the combine, towing a grain cart, deep tilling or simply bringing lunch to the field, you’re running on rubber. Ensuring you’re rolling on the right tires and tracks — and properly caring for them — can help the season go more smoothly and efficiently.

For example, inflating tractor tires properly and ballasting the tractor correctly can result in a cost savings of between 3 percent and 10 percent. Improperly inflated tires can impact several factors, including:

  • Equipment performance and efficiency
  • Soil compaction
  • Tire longevity

Keep a tire gauge handy, and be sure to use it. The time spent provides immediate fuel savings and improved performance. But other factors influence performance, too.

Pick the right tires and then take care of them

Tire purchase and maintenance costs represent 15 percent to 20 percent of your equipment’s operating costs. Proper tire selection goes a long way in determining the life of your tires. Keep in mind that more rubber means longer wear. So, when it comes to heavy-duty applications, choose a tire with more rubber for better puncture prevention. Tire liners can reduce flats, too.

It’s important to protect your investment. That’s where a good tire gauge comes in. Too much air pressure creates strains on stability and traction. Too little pressure causes increased flexing. Keep tires properly inflated to prevent faster wear.

Tracks deserve your attention too

Undercarriage maintenance is the costliest part of any tracked machine. Don’t put off repairing or replacing undercarriage components, including tracks. To gauge wear on tracks, check for deflection within the track and on the machine. Check the tread strip or indicator for tread life. Look for chunking (chunks of track that have been removed due to wear) as the best indicator that you need new tracks.

Clean tracks and the undercarriage frequently. Mud and dirt buildup can interfere with proper operation when you change the pitch and alter the component engagement, leading to faster wear. Routine cleaning provides opportunity to check for any loose or worn parts.

Monitor track tension in working conditions. If you must choose between tight and loose, opt for loose. Running with too-tight tension reduces chain life. It also strains other components, including the front idler and carrier rollers.

Caring for tires and tracks often gets overlooked — until there’s a problem. Make tire and track maintenance a habit. It’s good for your equipment, your fields and your bottom line.