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Can I Save Money with Proper Tire Inflation?

We want to teach you how to properly inflate your tractor tires, to save you money, reduce wear, and maximize your profits.

First, a quick discussion about maximum tractor performance.

When it comes to maximum tractor performance in the field, there are many considerations.


You need to consider the tractor horsepower, drawbar, and three-point hitch (3PH) capacity. Also, it is important to consider the implement used, the size, as well as the required ballast and tire selection.

Some of the more top-of-mind topics when it comes to performance are efficient baling, harvesting, tilling, and planting.

Just as important is better fuel usage, minimized ground compaction, increased tractor driveline life, and increased profitability.

So, how does this tie into tire inflation?

Tire Inflation

There are reasons to make sure your tires are properly inflated --- yet tire inflation is misunderstood or often ignored.

Tractive efficiency is a little-known term. It refers to the measure of how well a tractor uses available power to pull an implement through the soil. Tractive performance is a balance of field performance, maximization of tire wear, elimination of power hop, and minimization of soil compaction.

You may not be aware of it, but radial tires have a big advantage over their bias-ply counterparts. Radial tires require a more careful tire pressure management program.

Therefore, we will focus on radial tires.

Ask almost any farmer what the correct tire pressure is --- and you will get a wide range of answers. Some might say 15 psi is correct, that 3 or 4 lugs should be on the ground, or low in the paddock, high on the road.

Much of that is based on experience.

Many tests show that incorrect tire pressure can waste as much as 20-40% of your engine power through slip plus increased rolling resistance. The only way to ensure maximum performance is to check your tire pressure against the manufacturer’s recommendations for load and speed.

To determine your correct tire pressure, you must determine each axle’s load and tractor weight.

Begin by weighing the tractor on a grain or truck scale --- then weigh each axle with the desired implement on it, to get the weight per axle.

If a 3PH implement is going to be used --- weigh the front axle with the implement down and then weigh the rear axle with the implement raised.

Next, determine if the ballasting is correct. General ballast recommendations are: 2WD 25% front / 75% rear, MFWH 35% front / 65% rear, and 4WD 55% front / 45% rear. Once ballasting is correct, the tire pressure can be checked and set.

Proper tire pressure for the load and speed will be manufacturer-specific, with each publishing charts with their recommendations.

Tire Pressure

Use a calibrated tire gauge to check your pressure.

We recommend checking your tires with two different gauges --- just in case one gauge is not working.

Check your tires daily --- early in the morning.

Also, inspect your tires for tread depth, wear, cracking, and sidewall fatigue.

We also recommend that you log all tire pressure readings.

You also should consider using dust valve covers. All tire valves leak. The dust cap with a rubber seal can help prevent air loss.

A modern improvement is the Central Tire Inflation (CTI) system.

Though often expensive, over the life of a high horsepower tractor, payback can be realized.

Not sure of the payback?

A tire operating at 10% under pressure can reduce tire life by 15% or more. Conversely, operating at 20% over inflation can cause performance loss by as much as 30%. Since 10% or 20% can be a very low PSI change, it is advisable to start checking those tires daily and begin reaping the many easily claimed benefits.

Here are some “don’ts” and “dos” when it comes to tire inflation and maintenance:

  • Don’t overinflate your tires. Overinflation increases ground compaction and decreases tractive efficiency and ride quality.

  • Don’t underinflate your tires. Underinflation can physically damage the tire and reduce life.

  • Don’t procrastinate. Start your tire maintenance routine today.

  • Check air pressure often. Daily is best.

  • Use a calibrated pressure gauge. A two-tire gauge system is best.

  • Visually inspect your tires for wear and abnormalities.

  • Check the tire pressure in the morning. The manufacturer’s tire pressure

  • recommendations are all based on the tire being cold.

  • Know your tractor’s weight per axle, and be sure ballasting is at the recommended levels.

If you need any further help, or have any questions about tire inflation, tractors, or anything else, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.

Team Tractor and Equipment - #1 Tractor Dealer in Arizona. We sell and service most major brands of tractors including Yanmar, Kubota, John Deere, TYM, Mahindra, Kioti, Case, New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Ford, Deutz, Case IH, Farmall, International Harvester, Branson Tractors, LS, Shibura, Claas Tractor, McCormick Tractors, Valtra, Solis, YTO, Montana, and Nortrac.

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