When the price of a single replacement tire for a harvester or skidder can run as high as $5,000—and every tire repair costs you valuable production time—it’s just good business to make sure you’re getting the most from every tire you put on your equipment.

How much do you spend on tires every year, including replacement, recaps and service calls from your tire supplier? An effective tire management program can cut that cost by as much as 50%, and it takes just a few simple steps.

Check Tire Pressure

A weekly check of tire pressure is the simplest, least expensive way to extend tire life, but it takes attention to detail.

—Know the tire manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressures for every machine in your fleet. Most manufacturers’ manuals recommend different pressures for different applications, loads and working conditions. So it’s important to know the specific recommended pressure for each machine and tire.

—The recommended pressure is a “cold inflation” pressure, so always perform your tire checks first thing in the morning.

—Even a “healthy” tire can lose pressure over time; so weekly checks are a must.

—Cold weather can reduce tire pressure by as much as 10-30%, so be especially watchful as the seasons change.

Maintain Work Surfaces

An essential factor in tire management doesn’t involve the tires themselves but the surfaces they roll on. Keep skid roads, haul roads and landings clear of debris such as rocks that can cut treads or sidewalls, and fill potholes and ruts that can hide debris or cause excessive wear. Like pressure checks, these simple steps can prevent expensive repairs or unnecessary replacements.

Consider Applications

If several machines are available for a specific job, ask yourself, “Which one has the best tires for this application?” A machine with narrower tires may be better suited to work in an area with hard soil, for example, while wider tires are better for softer soils or swampy conditions. A radial tire typically has a 10 to 15% larger footprint than a bias-ply tire of the same size. Again, follow the tire manufacturer’s manual for inflation.

You might want to switch tires to better match a specific machine to the job. A couple of hours spent switching tires can pay off with improved productivity in the field.

If you can’t do it personally, choose a trusted member of your staff to “own” your tire management program—to be responsible for your fleet’s total tire life, maintenance and costs.

A good place to start is a one- or two-day “tire school” sponsored by most of the major tire manufacturers. Ask your tire supplier, or contact a manufacturer directly to identify available sessions in your area. There, your tire manager will learn from the experts about applications, load/speed/surface variables, inflation, preventive maintenance and other factors that underlie an effective tire management program. He or she can then share that knowledge with all of your supervisors and operators to ensure everyone is working together to get the most from your tires.