A tire is more than just a ring of rubber, especially when it comes to tractor tires. Whether you have an antique John Deere tractor that uses specialty tires or a newly purchased Case International garden tractor with turf tires, tractor tires help ensure that your tractor is in top notch operating condition. Understanding basic facts about the features and characteristics of different tractor tires makes you a more informed tractor owner, which is especially important when the time comes to purchase new tires.
According to Robert Pripps, author of "How to Restore Your Farm Tractor," some tractors used rubber tires as early as 1871; however, these "tires" merely consisted of simple rubber blocks (cleats) attached around the tractor wheels. In 1928, citrus growers began encasing the steel wheels of their tractors with old truck tire casings in an effort to reduce damage to fruit tree roots. This innovation led to B. F. Goodrich's introduction of the Zero Pressure tire for tractors in 1931, a design that gave tractors more traction through a rubber arch. In 1932, Allis-Chalmers, a tractor manufacturer, became the first tractor company to include rubber tires as standard equipment on one of their tractor models, the Model U, according to Robert Pripps.
Tractor tires consist of a tread and a sidewall. Most tractor tire treads possess deep tread lugs, projecting symmetrical pieces of rubber that improve the overall ability of the tire to provide superior traction for the machine. The spaces in between the individual tread lugs are called tread voids. One of the most commonly used tractor tires is the R-1 agricultural lug tread tire; this tire has lugs that run diagonally from the center to the outside edge of the tread.
Think about what you'll be using your tractor for when you're purchasing tires. For general agricultural purposes, consider using either the R-1 agricultural lug tread tire or the R-4 industrial tire; the R-4 tractor tire is similar to a backhoe tire and doesn't dig into the ground as deeply as the R-1 agricultural tire. Turf tires are a better option if you plan to use your tractor to mow your lawn, since they have a very shallow tread and lack lugs completely, a feature that reduces damage to your lawn, according to Dr. Dick Parish, an engineer at Louisiana State University's AgCenter.
Your tractor's ability to move depends in part on its tires, so be sure to check them regularly for potential safety problems. Develop the habit of checking the tire pressure every 2 to 3 weeks. If one of your tractor tires develops a sidewall puncture, replace it rather than trying to repair it to reduce your chances of having serious tire blowouts while using your tractor in dangerous locations, such as along the sides of slopes.
You can attach wheel weights to your tractor to increase the traction you get, a technique that works especially well if your tractor tires are older and have worn treads. According to Cherry Hill, author of "Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage: Designing and Managing Your Equine Facilities," purchasing new tractor tires for your tractor typically costs around $800, but this cost can vary depending upon your tractor model and size.