How to Make Skid Steer Tires Last Longer
From moving material on the construction site to pushing manure on the farm to working with waste in recycling centers, we ask a lot of our skid steers—and their tires. Since tires are one of the major operating expenses for skid steers—behind fuel—smart owners and operators take steps to improve tire life as a way to cut costs and grow profits.
Photo from Gawley Tire & Repair in Irwin, Iowa
Keep Your Tires Clean: It’s easy to overlook potential tire problems when your skid steers' tires are covered with mud or manure, or caked in concrete dust. Keeping your tires clean makes it easier to spot bumps, bulges, and cracks on your tires, along with blow-out-threatening debris that might get wedged in the tread or bead area.
Inspect Tires Often: In addition to looking for deformities on your skid steer tires, inspect the tread frequently for uneven wear. It’s common for a skid steer to wear one set of tires—front or rear—faster than the other, or even one side faster than the other. Keeping regular tabs on tread wear allows you to rotate the tires and extend the service life of all four tires.
Appropriate Operation: Aggressive operation is one of the chief causes of skid steer wear. Proper training and reinforcing simple tenets of proper skid steer operation—like limiting spinning the tires by using the correct amount of throttle and keeping all four tires on the ground—will go a long way toward improving skid steer tire life.
Diligent Driving: Not only should you be vigilant in how your skid steer is driven, but also where it’s driven. Many skid steers work in harsh environments filled with tire-threatening obstacles. Awareness and avoidance of these hazards is an easy way to prevent punctures, reduce downtime, and lower skid steer tire costs.
Consider Your Application: Skid steer owners have more choices than ever in tire construction. For severe service—think scrapyards or demolition sites—a solid tire can provide the puncture-proof performance you need. But on a skid steer that is going to put on more than a mile of distance in a shift or operate at more than 16 mph, a solid tire can overheat, so you would be better off with a radial with the flexible sidewalls, even footprint, and heat-dissipating belts to stand up to that much movement. On highly abrasive pavement, a massive block tread and wear-resistant compound will provide longer service life, while the slick, wet conditions around most dairy farms would be a perfect place for a deep bar tread.
Pay Attention to Tire Pressure: For pneumatic tires, the air inside the tire is what’s responsible for carrying the load. Underinflation allows a tire to flex more than it is designed to, increasing stress on the tire, reducing fuel efficiency, building up excess heat, and speeding up wear. Conversely, overinflated tires will wear unevenly and are more likely to puncture or blow out. To keep your skid steer running its best and cut down on tire costs, check your tire pressure regularly and make sure your tires are filled to their ideal air pressure.
Cut Out Counterweights: Bolt-on counterweights are important to increasing the rollover capacity of a skid steer handling heavy loads. However, counterweights left on a skid steer when they are no longer needed results in extra force exerted on your tires, and in the end, leads to faster wear.
Replace When Necessary: We understand your desire to squeeze every ounce of life from your skid steer tires, but if your tires are showing signs that the end is near, it’s time for them to go. Missing chunks, ripped-off tread, and cracking are all indicators of impending failure. The downtime caused by trying to stretch another few hours, days, or weeks from old skid steer tires might cost more than simply replacing them when you can schedule a convenient and safe time for the switch.
Keep Tires Consistent: Mixing and matching skid steer tires is a recipe for disaster—not only will it cause undue wear to the tires, but it will also stress the chain drive system and wear out the machine itself. When replacing skid steer tires, uniformity is king: radials should be paired with radials, bias with bias, solid with solid, L-5 with L-5, directional with directional, etc.
Go Galaxy: Since the original Beefy Baby, Galaxy has been producing the most durable and versatile skid steer tires available. Building on the Beefy Baby’s legacy, today Galaxy delivers an application-specific skid steer tire for just about every application—from the Super Smooth SDS solid to the steel-belted Galaxy Bossman Grip Steel tire—and has cemented its reputation for not only delivering the toughest tires but also offering the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry.
Bonus Tip: Work closely with your tire salesperson. He or she can point you to the optimum tire for your machine, job site, conditions and budget, and help you determine the proper inflation pressure. Contact your local dealer or rep today to find the right tire for your application.