Transitioning Compact Tractors for Winter Work
As autumn edges toward winter, the days get shorter, the temperatures colder, and many small acreage owners and landscapers begin to transition their compact tractors from fall cleanup to snow removal. Compact tractors are winter workhorses—thanks, in part, to their ability to operate a wide variety of attachments—and play a vital role in both professional and personal snow removal.
Some simple preventative maintenance and the right tire can help maximize the performance of equipment, avoid the thin ice of downtime, and ultimately ensure compact tractor owners don’t get left out in the cold this winter.
Compact Tractor Attachments for Snow Removal
In advance of the snow season, make sure snow removal attachments connect to the tractor and take them for a practice run. This ensures everything works properly and provides the opportunity to fix any issues in advance of plummeting temperatures and dumping snow. Popular snow removal attachments for compact tractors include:
- Blowers: these are the ultimate snow removal attachment for compact tractors—they’re available as both front- and rear-mount configurations and can clear large swatches of snow quickly and efficiently.
- Blades: used to push snow, these simple, yet effective, attachments are available for front and rear positions and work on everything from large parking lots to residential driveways.
- Pushers: similar to blades, but with endcaps that form a box, pushers contain snow as they move it, which makes them ideal for everything from clearing large lots to hard-to-reach areas like between buildings.
- Sweepers and Brooms: well-suited to regions that receive light fluffy snow, blades are great for areas that require a more delicate touch, like walkways, hardscapes, and athletic fields.
- Buckets: a common feature on compact tractors and an effective snow removal tool—they’re used to push snow and move piles.
Winter Compact Tractor Tire Preparation
Winter puts distinct demands on compact tires and the productivity and efficiency of compact tractors are tied to their tires’ readiness to tackle snow, ice, and slush along with the unique requirements of attachments.
When to Perform Winter Tire Maintenance
Winter weather is unpredictable and the sooner a compact tractor is prepared for snow removal, the better. Scrambling to get ready as an early-season snowstorm is rolling in is the last thing anyone wants. Winter conditions are also typically unpleasant to work in, which makes taking advantage of mild fall weather and downtime between storms a smart strategy.
Are Compact Tractor Tires Winter Ready?
It’s essential to inspect a compact tractor’s tires when preparing for a long season of snow removal. The extreme cold of winter can intensify underlying tire issues. For example, low temperatures can make tire rubber brittle and susceptible to damage—especially if there is an existing issue, like cracking.
A common problem brought on by frigid conditions is low inflation pressure. Undetected leaks and big temperature swings can wreak havoc on the inflation pressure of tires and have a snowball effect of unwanted consequences—from underwhelming equipment performance to premature wear to possible failure.
Before winter, know the pressure at which a compact tractor’s tires should operate. Check tire pressure and adjust accordingly often—the more frequently, the better. Colder temperatures will cause the pressure of passenger car tires to drop about one pound per square inch for every 10° F drop in air temperature. Remember when calculating proper tire pressure to account for the weight of the machine, attachment, and load—snow generally weighs 15 to 20 pounds per cubic foot, and compact tractor buckets commonly hold anywhere from six to nine cubic feet of material. Not comfortable determining the ideal pressure of your tires? Work with your local dealer.
Radial Compact Tractor Tires for Snow Removal
Equipping a tractor with the right tires can have a huge effect on its winter performance. The best tires for snow removal commonly feature block-tread patterns with low rubber-to-void ratios and snow-clearing channels. Radial tires generally outperform bias tires in slick and slippery wintery conditions, as they have large, even footprints that place more tread on the ground and ultimately deliver better traction.
Radial tires can also travel at high speeds and travel long distances, which makes them ideal for snow removal operations carrying a lot of accounts or keeping up with large lots. They deliver a comfortable ride as well, which is something everyone appreciates—from the person working through the night to clear snow to the person cleaning their driveway. Yokohama Off-Highway Tires Alliance and Galaxy brands deliver numerous radial tires for snow removal applications. Popular options include:
- Alliance 550 MultiUse: a favorite choice for a variety of applications in all seasons, including winter snow removal. The Alliance 550 features a hybrid tread pattern that blends a classic curved-bar tractor-style lug arc with a directional block tread and results in a tire that excels in the snow.
- Alliance 551 MultiUse: designed to deliver the ultimate winter performance thanks to the use of a special cold-weather compound, grip-enhancing sipes, and snow-clearing directional channels.
- Galaxy Garden Pro/Garden Pro XTD: engineered for small tractors and use on hard surfaces. The Garden Pro features an innovative tread pattern that has a knack for clearing snow and delivering traction even in deep snow and on icy asphalt.
Don’t get snowed under this winter. Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America’s (YOHTA) Alliance and Galaxy brands have a tire for you, no matter if you’re using a bucket to dig out snow drifts in a parking lot or scraping your driveway clean with a blade. Contact your local dealer or rep to learn about our wide range of compact tractor tires and how they can keep you snow- and aggravation-free this winter.