March 02, 2015

10 Wheel Loader Tire Tips for Increased Production and Decreased Costs

Maintain proper tire pressure to maximize loader productivity. Incorrect tire pressure always slows a loader's total work cycle. Low front tire pressures promote excessive side-to-side motion as the boom is raised, leading to slower cycle times. Higher-than-required rear tire pressures contribute to poor fore-aft stability and slow cycle times. Operators may think the machine needs more rear counterweight as the rear tires tend to bounce, but additional counterweight cannot overcome incorrect tire pressures.

Match tire pressures to the application. Damp sand weighs as much as 3,400 pounds and gets as much as 120-percent bucket fill, while large, clean two- to 18-inch rock may weigh 2,500 pounds and get only 80-percent bucket fill. Default tire pressures in your operator's manual may not be right for the material you're loading. Refer to your tire manufacturer's load/pressure tables or contact your equipment dealer for proper inflation pressure by application. Proper inflation provides a high level of traction and longer tire life by maintaining as large a contact area between the tire and ground as possible. If applications are changed frequently, you should inflate the tires for the heaviest materials.

Use differential locks properly. Differential locks can significantly increase traction when one wheel encounters a slippery surface or momentarily loses contact with the ground. However, locked differentials can contribute to tire wear during turns. Differential locks should be disengaged when additional traction isn't needed.

Avoid tire spinning. Instruct operators to use the machine's hydraulics to crowd the material when filling the bucket. Relying mainly on the machine's forward motion to fill the bucket increases the likelihood of losing traction and spinning tires, resulting in accelerated wear. Some loaders, such as John Deere's K-Series-II models, feature a spin control setting.

Avoid obstacles. It's important that operators understand that even though they're running a large machine designed for work in the off-road environment of quarries and mines, the tires they're rolling on are not invulnerable to debris and sharp objects. Tire chains can provide a significant measure of protection against damage-causing obstacles, but the chains themselves will cause some tire wear, require maintenance, and add weight to the machine that increase drivetrain load.

Limit wet conditions. Removing water from operating surfaces can be tough to accomplish, but limiting the amount of water your loaders run in can improve tire life. Water acts as a lubricant that makes it easier for objects to cut or puncture tires.

Slow down. Slowing down may seem counterproductive, but speed can negatively affect tire life. Like water, higher internal tire temps from fast running between work areas can make tires more susceptible to damage from obstacles and tread separation. Slower speeds also allow the operator more time to see and avoid obstacles.

Inspect tires daily before operation. The operator or maintenance staff should visually inspect the loader's tires daily. Check the condition of valve stems have and valve caps. Look for cuts, cracks, and irregular wear on both the tread and tire shoulders. It's important to find issues early, as less-costly repairs may be possible at this time rather than waiting for a major problem requiring tire replacement to happen.

Set up your operation with tire preservation in mind. Minimize transport distances between work areas and eliminate the need to make sharp turns when possible. Keeping roadways groomed properly will also benefit tire life.

Use telematics to help manage your tire program. Don't let tire management get you down. Today's telematics products can often help you manage tires remotely. For example, John Deere's JDLink™ Ultimate telematics service enables users view tire pressure via an Internet interface or mobile app. Tire temperature along with differential lock and spin control utilization can be viewed in the Internet interface, too.