We’ve talked in the past about choosing the right kinds of tires for your riding mower, and the difference they can make in how your mower rides and how easy it is to use. That being said, it isn’t just the type of tire that can effect performance – there are plenty of options for filling your tires that will change their performance, longevity, and how they effect your lawn.
Under-filling Your Tires
You don’t always have to fill your tires to the recommended pressure. In fact, under-inflation can have some notable advantages. It can be kinder on your turf – slight under-inflation can increase flotation, which will keep your tires from digging ruts in the lawn. Of course, it comes with its hazards. An under-filled tire will have uneven tread wear, radial cracking, and sidewall buckling if it is left under-inflated for an extended period of time.
Filling Your Tires with Foam
If you are worried about air leaking from your tires, you have options. Air leaks can happen for a number of reasons, and can cause headaches throughout a long day of work. Air leaks can happen due to dry rot, nail holes, a tire that has a poor bead around the rim, and many more reasons.
One way to avoid air leakage is to fill your tires with rigid foam – after all, if there is no air in the tire, it can’t leak out. There is a good DIY guide that can be found on this page that works quite well. The best part about rigid foam is that it doesn’t add much in terms of weight, although there is the disadvantage that once you’ve filled your tires with foam, you can’t swap it out. At least with under-inflation or over-inflation as well as liquid ballast, you can change your mind at a later date without having to completely swap out your tires
Adding Ballast to Your Tires
Sometimes, a little added weight to the tires can be helpful. While some places have recommended using calcium chloride we’re not huge fans of it – calcium chloride can spur on the development of rust. Instead, we recommend using potable motor home antifreeze. It’s a bit more environmentally-friendly, and if your pets find some leakage and take interest in it, it won’t be poisonous. You can find a good DIY guide for adding liquid to your tires here, or you can talk to your local mower repair shop. They should be able to take care of it for you if you don’t want to mess with it.
Remember that adding weight will change the handling characteristics of your mower or tractor. It will degrade the ride, impede handling, and reduce your ability to control power hop. Also, unequal ballasting can cause axles to bend or even break.
You can find some great resources for working with your tires across the internet – one of the best guides we’ve come can be found right here. Just make sure to fully consider your needs, and understand the disadvantages that each method has.
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