Somehow, spring finally arrived, and it’s time to get your lawn mower ready for a season of grass cutting. You probably already know you need to do a lawn mower spring tuneup and give it some fresh gas and spark plugs, but riding mower tires deserve your attention, too. A good set of tires delivers ride comfort and traction without tearing up your lawn, but worn or damaged tires can leave you slipping, sliding or stuck. If you aren’t sure whether yours need replacement, read on.
Signs You Need New Riding Mower Tires
Mower tires are basically rugged balloons. Just like automotive tires, they wear out with use. Also, rubber degrades, belts break and punctures happen. Here are four signs that your mower needs new tires:
- Poor traction: On flat lawns and slight grades, even smooth-tread tires offer good traction, but hills and sandy spots can stop them in their tracks. If you find yourself slipping on hills, your tires might be worn or you might need a tire with more grip.
- Dry rot: Since mowers are used on the grass, tire tread depth might not be an accurate measure of age. However, exposure to heat, ultraviolet light and oxygen eventually degrades rubber tires. This can lead to visible cracking or invisible belt separation. Dry rot can also lead to air leaks or tread separation, and make the tire more susceptible to punctures or impact damage.
- Wobbly ride or steering: This is a good indicator that your lawn mower tires are no longer perfectly round. If you feel the steering wheel or the tractor shaking, check your tires for lumps in the tread or sidewall.
- Constantly losing air: Thorns, glass and other debris can easily puncture lawn mower tires. Tire sealant can plug small holes, and a tire plug or patch kit can fix bigger holes, but cracks and some holes might not be fixable.
Factors for Buying New Riding Mower Tires
There are many options when it comes to choosing new tires. Here are three main features you need to look at:
- Measurements: This is the most important part. If you get the wrong size, the tire may not fit the rim or might rub on the steering linkage, fenders or something else. Tires have three measurements: overall diameter, tread width and rim diameter. For example, this lawn mower tire, marked “15×6.00-6.2,” measures 15 inches in overall diameter, is 6 inches wide and fits on a 6.2-inch rim.
- Tread type: Mower tires need to strike a delicate balance between lawn traction and lawn destruction. “Turf saver” tires are well-balanced for most lawns. Flat or delicate lawns can take smoother tread, while hilly lawns might need deeper lugs or wheel weights.
- Load rating: It’s suggested to stick with manufacturer specifications, or higher, when choosing a tire load rating. Load rating is usually tied to ply or belt count. If you’re using wheel weights or accessories, then going a load rating or ply count higher will prevent premature tire wear or failure.
If you’re satisfied with your current tire performance, then you can simply get the same make, model and size. If you’re having traction problems or your tires are digging up the lawn, then you might consider wheel weights or a different tread.
Gearing up for the warm season means getting your lawn gear in proper working order — and your lawn mower is likely your most important tool. Don’t neglect to give it the attention it deserves, so it gives you a pristine cut all summer long.
Check out all the lawn and garden products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on riding mower tires, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Flickr.
Benjamin Jerew View All
Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.
Replacing a damaged or worn-out lawn tractor tire is easy to do, and a whole lot easier than taking the tractor in to be serviced at the dealership or local repair shop. The first step is to find the right replacement tire. When you are shopping for new lawn tractor tires, there are four primary considerations: tire size, ply-rating, the type of terrain and traction requirements, and of course, the price.
Like any other tire, lawn tractor tires have a series of numbers molded on to the side that spell out specific details about the tire. There are two different sizing systems: two-number system, and three-number system.
Lawn tractor tires using the two-number system display numbers as 4.80-8, for example. This means the tire’s width is approximately 4.8 inches and the rim is 8 inches in diameter. Those are the only two numbers you need to find the right size replacement tire.
The three-number lawn tractor tires numbering system works a bit differently. 15×6.00-6 is a common size. The first number before the “x” indicates the tire’s diameter when inflated and not under load. The middle number between the “x” and the “-,” indicates the tire’s width. The final number indicates the width of the rim. Note that the last number is width, not diameter of the rim. This is always the case with three-number sizing for lawn tractor tires and other garden equipment tires.
2. Lawn Tractor Tires Ply-rating
Lawn Tractors are very rarely over-loaded, but a tire with a higher carrying capacity is also more resistant to punctures because the casing of the tire is thicker and stronger. If your lawn tractor runs over rough terrain with lots of thorns, or you use the tractor for work other than just mowing, consider replacing with a “B/4-ply” rated tire instead of a “A/2-ply” rating. The number of plies is always stamped on the side of the tire. There are only two options, A/2-ply or B/4-ply in the common sizes for lawn tractors.
3. Traction Needs
There are three main classifications of tread pattern types for lawn tractors: mixed-use turf tires, knobby all-terrain tires, or ribbed tires.
- Turf treads are most common and usually have circumferential rows of chevron shaped tread blocks. These are designed to provide some traction on slick grass, while not digging up and damaging the turf. If you are replacing one tire, you can usually find a tread pattern that is identical, or close to identical to the pattern on the remaining tires, or what came on the tractor when new. A good versatile turf tire is the WDT P512A tire.
- Knobby, all-terrain treads typically have large tread blocks and deeper grooves to provide traction in loose surfaces like dirt, sand or mud. These tires sometimes have a herringbone tread pattern, like the tread on a farm tractor. They feature a high void area (space between the blocks) to evacuate debris from the tire. If you use your tractor primarily for towing or other jobs on dirt paths without the mower deck, a knobby, all-terrain type tread like the WDT P328 tire may be the answer.
- Ribbed treads have circumferential grooves and straight ribs that are either flat or slightly scalloped. These patterns provide some lateral stability to keep the tire from sliding sideways, but are primarily designed to roll easily and last a long time. They don’t provide as much traction as a turf or knobby, all-terrain tire.
You can find a large difference in the price of lawn tractor tires. This is due to factors like the brand name, the associated features and benefits, and even the country of manufacture. A few minutes of online research to see typical prices for your specific size of tire will be helpful to manage your expectations and to set your budget. This will likely determine if you are going to buy a premium name brand, or if you are better suited to a cheap tractor tire made in china. Small lawn tractor tires can be found for as little as $20, and can run as high as $60 or $70.
No matter what size, ply rating or type of lawn tractor tire you need, you can find multiple options at low prices on Tires-easy.com. Tires-easy.com has one of the largest selections of lawn tractor tires on the web, a super knowledgeable customer service team, and an extensive distribution network for fast and accurate shipping every time.
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Create an account for free on Tires-Easy.com and check out the discounted prices on a great selection of tires.
In 1837 blacksmith John Deere fashioned his first polished-steel plow. These days, the John Deere company is making self-driving tractors. The John Deere Tango autonomous mower is out there driving itself around distant yards with white picket fences. The Husqvarna Automower competes with it in the war of the mowing robots.
Lawn mowers have come a long way, and now they’re going a long way without the help of a human operator. But for those of us who aren’t interested in letting a robot do the work for us, there’s still the big world of riding lawn mowers and the people who love to use them.
Riding lawn mowers are state-of-the-art, and so are the tires. If you have some serious mowing to do, it helps to have a tire that can handle the type of terrain you need to tackle. Here’s a rundown on the world of riding lawn mowers and riding lawn mower tires.
Difference Between a Riding Mower and a Tractor
A lawn tractor is a heavy-duty beast of a machine for large jobs. Manufacturers took the farm tractor prototype and miniaturized it, attaching a deck with blades to the bottom. Consider a tractor if you have more than half an acre to tackle, and an incline to ascend. According to Consumer Reports, tractors get better traction than riding mowers, so they’re better for hills, and you get a reliably even cut.
The zero-turn-radius riding mower (ZTR) isn’t great for hills. However, these mowers have better maneuverability than tractors, so they’re best if you have plenty of obstacles to deal with in your lawn. They’re also faster than tractors. While tractors cut a 42- to 54-inch swath, ZTRs cut 42- to 60-inches. The best ZTRs cut as evenly as tractors and are a lot like the mowers landscapers use.
If you don’t have a ton of money or space to store a tractor, and your lawn is smaller than an acre, the rear-engine rider may be right for you. Be advised, they only cut a 30-inch swath, they’re slower than both ZTRs and tractors, and they don’t get as even of a cut.
Both ZTRs and rear-engine riders have gas-powered, one or two cylinder engines in the rear, while the tractor’s engine is in the front. There are also electric options, such as the Ryobi R48110. All types of riding mowers can side-discharge, mulch, or bag grass clippings. The best kind for you depends on the nature of your yard’s terrain.
Lawn Mower Maintenance
Like any vehicle, your riding lawn mower requires maintenance over time. An electric requires blade-sharpening, and a gas-powered requires tune-ups and oil changes. Mike Lafollette from Angie’s List recommends taking the DIY approach. To tune up his own mower, Mike spent $30, while the professionals quoted him $50 to $75.
Mike took the following steps to tune his mower:
- Disconnect spark plug
- Drain oil
- Install a new air filter
- Install a new spark plug
- Use a metal file or bench grinder to sharpen the blade
- Add new oil and gas
- Connect spark plug
Additionally, you’ll want to check and make sure your tires aren’t worn-out. A worn-out tire won’t get the traction you need. There’s not a lot worse than finding yourself sliding down a steep incline on a mower. If your riding lawn mower tires are damaged, consult a sizing and buying guide.
Riding Lawn Mower Tires: What to Look for
There are multiple types of riding lawn mower tires to choose from, and you want to make sure you buy a tire that’s right for your mower. If you’re running a tractor and your lawn’s on a hill, you want a tractor tire that offers toughness and traction. The Carlisle Fast Trax is a low profile tire for maximum speed, and it has an aggressive tread pattern for maximum traction on hills.
If you’re running a ZTR, there are specific tires for those too. The Carlisle AT101 has a design that makes it ideal for the maneuverability a zero-turn-radius requires. It also offers good traction so you can get the most out of your ZTR in diverse terrain.
For an affordable, all-around tire that will go great on your rear-engine rider, the Carlisle Straight Rib is good call. Straight Rib tires are tough, with a long life and good traction; they’re cheap riding lawn mower tires that won’t leave ruts in your lawn when it’s a little wet outside but you need to get the job done.
The Luxury of Riding
Overall, a riding lawn mower enables you to cut your grass faster than a manual-reel (the old-fashioned kind), a push mower, or a self-propelled mower. And there’s something downright luxurious and fun about sitting back and steering your way around your lawn.
If you’re like Stephen Volkins, you take the speed factor seriously. Clocking in at 87 mph, Volkins broke the 80 mph landspeed mowing record with the Runningblade—a custom-made mower that’s not even on the market. Don’t worry, there are a number of other luxurious mowers you can buy. As autonomous mowers whir their way into the market, riding lawn mower manufacturers keep making more advanced technology to stay ahead of the robotic competition.
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Tires riding mower
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