Machines are bound to develop technical or mechanical problems. And when it comes to your newly acquired Husqvarna, Toro, Honda or John Deere riding/push mower, you should expect its components to wear and tear after some years. However, when problems like flat tires become frequent, they negatively affect the general efficiency of your grass cutting machine. It goes that lawnmowers depend on tire pressure for maximum traction and performance. Thus, apart from the fact you will often replace mowing blades, belts and filters, tires that keep going flat should be a real cause of worry.
For an experienced handyman or a homesteader, you will agree that fixing a flat tire on a lawnmower is not always easy. Sometimes, the damage is beyond repair and the only option you have is buying brand new tires. Thus, on answering the question of what to do if tires on your mower keep going flat, we would say, there are many things you can do. First things first, it is imperative that one delves into the real causes of flat tires before seeking a long-lasting solution.
We know getting lawnmowers back to a perfect working condition means a lot to homesteaders. Moreover, because getting the best out of these machines is the most important thing when it comes to cutting grass, tires should always be in great condition. Dive in to explore the nitty-gritty of frequent flat tires on lawnmowers, especially how to deal with it once and for all.
What causes flat tires in lawnmowers and how do deal with it
Once in awhile, tires on your mower will go flat. However, it is something that does not always require a quick fix. Quick fixes would only escalate the problem to a point where punctures become frequent. Based on our experience with different types of lawnmowers, when tires go flat often, it signals a problem that could be deeply seated than imagined. It is always that time you dug deeper and unearthed the real cause of flattening tires on your mower. Do they have holes? Is it because of tread wear? Or could it be that tire sidewalls have cracks?
The truth is that some tire problems are hard to determine unless you carry out an extensive diagnosis. It also means that a procedure for fixing flat lawnmower tires varies depending on the cause. But first, take note of the following causes of flat tires:
Rough lawn terrain
As is the case with rough mountain terrains that causes a bike or car tires to go flat, lawn terrain is a factor to consider if your mower tires keep going flat. Look out for ruts, tree stamps, and any other debris sharp enough to inflict damage.
Wear and tear
Old tires are more likely to go flat than new ones. You will experience occasional punctures with worn-out treads and sidewalls. Thus, guarding against such susceptibilities means you must buy brand new replacement tires. Moreover, periodically inspecting your lawnmower tires helps spot problems that are likely to cause unprecedented punctures.
Exposure to heat
Exposing tires to heat is something you should guard against by all means necessary. Heat, according to physical science, causes the air in tires to expand. Consequently, when internal tire pressure goes up, it often causes leakage or blowout in the worst cases. The best solution is, therefore, parking your mower in a shed, away from direct sunlight. Your home garage-the place where you park a lawnmower when not in use should also be far from the fireplace.
Using a pressure monitoring system (TPMS), you should also check tire pressure often, especially in the morning before the day heats up. It helps determine over-inflation or under-inflation. Underinflated are susceptible to puncture, especially when you push or ride your mower over sharp objects. On the other hand, overinflated tires may blow out.
Sharp objects cause tire puncture
Another known cause of flat tires in lawnmowers is the presence of sharp objects on the lawn. It could be broken glass, a nail or a screw. The nature of a tire blowout should shed some light on the nature of the object. Most importantly, inspecting the tires could occasion to a dreaded find such as pieces of broken glass lodged in tire treads. While you can clear lawns before mowing so that they are free from stones, pebbles, and puncture-causing objects, smaller objects are often hard to spot.
Leaky valve stem
Valve stem makes it possible to inflate or deflate tires. You should ensure that mower tires have optimal pressure-not too high or too low to cause a puncture/blowout. The right pressure for lawnmower tires is something we explore next, so keep reading to learn more. Meanwhile, you should note that valve stems also wear and tear or could get damaged. Other causes of damage to the valve stem are corrosion and dirt. Should you discover that the valve stem is causing frequent flat tires, get help from a local service provider/repairer. From our end of the bargain, we would advise that you buy new valve stems before it is too late to make a fix.
What is the right lawnmower tire pressure?
First off, take note that tire pressure should not be too high or too low. Both extremes are always bound to cause problems. You should, therefore, inflate your lawnmower tires to optimal pressure (psi). The big question is whether there is a standard pressure gauge for these machines or it varies depending on the model. The good news is that like tires in bikes, airplanes and a car, determining the optimal tire pressure for your lawnmower is as easy as looking at the sidewall. You should spot a labeling ‘Max.Press.XX ‘where xx is the recommended psi. It could be 30, 34 or 40 psi depending on the type of tires on your mower. For worn-out sidewalls, check the user manual for the optimal psi recommended by the manufacturer of your lawnmower.
The problem with overinflating tires
While the psi labeling on tire sidewalls is to help you monitor the pressure gauge, the temptation to overinflate is often real. We always think overinflating makes tires strong, sturdy and handy. But there is a real danger that comes with it. First, it affects the braking threshold, especially in riding lawnmowers. Secondly, overinflating mower tires begets the risk of a blowout. It also speeds up tire wear and tear. With wear and tear, you should expect more problems such as reduced traction.
Tips on fixing flat lawnmower tires
When lawn mowers tires keep going flat, cutting grass becomes painstakingly difficult. You would rather do it manually than push or ride a punctured mower. But you should not give up just yet. There are a host of things you can do to save troublesome tires. Apart from inspecting them for a puncture, a permanent fix becomes necessary. Based on our experience with these machines, we suggest fixing flat tires by doing the following:
Park the mower on a flat surface
There is a real risk of mowing lawns with flat tires. The rims may bend, and that means you will have a bigger problem to handle. As soon as you notice that a tire is flat, slowly ride/push the machine to a flat work surface and park it.
Jack up the mower
With the mower parked, put a jack under either front or back frame depending on the location of the flat tire. Raise the machine high enough so that the jacked end allows the flat tire to spin freely. We recommend jacking it up by half-foot for stability and easy access to the wheel. It should also give you enough workspace. Put jack stands on both ends and let the mower rest on them.
Locate the puncture
When locating a puncture on your lawnmower, take note that many things cause flat tires. The next question you should ask is, what made the tires flatten? Well, roll out the hanging wheel slowly while paying close attention to objects lodged into the tire tread. When you spot something fishy, say broken glasses or wire, use a pair of pliers to pull it out. Make sure no broken pieces remain in the tire as it could worsen the problem. If there is none, rub soapy water on the tire to locate a hole. A hissing sound and bubbles should signal a leak.
Using a reamer tool, widen the puncture hole so that it is even. You should insert it in and out of the hole severally. For those who are learning about a reamer tool for the first time, take note that it looks like a file (circular) and has a handle. Next, get the tar strip and insert it, but first, remove its protective stripping.
A strip has sticky sides that seal onto the puncture holes. Now, get a threading tool into which you insert a tar strip so that half of it goes through to the other end. You can use rubber cement to further coat the strip. The threading tool should help you insert a tar strip on the hole you made even using a reamer tool. A third of the strip should stick out. Using a pair of scissors, cut the sticking strips as close to the tire as possible.
Time to refill the flat tire
Following the above steps to the letter should leave the patch tightly in place. Now, it is time to test the tire for puncture once again. You can also refill it with pressure while taking care not to exceed the max limit. If the patch does not let out air, roll down the jack and remove it. You are now ready to start mowing your lawn once again. Take note that fixing holes on lawnmower tires follows the same procedure as that of car tires. The only difference is that tires in mowers are narrower and smaller. Should you find the task challenging, we recommend seeking help from a specialist to avoid causing further damage to flat tires.
How to avoid flat tires on lawnmowers
Having a flat tire on a lawnmower is one situation you don’t want experience, especially when busy trimming grass on your backyard lawns. Thus, we suggest that you do the following to retain tire pressure at optimal:
Check pressure regularly
Checking tire pressure is a pivotal maintenance routine. Whether you do it fortnightly or every month, lawnmower tires lose air faster given their smaller size than car tires. If you don’t have a pressure gauge, consider checking into a refill station. Most importantly, especially for homesteaders who have a pressure gauge, a gauge should read both high and low pressures.
Take care of max pressure
Maximum pressure labeling on tire sidewalls does not mean maximum refill. It could be lower. Max pressure means you should not exceed a set pressure limit lest you risk among other things, a tire burst.
Replace old worn-out tires with a new one
Chances are high that tires on your mower are losing air faster than they should because of wear and tear. You can diagnose tires manually to determine if there is a need for replacement. Take note that wear and tear do not only take place on the treads after many years of use but also the sidewalls. Experts advise against using harsh chemicals when washing your push or riding mower lest the tires wear and tear out faster.
Do not park in the open sun
Ever wondered why tires go flat after some weeks, especially when you park a mower under direct sunlight. The reason is pretty simple. Direct heat from the sun causes tires to crack, especially on the sidewalls. Such is a phenomenon that leads to faster wear and tear of tires. You don’t want to budget for spares only a few weeks into buying a brand new lawnmower because of recklessness.
Cut grass regularly
Long thick turf is likely to harbor obstacles that you cannot spot when mowing. Take, for example, sharp stones and broken glass which would prick tires causing them to go flat in the process of working. When you mow grass in your homestead regularly, you guard against such unfortunate eventualities that may cause damage to your machine. You need to have a clear sighting of everything lying about on the lawn before you can start mowing. Pick up the debris that might puncture tires before you start working.
Insert tubes inside each tire on your mower
Tubeless tires have become popular but they come with high maintenance costs. Tubes prevent loss of air hence not having them inside tires means you have to be extra careful when mowing the grass. When tubeless tires hit a rut, there is a high risk of puncture. It is also noteworthy that tubeless tires tend to separate from the rim, hence more likely to go flat than the ones with tubes.
Tubes, apart from keeping tires airtight, also prolong their tire lifespan. For those who do not know how to fix tubes into tires, feel free to seek services of a professional or a lawn mowing service provider near you.
Buy quality and original tires
There is a real chance of buying counterfeit tires today. The risk gets more real for someone who has never considered replacing worn-out tires. So, you ask, what’s the catch with tire replacement? Well, we advise that you purchase quality original lawnmower tires from a trusted dealer. There are more than a dozen manufacturers of tires who enjoy a good reputation worldwide. Original tires will not only last long but also last their value without going flat unnecessarily.
Maintenance tips for keeping lawnmower tires in great working shape
When using lawnmowers, your safety should come first. While we will not look at dangers associated with flat tires, you should ensure they have optimal pressure at all times. Ensuring the longevity of mower tires, therefore, means you do the following:
- Do not run over sharp objects such as nails, harpoons, rocks, cacti, porcupines, thorns, glasses, needles and bolts. You should inspect your lawn for any of these before mowing.
- Construct a cool shed or a garage where you store your lawnmower when not in use. Dry rot on tires happens due to overexposure to direct sunlight. With dry rot, often manifest on the sidewalls, tires cannot contain pressure for a long lime. The risk of a blow out also becomes real.
- When washing mower tires, do not use harsh chemicals. But if you do, rinse off with plenty of clean water.
- Keep tire pressure optimal. Underinflated tires cannot support the weight of a mower hence risk getting damaged. On the other hand, overinflating tires puts them at risk of blowouts, something you don’t want to experience when mowing uphill/downhill.
Tire burst and blowouts are things you don’t want to experience when mowing. Apart from halting your mowing, you are also exposed to risks such as accidents/injuries. But when you know what to do to keep tires from going flat or how to fix flat tires, nothing should be alarming.