The wheel is recognized as one of man’s most straightforward and greatest inventions.
Where would we be without the humble wheel?
Well using a lawn mower would certainly be a lot harder!
Pretty much any vehicle that has wheels has tires. So that leaves one burning question…
How long do lawn mower tires last?
And then what do you do? Repair? Replace?
Let’s take a closer look…
How Long Do Lawn Mower Tires Last?
In a best-case scenario of a good mower, that is used sensibly and well looked after, the tires should last the lifetime of the mower, which could be up to 20 years. But generally, you should always expect to get 5 to 6 years or 500 mowing hours from most sets of lawn mower tires.
What Affects the Life Span of Lawn Mower Tires?
I would love to be able to tell you that the tires on your lawn mower will last X amount of years, but as you know things are never that straightforward!
The lifespan of any set of tires, regardless of what type of vehicle they are on, will be affected by a whole number of factors.
Let’s consider a few things that can prolong, or decrease, the lifespan of your lawn mower tires. So in no particular order:
- The Type of Mower You Have
Do you have a walk-behind mower? A zero-turn mower? A lawn tractor? In my experience I have found zero-turn and lawn tractor tires last longer than walk-behinds.
- Your Original Outlay on Your Mower
Money does invariably buy quality. If you shell out for a medium to high-priced riding mower with 4-ply tires the tires will last longer (and certainly be less troublesome) than if you buy a cheaper riding mower with 2-ply tires.
- Where You Store Your Mower
If you keep your mower inside, in a dry and warm(er) environment the tires will be less susceptible to rot and should last longer.
- The Type of Terrain You Typically Use Your Mower On
If you use your mower almost completely on a lush, grassy surface the tires should last a long time. If your terrain is sandier, or dirty that life span will be reduced. Furthermore if you regularly make turns on the sidewalk, asphalt, or other hard surfaces it could be reduced further.
- The Slope of Terrain You Typically Use Your Mower On
If the terrain you are mowing is particularly hilly, it will place the tires under more stress and wear them down more quickly.
- The Size of Terrain You Typically Use Your Mower On
Generally small residential lawns use up tires faster than large commercial lawns. Usually because there is more stopping, starting and turning that the tires have to deal with.
- The Size of Your Mower
There might be no real science in this, but based on my experience and that of a few friends, the wider the mowing deck and the bigger the mower, generally the longer the tires last.
- How You Use Your Mower
If you have a riding mower and drive it particularly aggressively, then naturally the tires will wear down more quickly.
- The Weather Conditions You Use Your Mower In
If you often use your mower in wet conditions the additional slippage will mean the tires wear quicker than if used mainly in dry conditions.
- How Often You Rotate Your Tires
When it comes to my walk-behind mower, I try and rotate the tires every time I change the oil. This ensures they wear evenly. Otherwise, I find the treads on my rear tires wear down much more quickly.
- If You Use Your Mower For Anything Else
People often use their riding mower for snow plowing in the winter or maybe for moving dirt or tilling etc. It goes without saying that the more often you use your mower, the more quickly the tires will wear.
So there you go, as you can see it isn’t that simple to put a figure on the lifespan of lawn mower tires, as all of these factors have an influence.
Nonetheless, I will try and answer the question you are all here for…
Lawn Mower Tires: How Long Do They Last?
Ok now let’s imagine you have bought a good riding mower, you store it indoors every night, you have a lush, grassy lawn that is fairly flat, and you mow sensibly and take good care of your mower.
In this scenario, there is every chance the tires should last for the lifetime of the mower, certainly at least 10 to 15 years plus and 1,000 to 1,500 hours plus.
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The more of the variables above that you abuse (for want of a better word), the more that figure will be brought down.
However as a ballpark figure generally, I would say to expect to get 5 to 6 years out of your tires, or somewhere around 500 mowing hours.
But again, just to reiterate, that does depend hugely on how your use your mower, your yard, how you care for it and so on.
For many, when lawn mower tires do wear out, it is because the tread goes completely, or they simply dry rot from age.
How Do You Know When It is Time to Replace Your Lawn Mower Tires?
A burst tire or a tire damaged beyond repair is easy to spot, but then there are things that can creep up on you without notice.
Do lawn mower tires simply wear out? Yes most definitely. There are a few things to be aware of that might signify it is time for you to replace your lawn mower tires.
Sign #1: Dry Rot
In some ways, this can be a good thing!
If you have looked after your mower well, and your tires start to show signs of dry rot, it will often be after you have been using them for a very long time.
Dry rot is caused by prolonged exposure to heat that, overtime, will degrade the rubber in the tires.
If your tire is suffering from dry rot the first signs will usually be cracks running along the sidewall of the tire.
One of the main issues with dry rot is that there can be a lot of invisible damage in terms of air leaks or tread separation that will leave the tire susceptible to punctures, etc.
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I have known people to literally run their mower tires until they fall to pieces, but running a mower on tires suffering from dry rot does present some significant problems.
Namely that the tire could go from being able to support your mower seemingly without a problem, to fully being degraded in the blink of an eye.
If this happens when you are turning your mower or going up or down a hill it could have very serious consequences.
It is always better to be safe than sorry and replace your tire if you notice signs of dry rot.
Sign #2: An Unstable Ride
If you notice your riding mower feels a bit unstable when you are driving it, then the cause could be a worn-out tire.
Lumps in the tire or an uneven or degraded tire tread might cause your mower to shake when you use it.
If you can rule out something like a loose axle nut, take a look at your tires.
Sign #3: Poor Traction
If you are noticing a loss of traction when you are using your riding mower, then the first thing you should do is to check the grip your tires are giving you.
If you have a flat lawn, this is something you might not notice.
If you have an undulating area to cover, then a loss of traction will be very noticeable going up and down hills.
Similarly, if your lawn has sandy patches you will notice a loss of traction on your tires quickly.
Sign #4: You Constantly Need to Pump Them Up
You should not be constantly having to pump the tires on your lawn mower up.
If you are finding yourself doing this regularly, then there is obviously a problem and it is most probably a puncture.
Completely replacing a tire due to a puncture should be something of a last resort, but if it is a bad puncture it might be necessary.
How to Fix a Flat Lawn Mower Tire
If your lawn mower tire goes flat, often all you need to do is ensure it has a good bead seal to keep the tire on the rim effectively.
Simply release the air, and then use a paintbrush to spread bearing grease along the bead of the tire and the rim.
Reseat the tire to maximum pressure for around 10 to 15 minutes, and after that bring it down to the recommended pressure.
This should seal any leaks that might be caused by scratches or rust on the rim of the tire.
As an alternative, if you have a tubeless tire on your riding mower, you can fit an innertube.
Finally the easiest solution to flat lawn mower tires, you can simply plug them up. Combined with a tire sealant, that should solve the problem.
I have often seen people recommend filling tires with foam to solve the problem of them going flat.
I personally don’t go along with this line of thought.
When you fill a tire, it puts more weight on the perimeter of the wheel, which puts extra load on the transmission when you change speed or direction.
It will also eliminate the suspension on the mower, as it has no give and will make your ride a lot shakier!
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So how long do lawn mower tires last? Well, how long is a piece of string!?
In all honesty, as we have discussed, there isn’t a definite answer to this question, but you should be looking to get at least 5 years or 500 mowing hours out of the tires on your lawn mower.
For a good mower, well looked after, the tires could last the lifespan of the mower, so 10, 15 maybe even 20 years.
People usually don’t replace their lawn mower tires because they are flat, but more often because they go bald and the treads simply wear down completely, or they begin to fall apart from dry rot.
Look after your mower, look after the tires and, all things being well, you shouldn’t need to worry about replacing them for a while.