We are often asked what the proper tension level is for rubber tracks. First of all you should always follow your manufacturers recommendations for this and it can generally be found in your equipment manual. But, we know that the manuals don’t always necessarily follow the equipment around as they are being sold. When in doubt, give your local dealer a call and I’m sure they will be glad to assist you.
So what is the answer? Actually, it does vary depending on your machine and the method of determining the correct tension can vary as well. For instance, non-metal embedded rubber tracks which are typically associated with Caterpillar and ASV track loaders have a different method of determining track tension compared to metal embedded rubber tracks or MERT tracks for short. Proper tensioning of tracks will allow your tracks to run properly and keep them from de-tracking. Putting a track on out in the field can be a real nightmare. In the same regards, over tightening your tracks can lead to your tracks stretching, and cords snapping inside the track.
Proper tension for non-metal embedded rubber tracks is determined running a string across the top of the track, applying a 100 pound weight to the top center of the track. This should allow the track to sag approximately 1 inch.
The second type of track is the MERT track. For this track you simply back the machine up a little and then use your bucket to lift the machine off from the ground. Using the natural line from where the rollers ride on the rubber track you should have approximately one inch of sag between the rollers and the inside top of the track. This can even just be approximately two fingers if you don’t have a tap measure handy.
Remember, proper maintenance and cleaning can really extend the life of your rubber tracks. Be sure to clean any mud out daily that might dry up and start cutting into your track. Most warranties are really not manufacturer defects but actually defects caused from poor treatment and operator error. Keep your machine on track and avoid hazards. Visually inspect them daily for tension is always a good idea.