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  1. #1
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
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    John Deere 790

    Default Trailer Tires

    This is a combination true-life story, safety message and question for the experts:

    We just got back from vacation pulling our fifth wheel camper (pretend this is about a flatbed hauling a tractor from now on). Had some issues but I have to start the story a bit earlier. It really starts in 1999 or so, when the trailer tires were made (it's a MY1999 camper). Life has been good, I've repacked the wheel bearings a couple of times and generally kept up with maintenance and upkeep.

    Fast forward to 2006, a couple of months ago. I noticed one tire was worn badly so planned a replacement. Not long after that observation, the tire blew on it's own, sitting in the driveway! Took the tire in and had it changed. No biggie, right. Checked the others for similar wear and found all were fine.

    The trip up north went well, we spent a week in the Mackinaw area of Michigan. The day before our return I did a walk around and found the tire on the other end of the same axle was worn funny, but across the tread not around the curcumference. I decided it would be OK, particularly with a good spare on board.

    Headed out the next morning (yesterday). About a half hour into the trip we have a flat. It was startling, but never felt dangerous or anything. I was sure it was the oddly worn tire but it was the drivers side. Saw some dust/dirt in the passenger mirror so I thought maybe I've got two flats. That would not be good. Got pulled over and found just the one flat. The oddly worn tire was fine. Changed to the spare (hats off to the Michigan State police, the officer stopped and offered assistance. Didn't really need any but he stuck around with his lights on to alert the traffic on the two lane road).

    Drove to the next town for a new tire and I'm already thinking that it's sun damage as that side of the camper faces south on our parking pad. Same side as the initial driveway flat. Nice guy at the tire store says trailer tires don't normally last more than five years if they're stored outside. I take that advice with a grain of salt as he's there to sell tires.

    So we're back on the road and I actually offer a wager to my sons as to when the next flat will be. Not a half an hour later, BANG... flap... flap...flap...

    So this time it is the oddly worn tire, not surprising at all to me. Change this one in record time and nose around underneath. Low and behold, there is a propane manifold and lines directly behind the tire and a chunk of tire has struck the copper line. Kinked it over but no leak that I can detect. I do want to keep the propane on as we have pasties in the freezer! I question the design standards of the RV industry and note that the battery is forward of the front tire on this side with no shielding either.

    On to the next town where we get not one, but two new tires so we have none of the original road tires on the ground. Other than the stress of the unknown for the rest of the trip, it is uneventful.

    So there's the true life story. The safety message is to replace those trailer tires before they go bad but the big question is how do you know when they're going bad?
    Rob
    ****************
    John Deere 790, 70 FEL, 7 BH, 513 cutter and other fun stuff

  2. #2
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Texas

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    Nice guy at the tire store says trailer tires don't normally last more than five years if they're stored outside.
    I think you'll find that he was telling you right. I believe the manufacturers recommend replacement when they've been in service 5 to 6 years.
    Bird

  3. #3
    Super Member Farmwithjunk's Avatar
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    Mt Washington, Kentucky
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    Where do I begin.....

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    Trailer tires get most of their wear from dragging them sideways when turning. Makes for some strange wear patterns.

    I don't know anything that would indicate it, but I have an instictive feeling that the wear pattern you're describing is the result of towing with under-inflated tires. I may be way off base, but I just get "that feeling" when you described things.
    There are three kinds of men;
    1.) The ones that learn by reading
    2.) The few who learn by observation
    3.) The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

  4. #4
    Super Member ronjhall's Avatar
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    SE Michigan, TX when its cold in MI.
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    Kubota 2910 HST

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    Glad you survived the blowouts with no major damage
    Since buying a motorhome last spring. I have been following post on an RV site. http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/newest.cfm One of the most common issues is flat/blowout of tires. One recomendation is to change out tires every 5 to 7 years. The other is overloading/under inflaltion. It is easy to keep adding items to a RV over the years and not realize how much weight has been added.
    One other items is failure of certian manufactures tires. I checked my car haulers tires. They are made by one of the manufactures that has had bad reports. But have had no on the road problems yet.


  5. #5
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
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    John Deere 790

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    Thanks for the input guys, I'll be tearing into the camper this weekend... after some much needed tractor work!
    Rob
    ****************
    John Deere 790, 70 FEL, 7 BH, 513 cutter and other fun stuff

  6. #6
    Platinum Member roxynoodle's Avatar
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    NW Ohio
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    Yanmar 1510d, 1950 Farmall H

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    I recently had a blow out with a trailer and it turned out one of my axles was slightly bent. Probably not your problem, but you might want to look at them real good to be sure. Local trailer dealer was able to straighten it for $60.

  7. #7
    Platinum Member
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    San Luis Obispo, CA
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    1998 JD 770 & 2004 Toro LX417

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    RobS

    In your spare time, you might want to get your trailer loaded for the road then get it weighed. Try to weigh each axle separately and sided to side separately if possible.

    From years of RV experience and more years of reading, I believe that many RV's are overloaded, not only total weight, but also too much on one side or the other or on one axle more than the other.

    RV tires in particular will go bad from lack of use in 5 -7 years as Bird said. I replaced the tires on my Class A although the tread looked great they were starting to get many checks along the sidewall, particularly near the wheels. The tires have oils in them that will get moved thru the tires as they are used which helps prevent them from getting dry. RV tires don't get enough use to keep these oils from moving thru the tire. The exposure to the sun accelerates the drying process and they then fail as in your case. RV tires also tend to sit in the same spot for months at a time, and develop a set to them. If they get soft from lack of use, the sidewalls may also flex beyond the norm.

    You usually don't see this on a passenger car or light truck for several reasons; primarilly because the tires on a passenger car or pick-up get regular use and tend to wear out before they dry out. Plus, a passenger car and usually a pickup is not running at a full load all the time as is an RV.
    It is also a good idea to check that all is well with the axles and spring hangers; that they are aligned and everything is straight with no broken bolts or broken springs. You already mentioned you've repacked the wheels several times, so bearing failure is probably not an issue.

    A flat spot on a tire may be from one brake being out of adjustment and locking up or dragging or simply going on before the rest of them. It could also be a broken return spring in the brakes. With the proper tow vehicle and a well set up trailer you might not feel the brake issue if it exhists.

    Also tire inflation may be the cause of tire failure. On a load range C, D, or E (6,8, or 10 ply rating) the sidewalls are stiffer than on a car and they tend to not show under inflation as readilly. Underflated tires overheat and the already weakened sidewalls will blow.

    In the early 1980's, Goodyear made six ply police tires that were well over $110.00 retail each. They had unusual tire failures which they ultimately traced to the tires running underinflated at high rates of speed. They looked OK on the relatively light police cars because of their stiff sidewalls, but they were in fact underinflated.

    Good luck and happy $3.30 a gallon motoring.

    Joe

  8. #8
    Veteran Member JESSE1's Avatar
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    Kilgore, Texas
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    JD 6400

    Default Re: Trailer Tires

    The tires on my '99 dual tandem flatbed trailer looked good as new, deep tread and no cracking. Ten ply, 235/85R16 tires. Never had a problem with flats. About a month ago I was hauling hay and found after I had unloaded that I had blown a tire on the inside right front dual. Tire actually blew the inside sidewall out and I never knew it while driving. Replaced it with the spare. A few weeks later I was hauling more hay and had the tread come off another tire. After this happened I replaced all eight tires with new ones. Tire store owner said 5-6 years is lifespan of tires, no matter how good they look.
    6400 John Deere w/ cab, JD 535 Baler, 997 ZTR Diesel, 72" 7 Iron deck, John Deere 855D 4x4 Diesel Gator

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