We’ve read here of others’ problems with the Marathon tires, and the strategies that have been used to fix the problem. We thought we’d add our own experience here, in hopes that it may provide more fodder for others to make up their own minds.
We have a 2005 Safari 30’ Bunkhouse LS, which weighs ~8400 lbs fully loaded. We tow it with a 2004 GMC 2500 HD diesel crew cab truck using a Hensley. When towing, we always keep it to 65 mph, and religiously check the tires whenever we stop at rest areas. Our towing is usually of the long-distance type – we’ve gone cross-country twice, and from our NC home to Florida and back twice.
Of the 5 total Goodyear Marathon tires that came with the Airstream, 3 have failed within the past year. When the first one failed, we replaced it with the spare. Now that one has failed (with less than 2500 miles on it), as well as another one. All of the failures have been in the rear tire position on either side of the trailer. All of the failures have been due to separation of the tire tread from the underlying belts (not a puncture/deflation – none of the tires have shredded). The separation causes the tire to balloon out, as you can see in the following photos:
Here you can see that the separated tire, on the left, is larger in diameter than the normal tire (on the right). The normal tire measures 28.25” in diameter, while the separated tire measures 30.5” in diameter.
This picture gives you a close-up of the tread, which isn’t really worn much at all. So it’s not an issue of abnormal tire wear, it seems to be rather that the manufacturing process defective, resulting in the treads separating and the tire ballooning to an absurd degree. The separated tire was still holding pressure (65 psi).
So, what to do? We agonized over this for a while, and read the threads in this forum. We ultimately decided to follow the route advocated by Bob Thompson in his “Tires...tires...tires” thread, and jettison the Marathons altogether. We are in the process of replacing the existing 15” rims with 16” ones, which will then allow us to use the Michelin XPS Rib tires. We have had nothing but good luck with Michelins on our passenger cars and trucks, and are using the XPS Ribs on a utility trailer that is used to carry a tractor and logs. No problems there, either. A check of the web revealed that these tires are highly rated by folks who tow horse trailers, exemplified by this quote:
“These tires are on a very large living quarters horse trailer and they have performed beautifully. We haul all over the US and Canada and we wouldn’t trust the safety of our horses to any other product!”
(from TireRack.com Tire Reviews at The Tire Rack.
Additionally, Michelin itself recommends these tires for trailer use. Here is a quote from their RV tire applications brochure:
“Michelin XPS Rib tires are the best value per mile in the Michelin commercial tire lineup and a smart choice for commercial trailers because of low rolling resistance (for efficient fuel economy), a long-wear rib tread design and retreadability.”
(Downloadable from http://www.michelinrvtires.com/asset...V_Brochure.pdf
For rims, we searched on the web for suitable products, and found the offerings had changed a bit since Bob Thompson posted which models he went with. We settled on the American Eagle Alloy Series 055 16x7, part number 0550-7766. These had the best weight rating of any of the aluminum alloy wheels we looked at, 3040 lbs. This particular model of wheel is being discontinued, so we’ve ordered them while we can!
We will post pictures when the new rims/tires come in, and will update on how they perform during our upcoming trip to the Florida Keys.
Paul and Miriam