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Old 06-28-2006, 12:39 PM   #1
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Tires for winter trailering

OK, it may seem strange to bring this up with the Pacific NW in the middle of (for us) a heatwave but what sort of tire recommendation can people give for towing in snow and ice? Since trailer tires are unlikely to get "worn out" it doesn't make sense to have one set for winter driving and another set for summer and since I'm in the market to replace the 15x7.00 bias ply tires on the trailer now I want to get something that will be good when taking the rig up to the ski area this winter.

I like the idea of the ST rated tires. Everything I've read points to these as being optimized for the special demands of a trailer. I'm don't need a huge load carrying capacity. GVWR is 5800# so load range C is what's specified and what I'd like to stay with. Having something close to 2000# capacity at 50psi and inflating to the original recommended 40psi seems like a good compromise between safety margin and smooth riding characteristics.

The original tire size is 28" in diameter. I'd really like to stay as close to this as possible. A 215/75R15 would be the closest match but all the ST tires I've seen jump from 205/75R15 up to 225/75R15. Conventional wisdom, and what I've found to be true from many years of winter driving in the mountains is "narrower is better". But the 205/75 is to small in diameter and doesn't have the necessary load capacity. I also haven't seen any trailer tires that claim to use an All Season rubber compound or "M & S" tread and that makes a big difference on car tires.

These factors have me looking again at LT tires that have a sufficient load rating. Even then the choices are pretty thin. One I came up with is the Goodyear Wrangler HT in the 225/75R15 size:

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/Spec.j...irePageLocQty=

To my surprise all of the LT offerings are considerably more expensive than any of the ST rated tires.

Also wondering if anyone has had tires siped, especially trailer tires? I've never felt the need with our AWD van and figured there's no reason to reengineer what works. However, the trailer is a different animal. If I stick with the ST rated tires like the Marathon which is not designed for traction on ice and snow siping might provide the edge than I need. What little I've been able to dig up about siping for trailer tires is that it's important to not extend the siping out into the shoulder of the tire. Any of you good folks out in the frozen heartland that have some experience with this?

-Bernie
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Old 06-28-2006, 11:51 PM   #2
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Hey bhayden,
The cost of the tires is relevent to the fact that
The LT tire is heavier duty than the st tire ,thats the way it is .The idea of towing in the snow with the trailer is a thought provoking one for sure.I think
I would find a tire for snow / traction even if its on the trailer as you need
some grip of some kind ,an LT snow tire ,it does not have to be a driving tire
as it just needs to grip any way it can .Siping sure sounds like too much
work ,maybe two sets of tires would be a good idea .

Scott
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:05 AM   #3
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I am not speaking from experience here but... trailering in the winter sounds like a risky venture to me... sway, buffeting from passing vehicles, wind... all on ice or snow covered roads? Also, the salt on the roads will damage the trailer. I hope someone else chimes in here with real expereinces.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac
I am not speaking from experience here but... trailering in the winter sounds like a risky venture to me... sway, buffeting from passing vehicles, wind... all on ice or snow covered roads?
Absolutely right. I intend to watch the weather forcasts closely and if it's unfavorable bag taking the trailer up to the pass or if it's on the return I have the option of leaving the trailer parked for a few more days. However, when you're going into the mountains in the winter you have to be prepared for the worst. Conditions catch even the State Patrol by surprised with how quickly they can change. A 1/2 degree temperature difference can mean the difference between a drive in the rain and a trip down a bobsled run

The majority of my winter driving will be up to Snoqualmie Pass on I-90. This is a major east/west route for truckers. Occasionally you see the big rigs in trouble but 99% of the time it's because some yahoo in a skateboard cut them off or some big old American boat on bald tires ran the "chains required" sign and spun out in front of them. The good news is there's lots of lanes and when it's nasty I'll be over with the truckers climbing the grade at about 15-25mph. FWIW the greatest "amusement" with folks and their trailers has been in the parking lot
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac
Also, the salt on the roads will damage the trailer. I hope someone else chimes in here with real expereinces.
No salt on the roads out here. They use "sand" for traction. Unfortunately some of the "sand" is more like 1/4" gravel. Those rock guards for the wrap around windows are sounding like a sound investment

As far as siping goes it's not very expensive. Don't have the quote in front of me right now but it's something on the order of $10 a tire. As for LT tires being more expensive I've found a pretty close correlation between cost and weight. It's not an exageration to say that you buy tires by the pound.

Buying a set of winter tires and summer tires isn't something I want to do. Changing all four tires on the trailer twice a year would be a pain. It's not like the car where you just pull in to Les Schwab when you feel like some popcorn and they do it for free. The other thing is trailer tires "wear out" because of age. On a car you wear out the softer winter traction compound in a few seasons and you've "saved" the milage on your summer tires. With trailer tires you basicly eat the entire cost of a duplicate set of tires that's doing nothing. I can't see any reason for not running the "winter tires" year around.

The only LT option I've found in in a 215/75R15 or 225/75R15 is the Goodyear Wrangler HT. I might go this route but there's a distressingly large number of negative reviews associated with that tire. About my only other choice is an ST225/75R15 Load Range C. The Goodyear Marathons look like the best bet here. Unless I can come up with a compelling reason to believe the Wranglers would be superior I'm still leaning toward the Marathons and unless there's some evidence to the contrary I'll go ahead and "experiment" with having them siped. Wish I could remember where I saw the article on siping trailer tires and how it was important to NOT extend the siping over into the shoulder of the tire.

-Bernie
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:59 PM   #5
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Take a look at BF Goodrich , Commercial TA . They have a 235/75 /15 in a traction tread and also an all-season tread. I have not tried it yet , but have heard from friends that siping makes a big difference in winter handling on a vehicle . Not sure of the benefits on a trailer but at $10 a tire I would go for it , it should help the braking if nothing else . Good luck
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ticki2
Take a look at BF Goodrich , Commercial TA . They have a 235/75 /15 in a traction tread and also an all-season tread.
If a 235 isn't too wide for the wheel wells and/or the rims then it might be a good choice. Looking at the Goodrich website though I see that in this size the Commercial TA is a P235/75R15, not an LT tire. The load rating is 1985# at 41 psi which is marginal for a Passenger tire.

Looking again at ST tires I saw on the Carlisle of Canada website that in addition to the direct equivalent to the Goodyear Marathons they offer an ST225/75R15 in load range E. Unless it's a misprint in their spec the diameter for the LRE is 30.5", much closer to a 7.00x15 than the 28.3" diameter for the LRC/D tires. I DON'T need load range E! But the rated capacity is at 80psi so I'm wondering what the ride would be like with these at 40psi which is the pressure I was going to run the load range C tires. Same question regarding the choice of Load range C vs D. There's virtual no difference in price between the load range C and D. One source for the Carlisle Radial Trailer the D rated tire was actually cheaper (more people must opt for them). From what I've read the load capacity of the tire diminishes with age and especially if you run them at speed in hot weather. If it's true that you can knock 30% off a tires rated capacity with one long "Cannonball Run" then maybe buying a tire with more margin and running lower pressure is a good move?

-Bernie
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhayden
If a 235 isn't too wide for the wheel wells and/or the rims then it might be a good choice. Looking at the Goodrich website though I see that in this size the Commercial TA is a P235/75R15, not an LT tire. The load rating is 1985# at 41 psi which is marginal for a Passenger tire.

Looking again at ST tires I saw on the Carlisle of Canada website that in addition to the direct equivalent to the Goodyear Marathons they offer an ST225/75R15 in load range E. Unless it's a misprint in their spec the diameter for the LRE is 30.5", much closer to a 7.00x15 than the 28.3" diameter for the LRC/D tires. I DON'T need load range E! But the rated capacity is at 80psi so I'm wondering what the ride would be like with these at 40psi which is the pressure I was going to run the load range C tires. Same question regarding the choice of Load range C vs D. There's virtual no difference in price between the load range C and D. One source for the Carlisle Radial Trailer the D rated tire was actually cheaper (more people must opt for them). From what I've read the load capacity of the tire diminishes with age and especially if you run them at speed in hot weather. If it's true that you can knock 30% off a tires rated capacity with one long "Cannonball Run" then maybe buying a tire with more margin and running lower pressure is a good move?

-Bernie
Bernie , you are correct about the P rating on the commercial all-season tire however it also has an XL after the numbers which means extra load . The traction tire is an LT and if you look at the load ratings they are identical .
I have used the all-seasons on my 25 footer ( second set ) and have had very good luck , never even a flat . At 1935# X 4 = 7940# I don't feel they are marginal, my gross trailer weight is 5800# . I have had no problem with fitment . Good luck
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:48 PM   #8
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I would say that 1st, pain or not , you should have the proper tires if
you are driving in the snow ,2nd , if you are figuring snow is a reality then again the proper tires are a must .Marathon tires are not magic tires that
can do anything, deep mud ,snow ,80 mph or whatever .They are not a snow tire and great caution should be exercised in winter driving .If you slide off the road and your marathons can't provide the grip as needed then what
has been gained? Snow tires for snow .Put a BFGoodrich radial all terraine
LT tire on your coach ,3 ply sidewall ,has traction ,get it in a narrow size.
Some of the all season tires are not going to be any good in snow and ice.
so the tire can dig and grip thru the snow. This thing about the marathon
being the special greatest of all wonder tire is tiring.

Scott
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Old 07-02-2006, 07:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Marathon tires are not magic tires that
can do anything, deep mud ,snow ,80 mph or whatever
well they are not magic, but they are pretty close!

i have towed my trailer in the snow. the marathons do quite well, better than you think.

in addition, at the power company where i work we have lots of trailers. a good majority of the lighter trailers have marathons on them as well. we do not suspend activity because of snow... all of the trailers at work with marathons tow just fine in snow and slush.

the big thing to remember is to lighten up (way up) on the brake controller! if you lock your trailer brakes on snow it will pass you in the blink of an eye.

our big trailers are now getting anti lock brakes, it is a good thing!

john
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Old 07-02-2006, 08:26 AM   #10
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Check out my avatar. That's Housatonic State park in Kent, CT in January in the early '70's. The Metro NY unit used to hold rallies 12 months of the year. Back then, the TV of choice was a sedan or family station wagon. Only 2 people I remember had TravelAlls (no Suburbans or pickups). That's why Airtreams have heat, insulated bellies and heated tanks.My '74 owners manual has a complete section for Winter Airstreaming and claims traveling in the cold winter months to be the most exhilarating experiences. They define cold as zero to -10 degrees as the windows have been tested to -20 degrees. They show a picture of towing (sedans) through a western mountain pass with the snow on the roadside at the height of the Airsteam. I pulled out a '77 manual (no change in text) although the new picture shows a group of groovy kids with their skiis resting on a way too cool 2 door sedan. Another change in those three years: 74 - run car at idle for 45 minutes will recharge battery for 9 hours of use; 77 you only get 3-4 hours. I say use common sense, check the weather and if you wouldn't drive due to road conditions, then you certainly should not be towing.
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Old 07-03-2006, 12:20 AM   #11
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No they are not even close to magic ,its just a very popular tire as nobody
really wants to deviate from what others claim are so great.That tire has the most failures and blowouts that I have read including carslise tires on RV.net
and other rv sites ".Google "goodyear marathon tire failures, and sit back for alot of reading ,I did not come away thinking they were anything
special .You want the best tire ,go michelin ,hands down quality top notch.
They cost more but they are more.Now john hd ,I know some have not had trouble but so many more have.Now it sounds they are not in production
hmmm... The utility trailers ,are not travel trailers so I won't compare them
,and it makes no difference to me how they work on those.Your statement on the brake controller is right on the money ,eas it off ,antilock is the only way to go .I think that tire is completely overblown at this point.

Scott
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Old 07-03-2006, 05:57 AM   #12
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scott

good year did have a problem with marathons a few years back. i think that is what you are reading about. if i remember correctly it was about the same time as the firestone/ford exploder fiasco occured.

i do agree about michelins being good tires, i just don't buy french.

as for who has trouble with marathons i find it interesting that folks here seem to have less trouble than most. that could be due to a couple of factors...people on this forum seem to be a little more concerned about safety and possibly check air pressure more often.

as for utility trailers not being the same, i have to disagree about that. they are abused to say the least. tires at my work are checked for air pressure usually only when the trailer goes in to the garage for it's annual dot inspection or when the rim is on the ground! they are never protected from the sun, and trailers are never weighed to see if they are overloaded.

the only possibility that tires at my work have that may make them last longer is the fact that our big trucks are governed to run at 70 mph max.

anyway, i'm on my 3rd set of marathons on my trailer and plan on replacing them with the same. they work for me sun rain or snow.

john
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Old 07-03-2006, 01:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottanlily
I would say that 1st, pain or not , you should have the proper tires if
you are driving in the snow
My intent is to optimize my winter tire selection and then use them year 'round. The reason most people change out winter tires come spring is because if they don't the softer rubber will be worn out by next winter. When my winter tires were to the point I knew they wouldn't make it another season I routinely "used them up" with a summer of driving. Now that we have an AWD van I've found good All Season tires to be all I need for even the worst of conditions. Then again I'm not working in the mountains and can opt out when it's really ugly. I'll be a even more conservative when hauling the trailer up the hill.
Quote:
,2nd , if you are figuring snow is a reality then again the proper tires are a must .Marathon tires are not magic tires that can do anything, deep mud ,snow ,80 mph or whatever .They are not a snow tire and great caution should be exercised in winter driving.
It's annoying that as Special Trailer tires they don't provide the standard Tread wear/Temperature/Traction rating. As far as "magic" that's what a lot of the hype around siping sounds like. So far all I've gotten are 3rd hand accounts and of course the "hard sell" from the tire dealers that see this as a high profit margin add on. On the plus side real winter tires (as opposed to All Season) come from the factory with siping. Also, dealers like Les Schwab stand behind the tread wear warranty 100% with tires that are siped. Siping is an old trick for rally drivers (parking lot autocross, not Paris/Dakar) . I'm just about convinced it won't do any harm and worth the money to find out first hand if it acually helps.

Quote:
.Put a BFGoodrich radial all terraine
LT tire on your coach ,3 ply sidewall ,has traction ,get it in a narrow size.
One thing I can't give up is much if any ground clearance. The 225/75R15 is already shorter and wider than the original 7.00-15 OE tires. Going to a 235/75R15 is just about a requirement to get the load rating required with an LT tire and then I'm getting considerably wider. A disadvantage in the snow and perhaps even too wide for the fender wells. The other problem with non-trailer specific tires is the PSI rating needs to be maxed to meet the requirements of the trailer. Running less than the recommended 40psi is bound to result in the trailer moving back and forth more, especially with Passenger rated tires. The few that look like they can to the job are still passenger rated even if they have the XL load rating (i.e. BF Goodrich Dualer & Michelin LTX). I think the exception is the Wrangler HP and perhaps a Commercail Bridgstone I haven't been able to track down.

ST tires like the Marathon are not magic but they are designed for the specail demands of trailering. Their big advantage is their load carrying ability. Note that load and inflation pressure are directly related which means the Marathon, especially the Load Range D (E for the Carlisle), can be run a a much lower PSI while still maintaining a safe margin. Letting out some air when the conditions are ugly is an "ace in the hole". They're also designed to keep the trailer going in a straight line. Optimizing for that rather than the vastly different demands of driving wheels and steering placed on tires designed for use on a vehicle is likely why they are rated to carry more load. LT tires have some qualities to recommend them. But as it's been pointed out before to really get the benifit of an LT tire it seems you just about have to go to a 16" rim. That opens up a whole lot more choices and a whole new set of problems.

Does Michelin make a 15" trailer tire? I see they have special trailer tires in their line-up but it appears that they're all for large trucks.

Another brand I'd give serious consideration is Maxxis. This is the "up scale" name Cheng Shin has started selling under. These are made or at least designed in China. They are to China what Goodyear is to the USA or Michelin in France. They don't provide tires to Formula 1 or NASCAR but they have been successfully winning races on bicycles, motorcycles and off road vehciles. They're also aware that to break into the top ranks quality rather than price is all important.
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Old 07-03-2006, 11:38 PM   #14
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Hey bhayden,
the cheng shin company makes the towmaster tires as well .I went online to find out where they were from because they said ,made in china on the sidewall.They worked great on my trdwnd ,from wyoming to santa barbara ca.
They were C range (all they had at Big O tire at 6 oclock on friday evening)
I replaced them with D rated hercules bias .Towmasters are made in more than one place ,but cheng shin is big overseas.

I don't disagree john hd on your sucess with marathons on utility trailers,
but they are not travel trailers weighing 4 to 8000# are they ?I believe the
marathons cannot take speeds over 65mph ,no argument as to wanting to go faster, the tire cannot handle the weights as well .Its not just the old marathons ,but the newer S labled tires ,they are supposed to be better though.Way too many troubles .Google towmaster trailer tire failures ,see
if anything comes up .You are correct that the people with airstreams here
on these forums are very conciencious about there rigs,tires ,pressures
hitches and the like .The michelins on my service one ton chevy are superior
to the uniroyal or cooper ,and goodyear ,or general by FAR ,very smooth
well balanced and they are made in the united kingdom not france ,and no
france is not in the united kindom it is across the english channel .Ive heard of maxxis ,not all things china are garbage ,I really want american made
tires and other products to be the best .I have nitto tires on the 95 impala
,always had BFG comp t/a tires ,wore out so fast ,the nitto tires are lasting longer and handle great ,super tread design .You have to buy what works .
I run BFG allterraine t/a tires on the travelall as it is 4 wheel drive and they are one of the best tires on the market .They are a radial 3 ply sidewall etc.
If you go on RV.net as said and look at the fifthwheel and other huge sob
trailers ,you will note many marathoin tire failures ,even brand new ones
i have read them myself alot.Im a real careful with tire choice and really
searched all over to see what was working and what fails ,carlilse tires
were some of the highest failing tires next to marathons .Just go and do the checking on your own ,No chance they can carry heavy loads as there best feature ,does not prove to be true ,no way .I dont think all those tire failures were made up stories .I do think the airstream trailer does not seem to have near the problems as other brands of trailers do .But any blow out with some consistancy is a red flag .There has to be some reason .My LT hercules have 5 real tread plys and 4 real sidewall plys .Marathons have only 2 ply sidewall
and are 6or8 ply RATED only as to say they can perform the same as a true
multi ply tire .They will for sure be smoother than a bias ,but I would not bet too heavily that they surpass all else ,see ? This idea that they have all these super wonderful qualities and can do all ,i don't get it .The all wheel drive van is what will save you ,front wheel drive in the snow is the only way to go ,then having all wheel and ABS .

Scott
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