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Old 07-24-2015, 05:24 PM   #1
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Yikes - tires behind the mechanic's garage!

I have a great local mechanic, which is great because I don't really enjoy most of the tinkering on the Airstream. He's knowledgeable and thorough - and even took the time to review and greatly improve my routine maintenance list.

He also remarked, "you should join WBCCI - they all have "maintenance rallies" and many hands DO lighten labor!" Good point.

Anyway we walked behind his shop where my Airstream was parked and I saw stacks and stacks of trailer tires - exploded, shredded, melted and fused to ruined rims, and on and on. The damage to the RV's from those blowouts ALWAYS costs a lot of money, even if it isn't an Airstream... and those are the ones that stay "shiny side up" after the tire or tires go pop!

He complimented me on the Michelins that came with the trailer... and noted that even though they are really good tires they too will have sidewall issues before the tread wears out. We did an inspection, and I'm OK for now but the clock is ticking. But folks, I'd never even consider buying cheap tires after seeing what was behind his garage. $300 extra spent on Michelins seems a lot more economical than $8000 in repairs to the wheel well and body of any RV! Before you ask, there were all kinds of brands - but Goodyear Marathons - being the most common original equipment ones - were the most common ones behind his shop.
Now here's his total "you can't fix stupid" story. I stay at Indian Cove campground a lot, It's an ownership/membership place and my home base. I also travel on short trips regularly unlike about 75% of the membership who simply have their RV's put into the storage lot, then pulled onto a site whenever they want a week or two "camping" or need the space for out of town visitors. Some of the units haven't left the campground in YEARS. (A lot of tar on a lot of SOB roofs.) My mechanic had an owner of one of these mobile cottages which had 20 year old tires. He had a flat and wanted to have a tube put into the "bad" tire and have air added to the other three which were looking low.

The mechanic refused to service the old tires, and had to "bully" the owner into buying new tires - because as he said to me "I don't want to be standing within 20 feet of a 20 year old tire that's having air added to it - because it would be surprising if it DIDN'T explode!"

This was one situation where cheap GYM's are the good replacements, and cost less than $300 with the mechanic delivering the tires to the campground and mounting them for the owner - but the owner couldn't see "wasting" that kind of money once every two decades. I've met Mr. Scrooge and he's still fussing about the cost. Scrooge is also complaining because the mechanic didn't spin balance the tires - which will never go over 5 mph or travel farther and the storage lot. ROTF Stunning, is it not?


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Old 07-24-2015, 05:37 PM   #2
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Must have been fun digging thru all those tires and counting the number of each brand.


Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:45 PM   #3
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There are several trailers at our Airstream only park that have not moved in years. They would need to replace the antique rubber in place (digging out the tire to remove it) before even moving the trailer. They really need to put blocking under the trailer and remove the tires. It will be a real challenge to jack up one side of the trailer if the tires on that side finally fail at the same time.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:47 PM   #4
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Folks do not accept that rubber is an organic compound and decays over time no matter if you use it or not.
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Old 07-24-2015, 06:27 PM   #5
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I'd invite your "Mr Scrooge" to check the internet on the subject of tire life, which applies to ALL tires (not just trailers or stationary RVs) and then maybe after take him to the tire bone yard of your mechanic. Many years ago my Father, a chemical engineer, worked for Gates. He knew a lot about tires (and other stuff).

Repacking the wheel bearings and adjusting the brakes on the new to us (6 weeks ago) 75 Overlander I checked the tires also. Three are the same brand, one is different. Using the read the DOT # guidelines my oldest tire could be original (no way to know for certain), the newest tire is a 95.

The trailer towed from point of purchase ~200 winding mountain road miles at speeds no greater than 60 mph (the happy max of my TV) with a stretch of gusting to 50 mph cross winds and no equalizer hitch to home without mishap.

The treads of the tires are fine, they hold air and only one (the suspected original) shows any signs of cracking.

Would I do it again? Never! There was a time when what is called "extreme sports" was part of my job, I'm retired now and no longer do those things. Why tempt the odds?

New tires will be here in about a week. When they arrive I'll pull the wheels and go to the local (50 miles away) tire shop to have them mounted.

Next year is the tow vehicles turn. The tires on it will turn 5 years old.

Side note - The $ saved from the bearing and brake service paid for a very nice 4 ton floor jack and six jack stands rated at 6 tons. Those will come in handy for the new axles later. The trailer is currently up in the air waiting for its new tires.
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Old 07-25-2015, 06:46 AM   #6
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Fabulous post, Paula! Thanks for making this critical issue rise to the top. Like you, we have a wonderful local garage. They take care of us, our Airstream, and our family cars.
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Old 07-25-2015, 11:03 AM   #7
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Michelins age out the same as any brand.

The Michelins on my camper started blowing the first trip. I replaced them with Coopers (made in USA) that cost about 1/2 the price. I doubt I will travel far enough to wear out the tread on these or Michelins.

The key really is the age.
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Old 07-25-2015, 11:21 AM   #8
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What would be cosidered a date code that is in need of change? Mine are 0212 (2nd week of 2012)
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:07 PM   #9
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Out of curiousity I did a lot of reading after searching "tire lifespan". The write ups varied stating that a tire's lifespan, any tire - car, truck, trailer - is from 3-10 years.

There appears to be no fixed rule since no sun and no weight and not inflated can extend the life. While in the sun, inflated with a load, AND using some tire products will shorten the life of the tire.

An example:
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:27 PM   #10
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Old tires are the problem, I believe.

LT, 16" wheels, China, no China, doesn't really make a difference.

Those that have followed the 16"/Light Truck craze have not had them long enough to need replacement yet.

Airstream converted (due to customer requests) enough in the shop to decide they could mark up the cost, call it an improvement and "be responsive to customer requests" and add profit to new sales.

I buy new ST tires every three years, no matter what and keep pressures checked.

No blow outs, no failures.

Add up the cost of changing to 16"/LT, and still have to buy those every 4 years and I am still money ahead.


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Old 07-25-2015, 12:40 PM   #11
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Those that have followed the 16"/Light Truck craze have not had them long enough to need replacement yet.

I have. I just recently pulled two sets of LT tires out of service due to them being nine years old on one trailer and ten years old on the other ( horse trailers ).
No issues on either.

Would I have had "no issues" with ST tires in the same service ? No way to know.
I don't baby the tires on these trailers. "Keep up with traffic....ahem".
And many times I have to park in places where these tandem axle trailers have to be dragged around in a circle to get position.

I keep 'em inflated and run 'em. Parked outside in the sun, in the dirt.

PS: these were Firestone transforce and uniroyal. Oh yes, one of them was replaced a couple summers ago. Flat due to running over a bolt that stuck in it. Not sure if it could have been plug/patched, but was not willing to take a chance, so it got replaced with a new tire.
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:47 PM   #12
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Yikes - tires behind the mechanic's garage!

My Father was a chemical engineer, helped get us into outer space, later spent a little time working for Gates Rubber in product improvement. Even before retirement he was an avid RVer, and because he grew up farming before tractors was a pretty good mechanic as well as jack of all trades. His car had car tires, his 3/4 ton TV had truck tires, and his RV trailers always had trailer tires - not always buying the most expensive brands since he planned on replacing them at 3-5 years as needed anyway.

I remember one time he quipped, "If there were no need for different types of tires they would not have been invented."

I kind of like that ...
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Old 07-25-2015, 01:03 PM   #13
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That's true. There is always a market "need" to be filled. Even if that need is to provide a low retail price point. Some products are exactly that.
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Old 07-25-2015, 01:08 PM   #14
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That could be true now. But the first tractor on my Grandfather's farm did not have rubber tires. My Father remembered that time, and the evolution of tires as we are more familiar today.

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