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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Consumer Report on tires made in China

Found this link on a new report from CR.
The tires tested were not ST type tires but the observations still apply.
The author thinks "Chinese manufacturing will follow the historical trend of Japanese and Korean brand tires, which were disrespected at first but eventually became good values in the eyes of the consumer".

I agree. I believe the current problems many are having with China made tires comes from the selection process done by the Trailer assemblers. To me it appears that for many, their #1 criteria is their initial cost. Since they don't have to worry about warranty costs some may be thinking that as long as it is round black and has the correct load capacity to meet DOT requirements it's not their problem if the RV owner has tire problems.

The challenge with tire failures is separating the "Root Cause" for a failure and learning if it is service related (overload, under-inflation and or over-speed)  or if the failure is a design or manufacturing quality problem. Too often RV owners forget that running a tire under-inflated a few months before the actual failure is the primary cause of the failure.

While on vacation I met a 5th wheel owner and of course the talk eventually turned to tires. He admited having tire problems in the past so claimed to be paying more attention to his new RV and its tires. The problem was he also admitted to having towed the trailer with only 35 psi in the tires but since he has now inflated the tires to their more proper 80 psi he was certain all was OK.

After a little more discussion it was obvious he was not receptive to the possibility that he might suffer a failure in the future because of his past actions.

I think the BOTTOM LINE on the CR report is that "some" China made tires do not perform as well as tires made in other countries. HOWEVER there are also "some" China made tires that are competitive with the rest of the market.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Do you have a Dolly behind your RV?

Many people choose to tow their 2nd vehicle "4-down"  i.e. with just a tow bar. Some choose to load their vehicle into or onto a trailer and others choose a "dolly" where only one axle of the 2nd vehicle is on the road and the second axle is on the dolly as seen in this picture I shot in Wyoming.

Now this post is not about the advantages and disadvantages of these three methods of towing a 2nd vehicle along on your travels but specifically about ensuring the tires on the dolly are the correct size and have the proper inflation to help you minimize tire related problems.

I'm going to take a different approach than you might suspect. Many times I start off by suggesting you get the individual tire loads and then consult tables. This time we can do a simplier method.
1. Look at the size tire that is on the vehicle axle that is to be on the Dolly.  In the above case it is a P235/75R15
2. Check the Tire Placard which is usually on the driver door jam. In the above case the inflation suggested by GM is 32 psi
3. Confirm the load rating at that inflation on the OE size tires. In this case 1940# @ 32 psi
4. Confirm the tires on the Dolly are rated equal to or higher than the tires on the axle on the towed vehicle.
In the above case the tires are LR-D and at 65psi are rated for 1984#.

Logic would suggest that since the vehicle manufacturer has staff engineers with the specific duty to properly set the inflation pressure on the vehicle it would be wise to follow their suggestion unless you have specific load information to allow you to set the tires on the dolly at a different pressure.

There is one problem. The owner of the above dolly insisted that the tires only needed 35 psi as the dolly bounced too much when inflated to 65.

Have to wonder if he will remember our discussion when he has tire problems in the future.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Do you want to change your RV's wheels?

by Roger Marble

Here are some things to consider regarding changing the wheels on an RV.

For most RV owners, the wheels that came with the RV when new should work just fine. If you are running the original size tire and have confirmed you do not need to increase the Load Range of your tires to carry more load with a higher inflation, there is no reason to change your wheels, unless you have damaged one.

Now, if you want to change the look of your unit and switch to special chrome or aluminum wheels, then there are a number of things you need to consider:

What is the maximum load capacity of the new wheels?

What is the rated inflation of the new wheels?

Are they the same width and flange contour? This means the official size is identical, such as 16x7J. Note the letter is the shape of the area that contacts the tire. You should not change letters such as changing from a J to a K. One is not better than the other, but tires are designed for a specific flange shape.

Finally, if you run duals, then the "offset" dimension is very important. If you go smaller, your tires may rub, which could cause a problem.

All of the dimensions and ratings need to be stamped into the wheel or in writing from the manufacturer. I strongly urge you not to just take the word of the person selling the wheels.

If you think you need to change the wheels because you are changing tire size or rating to carry more load, you need to work closely with the supplier to be sure you are not overloading the axle, springs or other suspension components, the dimensions of the new wheels will properly fit the hub and bolts, and the offset will not allow the tires to rub.

Tires intended for dual application have specified clearance called "Dual Spacing," so be sure to confirm that dimension from the tire manufacturer before you go wheel shopping.

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