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Monday, November 30, 2015

Don't check your tire air pressure. Really... Stop it.

No, I haven't gone off my rocker as there is some logic behind the title and advice of today's post.

For years the advice has been to check the air in your tires every month and on the RV every morning of every travel day. The primary reason for this decade-old advice has been based on the fact that most RVs have at least one tire in overload or under-inflation or both. Also it is a fact that all tires lose pressure over time and since it is the air pressure that carries the load, not the tire, this makes having sufficient air pressure  more important on RV application than with your regular car.

Why is it more important with your RV?  One major reason is that your car probably has a significant margin in the +12% to +25% range while RVs have more like -5% to +5%, with the plus signifying excess air pressure above the minimum needed to support the load.

But this doesn't explain why I am suggesting you stop checking your air pressure with your hand gauge each morning. The reason for making this surprising suggestion is the fact that the very act of checking your air pressure can, in a small percentage of the times, result in a slow leak through the tire valve core. In some earlier posts on "valves" I showed the sealing surfaces of the valve core and why they can leak. In my experience, valves generally do not develop leaks and are pretty reliable, but the act of checking your air pressure does open the core and there is a possibility that a small piece of grit can be introduced into the core air seal and this grit can cause a slow leak.



Ever wonder why so many people who have a tire sidewall flex failure or "blowout" make the statement, "I just checked the air a couple hours prior to the failure"? Well, this is one of the possible reasons for the small, slow leak.

Now, having made the suggestion that the act of checking your air pressure might possibly cause a tire failure so you might consider not checking your air pressure is only a reasonable suggestion IF you have another method of knowing that your tires are properly inflated. We have that method and it is a Tire Pressure Monitor System.

To me that is the ONLY alternative to checking your air pressure every morning, also every rest stop, also every fuel stop -- and even all those checks will miss a majority of the exposure time when a leak can occur. PLUS, the more times you check your air pressure the greater the opportunity there is for the very act of checking if you have a leak could result in a leak.

BOTTOM LINE
If you have a TPMS you really only need to check its accuracy maybe once a season unless you are getting erratic readings and signals. Using a TPMS will not only make life easier in that you don't have to check the tire pressure multiple times a day, but it will also decrease the likelihood of your actions causing an air leak.

If you don't have a TPMS, then you probably should be checking your air pressure frequently -- but just remember that each time you open the valve with your pressure gauge it may not completely seal shut, with a resultant slow leak.



If this post gets you to finally make the decision to get a TPMS you might read my post on Best TPMS to help you make a good purchasing decision.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

RV tire load knowledge survey

Here is a quick survey on tire loading and weighing your RV.

I would like to assemble some facts about what people know about their actual tire loading rather than just what they think they know. This will allow me to provide more helpful answers to questions about selecting the proper cold inflation pressure for your RV.

Also I would like to do a few posts on things to consider when contemplating a change in tire size and this data will help provide guidance for those posts.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY.
It will only take about 15 seconds.

Feel free to forward this post to friends with RVs (trailers or motorhomes)

I would really like to have a few hundred responses so the results are more representative of current real life loading rather than numbers based on historical (ten or more year old) data

We will post the results after we get a few hundred replies.

I hope to have a few more polls in the future.

Thank you for participating. The results should be interesting to all of us.

* * *

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Monday, November 16, 2015

When to file a complaint with NHTSA

I have previously strongly suggested that when people have a tire failure they need to file a complaint with NHTSA.

Got this question "Thanks, Tireman. My next question is when is it appropriate to report to the NHTSA? After any flat? Or are there specific indicators?"


Excellent question as we don't need to be "crying wolf"

If we start at the end of the process I think it will help us understand when and why we would want to contribute to the database of tire failures.

I think we can sum up the primary objective for NHTSA as to decrease the number and severity of injury or accident costs due to a failure of an automotive system or component. One way to achieve that goal would be to hold the manufacturer responsible for providing parts that deliver reliable service for normal and expected operating conditions.

One way to hold a manufacturer accountable and maybe "hold their feet to the fire" is to order and require a manufacturer to replace a part that has been found to have an abnormally high failure rate due to either design or manufacturing problems.

Based on data submitted to NHTSA, that agency decides if an investigation should be started. The investigation could be limited to a review of test and manufacturing data or it could involve NHTSA conducting it's own tests.

So what data does NHTSA use to decide it an investigation is justified? There is suppose to be a combination of warranty data from the part manufacturer plus a review of complaints filed by individuals.

This presents a problem for NHTSA. How should they judge consumer complaints when they know that consumers seldom have the technical knowledge to do a proper or thorough evaluation of a product failure?

So the question really is.... Should the tire manufacturer be held responsible for a tire loosing air due to puncture or leaking valve? It may be difficult or nearly impossible for the consumer to do the proper investigation to learn the root cause of the failure.
It is well documented that over half of RVs on the road have one or more tire in an overload and or under inflated condition. Should the tire company be held accountable for an overload or low inflation?

Bottom Line
If you believe the RV company or the tire manufacturer should be held responsible for the tire failure then you probably should file a complaint.
If you take a few minutes you might even decide the failure was not the fault of the tire company but of the RV company that selected a tire with no margin for any loss of air or load variation.
  You still need to provide tire information but in the last case of poor tire selection I would be sure to include statement with actual measured loads and the small reserve load the tire selected provided.

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