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Friday, September 21, 2018

How to take good pictures of a tire tread (Not too technical I hope)

I occasionally  see posts from folks complaining about some tread or sidewall condition but either they can't properly describe the condition or if they have pictures the image is too small, poorly lit or from too far away to allow proper inspection of the condition for me or others to help and offer an opinion.
I recently wrote this post:
Some general guidelines and suggestions for taking good pictures of tire conditions.

Full sunlight and NO flash.
Set the camera to maximum pixels or max quality
Take close enough to only include 8" to 10" of the tire surface. Closer if you have a camera that allows "Macro" or close-up.
If all you have is a phone you need a minimum of 10 Megapixles.
Only use "Optical Zoom" not digital zoom if possible.

Here is an example of a good quality tire picture that would allow someone to make a judgement on a tread surface complaint.

The following, while showing an obvious problem really would not be good enough to show a sidewall or tread cracking complaint.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Do you have to replace valve stems when installing TPM sensors?

Got this question on an RV forum:
"I understand from the thread that you should use metal tire stems with TPMS caps. The ends of the tire stems on our trailer are metal with the only visible rubber part right where they go through the wheel. I am guessing these are still considered rubber stems and should be replaced prior to installing TPMS?"

"Metal" stems can be a bit misleading as some newer stems may have some brass showing. I posted pictures on THIS post showing standard passenger rubber valve, a "bolt-in" metal valve, and a new style rubber/brass valve.
When it is recommended that "metal" stems be used, what is actually meant is "bolt-in". You will see the nut that retains the bolt-in stem on the outside of the wheel for most of these stems.

The concern is that over time (months or maybe years) the extra weight of TPM external sensors may cause some vibration and movement of the rubber stem body which might result is a failure of the rubber portion of the stem.

I am not aware of any testing done on the new style rubber/brass stems with a TPM sensor screwed on, so I and others are erring on the side of caution when we recommend "bolt-in" metal stems.

Cracking and failure of the rubber part of valve stems is another time & temperature aging thing, just as it is with your tires. You visually inspect your tires monthly, as outlined in your RV  owner's manual, so just include the rubber part of your valves and just as you would replace your tires when signs of significant signs or aging (cracks) are found do the same with your valves. 

You could consider running your current valves until you get new tires and at that point have the bolt in valves installed. In the meantime, I would take a close look at your stems when doing your monthly visual inspection. You can push sideways a bit on the rubber/brass stem and look for any cracks. If you find any, that would mean you need to replace them sooner rather than later.

Friday, September 7, 2018

WARNING - Super Technical Post Tire failure and Interply Shear

I have had some folks who seem to want to replace Science with what they term "common sense".
In my opinion, this is why some people still think the Sun and rest of the Universe rotate around the Earth or that believe the Earth is flat or the Moon landing is a hoax simply because they don't understand the Physics and Science behind the stated facts.

I mention this because I continue to get people claiming that because they checked their tire pressure last week or yesterday and had a tire failure today, some sort of "magic" must have happened to cause their 65 psi or 80 psi tire to suddenly go sky high in pressure to cause the tire to explode due to high pressure. You don't have to do the technical research yourself just as you don't go to medical school to learn about some ailment you have. You do have a choice. You can trust your Doctor or go to Medical School or in the case of tire failure, you can put your trust in those who have spent years working on and constantly improving tire design, or you can simply believe that tires fail because of some unidentifiable "defect" that was built into the tire.

I have previously posted on how Sidewall Flex Failures can easily mislead the inexperienced into believing they had a "blowout due to high pressure." I also have some who do not want to accept the Science behind the need for tires in trailer application to run lower speeds and higher inflation in an effort to lower (but not eliminate) the probability of Belt Separation.

So I decided it is time to get out the "Big Guns" and cite some actual tire Science.

Here is a question from someone who took issue with my recommendation to increase the inflation in trailer application.

Did you ever notice that the two rear tires on the tow vehicle are putting hundreds of horsepower to the road? Did you ever notice that the two front tires are steering the whole assembly?
Here is my reply:

Yes, I have noticed that. I also know that the internal structural forces are different for torque than for high "slip angle" which is the situation in trailer application. Front tires on cars, motorhome or tow vehicles do go through slip angle but usually in the 1° range while trailer tires are subject to angles in the 10° and greater range. The forces are NOT linear. 10° can generate significantly more shear than 1°.

If you want you can purchase the software package HERE for the vehicle response and handling. The results of this vehicle simulation show the vertical and side loads being applied to tires as you drive around a corner. These forces can then be used as the input into Finite Element software programs to determine the structural loads on tire components.

Here is is a technical paper on "Interply Shear Stresses and Coupled Deformations of a Folded Belt Structure Under Extension"

Personally, I prefer Dr. Song's paper on"FATIGUE OF CORD-RUBBER COMPOSITES FOR TIRES."
Here is the abstract.
Fatigue behaviors of cord-rubber composite materials forming the belt region of radial pneumatic tires have been characterized to assess their dependence on stress, strain and temperature history as well as materials composition and construction. Using actual tires, it was found that interply shear strain is one of the crucial parameters for damage assessment from the result that higher levels of interply shear strain of actual tires reduce the fatigue lifetime. Estimated at various levels of load amplitude were the fatigue life, the extent and rate of resultant strain increase (“dynamic creep”), cyclic strains at failure, and specimen temperature. The interply shear strain of 2-ply ‘tire belt’ composite laminate under circumferential tension was affected by twisting of specimen due to tension-bending coupling. However, a critical level of interply shear strain, which governs the gross failure of composite laminate due to the delamination, appeared to be independent of different lay-up of 2-ply vs. symmetric 4-ply configuration. Reflecting their matrix-dominated failure modes such as cord-matrix debonding and delamination, composite laminates with different cord reinforcements showed the same S-N relationship as long as they were constructed with the same rubber matrix, the same cord angle, similar cord volume, and the same ply lay-up. Because of much lower values of single cycle strength (in terms of gross fracture load per unit width), the composite laminates with larger cord angle and the 2-ply laminates exhibited exponentially shorter fatigue lifetime, at a given stress amplitude, than the composite laminates with smaller cord angle and 4-ply symmetric laminates, respectively. The increase of interply rubber thickness lengthens their fatigue lifetime at an intermediate level of stress amplitude. However, the increase in the fatigue lifetime of the composite laminate becomes less noticeable at very low stress amplitude. Even with small compressive cyclic stresses, the fatigue life of belt composites is predominantly influenced by the magnitude of maximum stress. Maximum cyclic strain of composite laminates at failure, which measures the total strain accumulation for gross failure, was independent of stress amplitude and close to the level of static failure strain. For all composite laminates under study, a linear correlation could be established between the temperature rise rate and dynamic creep rate which was, in turn, inversely proportional to the fatigue lifetime. Using the acoustic emission (AE) initiation stress value, better prediction of fatigue life was available for the fiber-reinforced composites having fatigue limit. The accumulation rate of AE activities during cyclic loading was linearly proportional to the maximum applied load and to the inverse of the fatigue life of cord-rubber composite laminates. Finally, a modified fatigue modulus model based on combination of power-law and logarithmic relation was proposed to predict the fatigue lifetime profile of cord-rubber composite laminates."

Let's see if I can help. Here is a key phrase "the fatigue life of belt composites is predominantly influenced by the magnitude of maximum stress."  Now, think of the tire side bending when you back a trailer into a campground site.

The video in THIS post shows the side loading during relatively low angle turns

I apologize for going so deep into tire engineering but sometimes the facts are needed to demonstrate that "common sense" doesn't always lead to the actual facts.  Before writing my posts on Interply Shear on trailer tires I had both vehicle simulation and tire structural shear forces run. We learned that for tires on multi-axle trailers, like RV trailers, the belt shear forces can be 24% higher than the belt shear forces of identical size, load and inflation tires on a motorized vehicle. This is why I suggest a different approach to tire inflation for trailer application than motorhome applications.

I will try and "lighten up" a bit in the next few posts.


Friday, August 31, 2018

TPMS Comparison TireTraker external vs TST 507 internal. Summary and my opinion

Since March I have been conducting a comparison test of two different TPM systems. When I started in March the Ambients were down near freezing. I completed my comparison at the end of July with the ambient temperature above 90°F.
I started by checking the accuracy of the various sensor pressure readings. The summary of that post indicated there was no meaningful difference between the systems for pressure readings for the 12 sensors I tested.

In THIS post I confirmed the temperature readings were also essentially the same by comparing the morning readings after a night long temperature soak.

The next step was to see what the systems reported for the hot running temperatures. I expected that the numbers from the internal system would be higher than the numbers from the external sensors. The reason for this is that the external sensor is actually reading the temperature of the outer end of the metal valve stem that is wiping around in outside air being cooled. The small collum of hot air inside the valve stem just can't transfer enough heat as fast as the metal (brass) valve stems is being cooled off. Here are the numbers. But I had to wonder if the cold ambients might somehow be skewing the data so, knowing I was planning to travel to Indiana in April, Michigan in June and  Wyoming in July I was hoping that the ambient temperature on one or more of these trips would be significantly warmer than my March trip.

In June I posted my opinion on the value or lack thereof of temperature readings from TPMS. This opinion was not based on any specific results from my testing but just from some serious contemplation to tire temperature recording I had been involved with when working on Indianapolis race car tires and my observations in test laboratories while I worked as a tire design engineer.

Back in May 2012, I posted some actual running temperature images recorded by some high priced laboratory instruments. You can see the results here. Clearly using a handheld IR gun after you come to a stop or depending on the temperature of the air inside the tire, which is obviously an "average" of the hot and cooler areas of a tire, is not going to give you a reading of the hottest part of a running tire. 
If we are concerned about the advanced warning of a tire failure, tire temperature numbers from a TPMS is not going to be sufficiently precise to identify the temperature of the hot spot. While high temperature can lead to a tire failure, the failure will most likely occur at the hottest spot which is not the "average" of the internal surface of a tire. Also, extended periods of time at elevated temperature can contribute to the degradation of rubber which could eventually lead to a failure like a belt separation while never being hot enough to set off the high-temperature alarm.

Finally, in July, I could review the results of my readings with higher ambients of the different readings observed with the internal TST 507 system vs the external Tire Traker system.

In mid-Aug I posted the test results of the external Traker system vs the internal TST system.

OK, so what is the bottom line?

IMO the performance of the two different systems is similar enough to make recommending one over the other impossible.

There is a cost penalty with the internal system of a little over $100 plus any purchase price difference. Looking at the two different web sites I find the 6 sensor Tire Traker system with booster available at $398.  The Truck System Technology 6 sensor internal system with the booster is listed at $599. You will need to figure there will be an extra charge to pay for the dismount, mount, and balance of the internal system. I had the TST system installed locally for $109.07 which would bring my total to $708. 
To answer the question some of you may have. I purchased and use a Tire Traker TPMS in 2009 befroe I started this blog and plan on continuing with that system for the foreseeable future.

The advertisement you see on this blog does not involve me as it is between any advertiser and

Friday, August 24, 2018

When should you replace your tires? HOW OLD is too old?

A lot of folks talk about tire age and when they "age out."

Here is what a few tire companies have to say:

Passenger & Light Truck Service Life

Japan Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (JATMA) recommendation: At 5 years have tires inspected by "Qualified tire service person" and no matter the condition replace any tire at 10 years.

Bridgestone & Firestone issued a Tech Bulletin that supports the 10-year maximum but advises that "some tires will need to be replaced before 10 years due to operational conditions.

Michelin, Falkin, Yokohama and Vredestein suggest tires be inspected by specialist annually starting at 5 years and replaced at 10 years as a precaution "even if such tires appear serviceable and even if they have not reached the legal wear limit"

GM recommends tires be replaced after 6 years

Hankook says to replace tires 10 years after manufacture "even if the tire was never used"

Goodyear, Continental and Cooper do not give a maximum calendar age but stresses "Monthly Inspection" along with proper storage and monitoring of inflation pressure.

Kumho says to have tires inspected annually starting at 6 years and to replace the tires at 10 years, even if the tires appear serviceable.

Vredestein suggests tires be inspected by specialist annually starting at 5 years and replaced at 10 years as a precaution even if such tires appear serviceable and even if they have not reached the legal wear limit. They also say that tires on trailers, campers, horse trailers and caravans (motorhomes) be replaced at 8 years.

They are talking about the annual inspections after 5 years to be done by a "Tire Specialist", not just anyone that sells tires. I would suggest that when having this inspection done you ask for a written assessment as a minimum. You can ask if the dealer has an ATS Certified Technician on staff.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Internal vs External TPMS comparison Hot ambient

Since March I have been conducting a comparison of a couple different TPM systems. One from TST has internal sensors, as seen here.

Please note this shot shows the TPM sensor and the steel band retainer. I was in the process of removing the extra band material as this is a 16" wheel. A larger wheel would need a longer band.

The other from TireTraker has external sensors that screw onto the end of your metal valve stems. Or as I did on the end of my dual tire extension hoses seen here.

I also had some TST external sensors that mount on valve stems and look very similar to the TireTraker brand sensors.

This is the final post on the direct comparison of different sensor location. I previously posted results HERE but there was a question raised as the internal system was one brand from TST and the External sensors were from TireTraker. We needed to learn if the minor differences were due to the different brand or the different sensor location.

To accomplish this I mixed the external sensor brands and used three external sensors from TST vs three from TireTraker. Here are the numbers.

Ambient was in the upper 80s to lower 90s for this part of the test.

Internal vs External TPMS test results

All temperatures are in °F and pressure in Psi
Internal System.            
Temp.  RF 102   LF  102    RRO  104   RRI  109   LRI   113   LRO  106
Press          69           70                 82              84              84              86

TST External System
TEMP    RF  86                                      RRI   84                         LRO   86
Press           70                                              84                                  86

Second run
Internal System.            
Temp.  RF 108   LF  111    RRO  115   RRI  124  LRI   117   LRO  109
Press         70           71                 84              87              84              87

TST External System
TEMP    RF  79                                      RRI   90                         LRO   82
Press           71                                               86                                    87

Tire Traker External System
TEMP                    LF  78     RRO   100               LRI   91
Press                          70                  82                         83

Now I realize that reading the above doesn't make the differences and similarities obvious or even easy to see so here is a summary of the findings.
TST system  External vs Internal pressure readings are essentially the same
TST system  External temperature readings run 20F to 30F cooler than TST Internal temperatures.

TST system internal sensor pressure vs external sensor pressure readings Tire Traker are essentially the same
TST internal temperatures readings run 15 to 33 (average 25F) hotter than Tire Traker external temps.

Reviewing the above results and the results posted in the July 20 report and the two March reports from tests with Ambient in the 30s and 40s, it is my considered opinion that both TST and TireTraker systems provide similar numbers for inflation pressure and that external sensors report temperatures that are 20F to 30F cooler than internal sensors for both brands.

Given the above comparison on the data readings, I would consider these two systems a toss-up for reporting the temperature or pressure, as long as you remember that external sensors are being cooled by external ambient so will report 20F to 30F lower temperatures.

There are some differences between the two systems and some of these are subjective. I will cover these differences in a future post.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Do inner duals fail more often? If so, why?

Read this on an RV Forum thread:

"Isn't it weird how it always seems to be the inner tire that goes bad or blows? Seemed to always be my experience (bad luck) when I was driving semi's for a living."

While I have never seen a documented study, I can certainly believe this observation can be made by many. There is Science behind the "Why" this may be true.

For those that have reviewed the post on Tire Covers that explains the effect of temperature on tires, you have learned that it is the higher temperature that accelerates the tire "aging" process. If you look at the temperature readings on sets of dual tires you will see that when the tires are inflated to equivalent pressures the temperature of the inner dual on Motorhomes will usually show as a bit hotter. The difference isn't a lot but the effects of that difference I believe are cumulative.

It is also true that older tires are more likely to fail due to the degradation of the rubber flexibility and strength.

Please do not take this observation and assume you need to start adjusting the inflation in your duals to run more air in the inner tire. Doing this could end up resulting in a shift in loading between the pair of tires to place more load on the inner tire, and we know that increased load results in increased operating temperature.

Tire operating temperature develops from complex actions of flexing of the belts and of the lower sidewall which are the two hottest locations on a tire. You might be able to lower the temperature in one location while increasing the temperature in a different part of the tire.

The best practice I can suggest is that you:
1. Confirm the tires in each pair of duals are a "Matched Set" (See THIS older post).
2. Ensure you know the actual load on each set of duals not just the total axle load.
3. Use the Load and Inflation tables to learn the MINIMUM Cold Inflation Pressure for the heavier loaded axle end.
4. Add a 10% inflation to that minimum number to establish your CIP.
5. Inflate all tires on the axle to the same CIP. (matching the inflation within +/- a couple psi is good enough.
6. Run a TPMS to monitor your pressure whenever driving.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Can you change tire size on your RV?

There seems to be a bit of confusion when it comes to selecting tires to replace the size/type that came as Original Equipment on your RV. What you can do and what you should do are not always the same thing.

Here are some statements collected and posted by a knowledgeable person who frequently responds to questions on some RV Forums.

"Goodyear: Never fit tires to a vehicle that have less load carrying capacity than required by the Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Michelin: Never choose a tire that is smaller in size or has less load-carrying capacity than the tire that came with the vehicle.

Cooper: The new tires must have a load carrying capacity equal to or greater than the maximum load carrying capacity specified on the tire placard on the vehicle.

Toyo: Any replacement tire must be of a size and load range that will offer equal or higher load carrying capacity compared to the original equipment (OE) tire on the vehicle

I am not aware of any "legal" requirement that specifies what the RV owner is required to do. While it is a legal requirement from DOT that the vehicle manufacturer must select and specify tires and the inflation necessary to support the stated Gross Axle Weight Rating, as far as I know, this legal requirement does not apply to individual owners of vehicles.

HOWEVER, I doubt that you will find any company or responsible individual willing to state that it is good practice to select replacement tires that do not have a stated load capacity that is equal to or greater than the load capacity of the original tires.

All tires sold for use on public highways have a stated maximum load capacity at a given inflation pressure molded onto both sidewalls. This fact, along with the information in published Load/Inflation tables, makes it relatively easy to find tires with the needed load capacity.

There are a number of reasons to consider an alternate size tire (availability, cost, brand reputation, etc.) but in every case you should only select new tires that can support at least as much load as the OE tires.

The above is based on an assumption that the load on your tires is split equally 50/50 side to side on each axle. Since this is seldom the case, this is an extra bit of information you should consider when shopping for new tires.

I have numerous posts on this blog where I outline the importance of confirming the actual load on each end of each axle. This is because it is possible to have the load unbalanced to the point that one tire may be overloaded even if the total tire load capacity for all the tires on an axle numerically exceeds the total axle load measured on a truck scale.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Question on radial tire belt "Interply Shear" or IPS

Originally posted on Airstream forum, but the answer applies to anyone running radial tires.
"From my reading, if you see a post where the tire failed with the tread coming off AND the tire carcass still held air pressure, that is likely to be an inter-ply shear failure. It is my understanding of the issue, that inter-ply shear (twisting of the tire) breaks the bond of the tread from the tire carcass. This may start as a small section that can be seen as a bubble under the tread. Then rolling the tire expands the failed area until in all comes apart.

For what it's worth, I've seen plenty of these in various posts. I suspect it is also possible for the tread to separate from the carcass and in the process of self-destructing, punctures the tire carcass resulting in tire deflation.
Do I understand the consequences of a high level of  IPS?"

My reply:

The short answer is YES.

OK, now to the questions of IPS (nice acronym BTW).

If you have reviewed my numerous posts that mention IPS you can learn the background and the steps suggested to lower this destructive force.

All radial tires exhibit this force. It is a function of having belts under the tread that are at a high angle relative to the low angle body ply. Here low angle is about zero with the body ply running radially from bead to bead. Belts are generally in the range of 60 to 70 degrees relative to the body ply. The two belts ply or layers run in opposite direction and for the width of the tread. NOTE:  Different tire companies use a different reference for the "radial." Some call that 90 degrees and they say their belts run in the 20- to 30-degree range, but the result is the same as only your reference changes.

Do tires ever fail due to IPS? Yes, it is these forces that initiate microscopic cracks which grow over time and use. Air loss or not is not a controlling factor as air loss can occur because the belts have separated from the body, which allows tearing of the rubber between the body ply cords, which then leads to air loss. This can occur in fractions of a second so the air loss is indistinguishable from the belts and tread detaching from the body. The rapid loss of air can sound "explosive," which leads many to use the catch-all term "Blowout".

In THIS post the two PRIMARY reasons for tires to fail are covered. We are not talking about air leak here.

It is the air pressure that supports the load, not the tire construction. (Yeah, the tire does support some of the load but maybe only 5% at best, so we are discounting that.)

In general, a stiffer tire can generate higher cornering force than a tire with low inflation. Cornering force is not just from the contact area. This is well known in the racing community as our tires generally run higher pressure than we would run on the street. I know this from first-hand experience running and winning numerous road course events in my Camaro.

(6-time winner of the 24-hour race at Nelson Ledges, Lap records at 6 different tracks including Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and others.) I ran real "DOT street tires" as required in my class, not special-purpose-built racing tires that wouldn't last 15,000 miles of street use. Those other tires were only available from race tire dealers. Most of the time I ran 34 to 36 psi cold vs. an estimated 20 to 22 psi, which is what I would have needed to simply support the actual load -- so clearly more contact area from lower inflation did not provide race winning results.

We don't need to get into the sales (price) and marketing decisions of RV companies on what size, type or brand tires they supply. We as RV owners are trying to get the best durability and overall performance from the tires we run on our RVs.

Tire durability (not coming apart) is our number one goal. You can choose to follow our recommendations or not. All I ask is that you not complain if or when you have a "Blowout" that has the root cause of the failure traced to a failure to follow my recommendations. Lowering the IPS force can be accomplished by increasing the margin between the tire load capacity at a given inflation and the actual load on your tires.

You can accomplish this with larger tires or by unloading your RV, but not everyone can do those things. This leaves increasing the tire pressure. Especially on multi-axle trailers, you need to do all you can to increase the margin, and running the inflation molded on the tire sidewall can be done by, and is recommended for, trailer owners.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Internal vs External TPMS test results

Previously I posted the test results for my comparison of internal vs external sensor TPM systems. The weather was cool to cold back in March. Now I can report the results with the ambient in the upper 80's.

All temperatures are in °F
Internal System.
RF 102   LF  104    RRO  104   RRI  111   LRI   111   LRO  102

External System
RF  73   LF  75   RRO  71   RRI   71   LRI  82   LRO   80

I was driving 65 mph with cruse on a level stretch of Interstate. The Sun was fully on the left side of the RV.

Difference  Internal - External
 RF  29   LF  29   RRO  33   RRI   40   LRI  29   LRO   22

These results tend to match the previous runs with the internal reporting about 30F hotter than the external sensors.

Again I do not consider the results of a comparison between the temperature readings to be "meaningful" in the sense that the internal sensor numbers are useless.

Suggestion:  If you have an external sensor TPMS I would continue to use that system. Just be aware that the temperature readings are probably in the range of 27 to 40 F cooler than the temperature readings your friend would be getting with their internal sensor system. If you are concerned you could change your High-Temperature warning level with your external sensor system from the factory 158°F to about 145°F.  Just be aware that if in Phoenix or Death Valley or other location where the Ambient exceeds 120°F  you may get a high temp warning. If you do just pay attention to the pressure readings to be sure you are not losing any air pressure.

Since tire temperature is also a function of load and speed you might bump up the High-Pressure warning level 5°F till you are not getting a warning simply because it is hot outside.  Of course, it might also help to slow down a bit as that will also result in lower tire temperature.

Bottom Line:
There is a difference between temperature readings based on sensor location. BUT this does not automatically make one type of system better or worse than another. As I said in THIS post I am not a fan of TPMS temperature readings no matter which type sensor you run.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Selecting alternate or replacement tires for large / heavy trailers

Found a thread on a forum for folks who own large heavy 5th wheel trailers. This info would apply to non-5'ers too.

While I understand the concern for the tire dimensions, that is NOT the most important specification.
Number one is to ensure any replacement tire is capable of supporting the load you are placing on your tires plus a margin.

The best thing to do is to first confirm your actual tire loading.
Ideally, you would get on a scale, with the RV loaded to the heaviest you ever expect to travel with, and learn the actual load on each tire as there are very few RVs with the load split evenly axle to axle or side to side.
HERE is a worksheet you can use.  You will have to do some hunting around as you can't get individual loading on most truck stop or CAT scales. You will need to find a local building supply or feed or grain dealer or gravel pit or possibly cement delivery company.

Lacking that you could use a truck scale but to be safe you need to apply some math to estimate the load unbalances.
First, assume a split of 52/48 between axles or with a three axle trailer assume one axle is supporting 35% of the total. Then assume a 53/47% split on the heavier axle for side to side loading.  Yes, some RVs have been measured with individual position scales and found 1,000# un-balance.

So with the measured or calculated heaviest loaded tire, and the dimensions checked, you are ready to shop for tires.

You need to realize that ST tires have a higher load capacity than LT type tires. This is because the load formula for ST type tires is based on a max speed of 65 mph even if the "Handling rating" speed symbol suggests differently. So you can't just use the numbers when comparing tire sizes as an ST235/75R16 carries significantly different load than an LT235/75R16  even with the same Load Range ( D or E or F etc)

You can then consult the Load & Inflation tables for the tires under consideration. The good news is that with the exception of Michelin 99+% of the tires out there follow the same table info so you can use Bridgestone or Goodyear etc for LT and Maxxis or Goodyear for ST type tires.. You can look at different tables HERE if you want.

When selecting a tire you need to get the tire capacity at least 15% greater than for your measured or calculated tire load. This allows for sway, load shift due to road crown and wind side load to the tires you are buying.

After you do the above THEN you can confirm tire dimensions knowing the load capacity needed.

On my blog, I cover why you should run the inflation number molded on the tire sidewall (lower the Interply Shear) and why you should always run a TPMS along with other info on Interply Shear and the effect of temperature on tire pressure.  You might even subscribe.

Hope this helps.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Are TPMS of much value ?

Some people still question the need or value of using a TPMS. Some claim that checking tire temperature with an IR gun or touch with the back of their hand every two to three hours is sufficient. They seem to forget that it is possible to destroy a tire in as little as 10 minutes.
Others still think they know what an underinflated tire "looks" like but I have repeatedly demonstrated with hundreds of participants at my RV Tire Knowledge Seminars that no one is able to identify the difference between 35 and 14 psi in a P type tire or the difference between 46 and 66 in a LT tire. Some folks just don't feel the cost justifies the value of an advanced warning of an impending tire failure.
Well, I ran across the following post on an RV forum thread on tire failure on an RV.

With permission of the author:
 FYI....Be maniacal about checking tire pressure and invest in a TPMS system if you have not already.
This past week, two incidents proved that a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) investment is worth every penny.

Coming back from a long trip on Memorial day, my caravan friends, who did not have a TPMS on their 5th wheel toy hauler, lost pressure in a rear tire which became overheated and eventually blew on the interstate. The damage the blown tire caused to their meticulously maintained RV added up to $3000 in body work. I hear this is typical...and often at the low end of cost for damage when a tire blows. My buddy has talked about investing in TPMS...but chose not to spend the $. The insurance deductible alone for the damage was $500. Lesson learned.

A few days later, I was back on the interstate headed for a camping trip to the lake with my 5th wheel toy hauler. I have invested in a TPMS....and am so glad I did. At 65mph....all of a sudden the display on my TPM system flashed red and displayed that my right rear tire on the trailer was "leaking". I was impressed that it alerted me when the tire pressure was down only by 2 pounds...and I could see on the display the rate at which it was deflating. This gave me sufficient time to exit the highway, park in a safe place...and not suffer any damage to my RV....let alone save the tire which picked up a screw.

This device is worth its weight in gold....and I highly recommend it to anyone pulling a trailer of any kind. You will never know you a have a problem until it is too late without it. 


There you have it -- a direct comparison of the value of TPMS vs no TPMS.

Friday, June 29, 2018

TPMS temperature readings. Of little value in my opinion.

A comment on TPMS: As a tire engineer, I see little reason to present the temperature of the sensor. IMO this extra information has some problems.
 1. Tires fail from low inflation primarily due to air leaks (puncture, cut or valve problems) but not from just getting hot. You only get a tire hot from running too fast and/or running to low air pressure. The sensor is not actually reading the temperature of the critical location in the tire as the hottest location is internal to the tire construction and measurement of that location can only be accomplished with a needle probe as done by Race tire Engineers ( I did do that as part of my job once upon a time).
2. The temperature number is distracting and is actually the temperature of the sensor, not the tire and the sensor is cooler than the wheel.
3. The TPMS temperature reading is significantly (25F to maybe 50F ) different i.e. lower than the tire temperature for most applications. More on this temperature difference in a future post. While it is possible for a sensor to report a dragging brake or failing wheel bearing an IR hand gauge is a better tool to use if that is your concern, as the hub will be hotter than the wheel and provide an earlier warning.


Friday, June 22, 2018

How to prepare for and respond to tire failure

There are numerous posts on RV Motorhome forums on how the driver whould respond to a sudden tire failure (Do not stomp on the brakes but apply the gas for a couple seconds to be sure the driver has full control. THEN slow down and pull over.)
If towing a trailer you are less likely to lose control of the tow vehicle so you just need to slow down as soon as possible and pull over.

BUT the reason for this post is not to address vehicle control but to identify the actions you should take concerning your tires.

1. Before you have a tire failure you should be sure you have the full DOT serial for each tire written down somewhere.
2. With ANY failure, other than puncture or valve failure you should file a complaint with NHTSA. They need the FULL DOT tire serial and full vehicle VIN.
3. Take pictures.  In full sun, close enough so only half the tire fills the frame So more than a couple pictures are needed. Snapping a shot in the shade from ten feet away under the RV just isn't useful. Get tread, sidewall failed area, and non-failed area. Make sure the pictures are in FOCUS and at the highest quality possible for your camera.
4. Let NHTSA know you have pictures when you file your complaint.
5. Contact the tire dealer, RV dealer and RV MFG of the failure and the NHTSA complaint number.
6. KEEP THE FAILED TIRE. Tire company may be willing to compensate you but you must have the failed tire. Carry an HD trash bag if you must. A folded trash bag doesn't take space and is only a few ounces weight.  No tire = no possible compensation.

Note I have posts and video on how trailer owners, Class B and Class C owners can inspect your own tires each year for belt/tread separations. Running a TPMS will give you an advanced warning on Run Low Flex Failure.
Having the actual scale load on each tire as covered in the owner's manual will help substantiate your claim. Always run the tire pressure on the tire sidewall for your CIP if you are pulling a trailer. Motorhome owners need scale weight printout and a copy of tire load tables.

IMO if you don't do all of the above I am not interested in hearing your complaints.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What should Airstream and similar type trailer owners do?

One of the Forums I follow is on Airstream trailers. There was a post from an owner who was having problems getting the actual loads on the trailer, hitch, and TV. There were a number of posts on what he needed to do.

However, I saw no mention of tire loading or tire inflation so I added the following post to the thread.

"When you are done making adjustments and moving stuff around and get new scale readings. You need to look at tire loading and inflation.

Ideally, you would get the individual axle load as they are probably not split 50/50

You are also probably not 50/50 side to side loaded either.  The good news is that you don't have slides or residential refrigerator so are probably 51/49 side to side or 48/52%

The best approach is to take the heavier loaded axle and assume a 52/48% split and compare the 52% number with the tire load capacity. You should have at least a 15% load capacity margin.  (52% of the heavier axle is no greater than 85% of tire max capacity.

Finally, with a multi-axles trailer, you should use the tire sidewall pressure number as your "Cold Tire Inflation" to try and lower the Interply Shear forces that are trying to tear the tire belts off the carcass.

You can learn more on my RV tire blog."

Note: While I wrote this in response to a specific post/question on an Airstream forum the information on tire load & inflation would apply to similar trailers that do not have slide-outs or heavy residential refrigerators or other obvious unbalanced equipment.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Setting Motorhome inflation for "Newbie"

Reading a forum post that said:
"We are moving across the United States for our FIRST trip in our 06 Mountain Aire. Don’t think that’s a great idea for a first trip, but that’s what’s gonna happen. LOL. I do not have access to a four corner scale. I do have access to a cat scale. I downloaded the Michelin tire pressure guide. From what I remember here, I take the axle weight and use the Michelin guide? I seem to remember someone saying to add 5 psi to compensate for the lack of a 4 corner scale?"
My reply:

You can read my RV Tire blog for more details for Motorhomes (but not towables)

1. If you have no scale reading follow the Vehicle Certification Label AKA (Tire Placard)

2. As soon as possible, get on a truck scale when you are at your heaviest (full of fuel, food, water, propane, clothes, people etc).

3. Using the axle load numbers: Confirm no axle exceeds GAWR (gross axle weight rating) (on placard) and the RV does not exceed GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) (on placard). If you exceed either max weight rating you must move or eliminate some "stuff" in the RV.

4. If your weights are lower than GAWR then you MIGHT be able to lower your inflation a bit but there is some effort involved.

5. Since you will not have "4 corner weights" you will not know how much out of balance side to side you actually are. Some RVs have been found to be 1,000# out of balance on an axle.

6. I suggest at a minimum you assume one end of each axle is carrying 53% of the total axle load. You could use the 53% number to consult the Load & Inflation tables.  WARNING Michelin tables assume perfect 50/50 load balance which IMO is not realistic, so you need to calculate the individual axle end load ( divide Michelin number by 2)

7. Using the 53% load number and the calculated Michelin load number you now know the MINIMUM Cold Inflation aka MCI number. It is suggested you add 10% to that inflation number for inflation when setting tire inflation. This is your daily measured Cold Inflation Pressure aka CIP. This 10% covers you for day to day temperature and elevation changes.

8. If or when the measured cold inflation (or inflation reported by your TPMS) drops to your MCI number you need to add some air to get back to your 10% margin number.

9. I see no reason to ever bleed off pressure from your daily measured CIP unless your reading is higher than the inflation number molded on the tire sidewall. If you get that high you can bleed down to the tire sidewall pressure but never below the MCI.

Ya a bit of work but once you think about your goal - Stay above the MCI and below the inflation molded on the tire sidewall you are good to go. A TPMS makes the job of checking inflation on each day of travel much easier as you simply check each morning before you start out. TPMS will also give you a warning when or if you get a puncture od have a leaking valve and are losing air. A good TPMS will have some form of "early warning" when you start to lose a couple PSI while running down the road. This could prevent a serious tire failure.

Friday, June 1, 2018

ST type tire speed ratings. One man's opinion.

Lets see if I can bring some Science and Engineering facts and history to this issue of speed limits on ST tires.

In '60's & '70 when ST type tires were "invented" and started to be applied to Travel Trailers, the national speed limit was 55 mph and tires were bias.  Trailers were considered "big" if they were 24' long and I doubt there were many if any 5th wheel tri axle trailers on the road. 
Today we see speeds across the country of 70+ and there are many locations where you could set the cruse at 70 and never slow down for an 8 hour drive here in the US. Trailers over 30' are normal with some pushing 40 feet and most have tandem axles with more tripples showing up every day.

The formula for determining the load capacity for all tires follows the basic format 
  Load = K  x  (air pressure)   x  (air volume)
Now the calculation for air volume is the complex part as aspect ratio and a theoretical rim width and other factors such as tread depth come into it but these details do not change the fundamentsl format of the formula.

The "K" shown above is an important concept as it is really a factor based on the expected service.
Standard passenger cars seldom if ever carry their max load. The GVWR and GAWR are not even in every owner's manual or on the Vehicle Certification label AKA "Tire Placard". They are expected to be run at posted speeds but on paved roads for hours on end and driven 10,000 to 20,000 miles a year  i.e. used fairly frequently with many being parked in a garage.

For the sake of this discussion lets assume the K is set to 1.0 for passenger cars.

Now what do you do with Station Wagons and other "multi-purpose" vehicles? These vehicles were expected to carry more load more often so the service is obviously more severe.  When SUV's came along they were places in the "Multi-purpose catigory" and if a passenger type tire was applied to a trailer that was also considered more severe service. So the load capacity was reduced. many are aware of the "De-rating of P type tires when used on trailers or SUVs etc. So K (multi-purpose) = K (passenger) divided by 1.10 and we end up with lower load capacity. About 90% of passenger.

Lets look at the actual numbers.
P235/75R15 105S  35 psi
  2,028# @ 35 psi 112 mph on a Passenger vehicle
  1,844# @ 35 psi 112 mph on an SUV or P/U or trailer

Moving on to Pick-up service we have LT type tires. The formula is still K x pressure x air volume but with trucks expected to carry even more load most of the time their K factor is different.
Their numbers give us
LT235/75R15 101/104Q  LR-C
  1,985# single 50 psi 99 mph 
This lower load capacity on truck service is clearly because the higher percentage time spent carrying more load.
Before we move on lets look at the ST numbers
ST 235/75R15  LR-C
  2340# @ 50 psi   65 mph
To me the obvious question should be: How does the addition of the letters "ST" on the sidewall allow a 26% increase in load capacity over a P type tire (adjusted for trailer service)
or a 29%  increase over the heavily loaded but occasionally empty truck? The only reason I can see is the significant reduction in speed.

We all know, or should know that more load (more deflection or bending) generates more heat so what could you do to counteract the increase in heat due to the increase in load? Obviously lower the speed would reduce the higher heat and that was part of the original ST tire standard.

Now lets look at the tire type that is of real interest. ST type as used on many RV trailers. 
In 2014 new duties were imposed on imported tires but ST type were exempt, sort of. There were various requirements some of which were requested to be changed or eliminated. The speed symbol was one of these requirements.
Starting in 2017 (possibly earlier in small quantities) many ST type tires started showing up with a Speed Symbol selected from the table as published by US Tire & Rim Association in the LT section.
The problem is that Speed Symbol does not have any standard DOT test or requirements as in the US Speed Rating is really a marketing tool and not a strict performance requirement. A review of various ST tires shows a range of speed symbols from L (75 mph) to R (106 mph) and possibly higher.
Further compounding the confusion is that the speed symbols are from the SAE - Society of Automotive Engineers and according to SAE their test criteria J1561 apply to ""standard load," "extra load," and "T-type high-pressure temporary-use spare" passenger tires." This raises the obvious question of what test procedure, if any, are various tire companies following when they assign the Speed Symbol? While we are talking about SAE symbols we need to remember that DT does not recognise or test for these ratings.

Let me close with a question I have asked a number of times but as of now have never received an answer for.
What "magic" engineering are tire companies puting in their ST tires that allows them to run 75 or 81 or even 106 mph without making any adjustments in load or inflation? and If they have this "magic" engineering available, why aren't they using it in their LT tires? There are construction features that will improve the test performance of tires, maybe even improve the speed rating a step, but I have serious questions on the ability of tire company to increase load capacity by 20 to 25% which is effectively what some appear to be trying to do.

NOTE Goodyear Tire Care Guide ( clearly shows a blanket 75 mph max speed for 17.5 rim diameter and larger tires.

Wonder why they didn't increase the speed rating of these tires using similar construction features they applied to the GYMarathon to turn it into a GY Endurance.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tire info in Owner's manual and on Certification label

I have been looking at the "Tire Placard" AKA Vehicle Certification Label for a number of 5th wheel trailers. I learned a few things.

A couple of manufacturers have upgraded the tires on the newer units. Some went from ST235/85R16 LR-E to  ST235/85R16 LR-F. The inflation went from 80 to 110 so they are clearly offering improved load capacity or giving you a better margin above the tire capacity.

If you have an older 5th wheel and have either ST235/80R16 LR-E or ST235/85R16 LR-E you might want to check and confirm if your wheels are rated for 110 psi. If so, you might consider moving on up to LR-F and doing the slight up-size if you have the needed clearance as the 85 series tire is a bit larger in OD.

I also found one model that went from 16" to 17.5" wheels. It appears that the new RVIA 10% load margin requirement achieved some better than expected results. While this may not help out those with older trailers just knowing there are wheel & tire options available that are approved by your RV company could be considered good news.

On a related matter, I wonder how many of you have ever read the section on Tires in your owner's manual. I was surprised to see that some manuals have pretty good and detailed info. They cover stuff like weighing each side of the RV and not just the total on the 4 or 6 tires. While this isn't as good as learning the individual load on each tire a side to side comparison may identify some load imbalance. Since I suggest that trailers run the tire sidewall inflation we are not looking at calculating a minimum inflation. BUT we still want to be sure you have at least a 15% margin on load, so you should use the heavier side of the RV when doing your"Safety margin" calculations.

I also found some clear info on "cold inflation" and operation speed which was better than I expected. Tire life and expected replacement age were not uniform brand to brand but some of you may be surprised to see that some manufacturers actually tell you the number of years use you should expect from your tires.

Hope to meet a few of you at FMCA GLAMARAMA in Michigan in a couple weeks or in Gillette, Wy in July.   Safe travels.

Friday, May 18, 2018

ST tire Belt Separation "Autopsy" "How To"

This info is from an inspection I did a while ago. Some may find it informative.  A friend wrote a post on an RV Forum of his experiences and the results of my "Cut Tire Inspection". He posted:

[image]"This summer I had a tire failure, 3 actually in all by the time I was done. If you are into the details of tire failures, this is one type of tire failure. This is a little long of a post, but there are lots of pics to go with the words and some background.

I'm not a tire expert by any means, just a machinery guy trying to figure out what went wrong with my rig so I did not repeat the same problem and could correct what went wrong. So I took this one as far as I practically could.

I caught the first failure here in my yard doing axle maintenance. When I jacked up the camper to put it on jack stands, my left rear tire would not clear the ground on the normal stand height. H’mm OK what’s up?
I looked at the left rear tire and it looked more round across the face than I remembered. Still did not know what the issue was at this point.

I jacked it up some more and started to take the tires off. I took all 4 tires off and I could see one tire, the left rear looked different. It was more curved across the face of the tire than the rest. Laying it on the ground it showed up more not be square to the sides.

Here is a normal one

After comparing the other 3 to this one rear left I measured the OD of the tire. Yup, it is 1” larger in OD circumference. OK something let loose inside this tire.
 I put this bad tire aside, finished up the axle work and put the spare on. I then tried to figure out what was wrong with this tire. Looking on the outside I really did not see anything much that was wrong with it other than about 180 degrees around the outside, the tire progressively was getting larger in OD up to a high spot then starting coming back down. Whatever was wrong with it created an out of round tire.


I demounted the tire and looked inside. Nothing really looked wrong to me inside. I happened to have a fellow RV buddy who is a retired tire engineer who has done tire failure analysis most all of his career. We hooked up and he told me how to section the tire and send it to him. So here is how we did this. He told me how to cut out the side walls. I was shocked you can cut up a side wall this easy. There is inherent danger in doing this. Heavy gloves and a sharp knife is a must. Once you start cutting it out it sort of unzippers. You start above the tire bead and cut towards the OD, then start and cut around the circumference.

Now I had a donut. The hard part is cutting through the steel wire in the tire. Ideally you do this on a vertical band saw with a progressive tooth blade. The rubber wants to bite and grab the blade. I did not have a large enough vertical band saw so I used a Sawzz All. Here one really has to clamp this thing down or the rubber will grab and start shaking the saw violently. You do not want any blade pinch as the rubber bites into the blade. Need to back flex it to keep it pulling apart as you cut. I clamped it to some old saw horses and cut it apart.



Now I looked at the cross section. Well nothing real exciting at the 90 degree point from the high point.


 So I curled up the sample to fit in a box I could UPS to him. Here it is

I  sent him the tire and then started to investigate if I did something wrong to cause this failure. I always check tire pressure and run max cold side wall pressure at the start of every trip. I even have my own small compressor in the truck if I need it. So under inflation was not the problem.

I also do not tow faster than 60 mph. I do not need to, big truck or not this is a safety limit for me. So I was not overrunning the 65 mph max speed rating creating excess heat.

I use white tires covers when the camper is at home. These tires are 3.5 years old at this point. I can say the first year they were only 50% covered until I have my present tire covers in place. There really was not much tire cracking. No side wall cracks, some very fine in tread cracks and there was a number of stone cuts in the valleys of the treads.

Next was weight. I had not been to the scales in about 1.5 years and I added some upgrades. So I loaded the camper with stuff for a campout and full fresh water as we do haul water to some camps. Went to the scales and weighed each axle with WD engaged. I could not get each wheel position at the scales so when I came home I used my force jack to get each wheel position. Here is the weight chart.

The failed tire location has 12.5% extra tire capacity or 318# from max load. There is some error in this data as my force jacked weighed a little heavy. It did however show me that the 4 tire locations are different. The front axle was pretty equal, the rear axle very different. My fresh tank sits right over the front axle which may have had something to do with the front being more even. At this point, weight did not seem to point to a glaring problem.

Since I could not find anything wrong, yet anyway, I bought a new Maxxis tire for the spare and we headed off on vacation. My tire buddy also was on vacation so he did not yet have my tire done.

On vacation I was 800 miles from home on the NYS Thruway and while gassing up, OMG… This tire right side rear tire does not look good. Dang, it looks like the failed one. So we pulled over in the truck lot and took it off and put the spare on. Yup, it let go too like the 1st one.

I was lucky a 2nd time I caught the failure before it let go. If you are going to have to change a tire on the road, the NYS Thruway makes a good changing spot… OK so now I have no spare…. I’m thinking of where I can get one when I get to my Mom’s house. Well…. No luck finding one close by. We did make it home OK. Another 800 miles.

When we made it home I was already working on changing tires to LT tires. When I jacked up the camper to take off the ST’s, OH boy, another one…. The tread was bulged. This tire would not even roll correct it wobbled so bad it would fall over.

So I dodged a 3rd bullet. I could not see this when it was on the camper, only when I took the weight off. The damage did not yet progress far enough yet or it was not out in the open where I could see it.

Soon my tire engineer buddy was done investigating the 1st tire I sent him. The tire failed for what is called “detachment” or what is nick named sometimes “slipped belts”. It is where the tread separates where the steel belts are in the tire tread from the main tire. Basically the tire unbonded itself inside the tread. Here is his analysis pictures.

He sectioned the tire sample I sent him and knowing what to look for started to see clues of the problem. You can see small separations at the yellow arrows.

His description was “Cut 1 was my initial cut away from the identified bulge area. There are small detachments identified. If this was all that was found in the tire it would not be a serious issue.”

Then he sectioned again and he found the entire area let go.
His description was
“Cut 2 location was identified by careful measurement of tread depth and I found a location with more wear than in other areas. The large detachments between the belts on both shoulders can be seen”


His description was “Detach 1a & 1b show the length of the detachment to be over 11" long” 
 And this one really shows the detachment separation.

His description was “Detach Width shows the width of the two detachments relative to the tread width”
asked him how did this happen? His response:

Why detachment?
There are a number of things that can cause this. They would primarily be a breakdown of the rubber that coats the steel. This could be due to a manufacturing error or simply the selection of a lower strength rubber which cannot tolerate the forces applied to the tire. Only lab testing can determine that. Sometimes detachments can be initiated by tread cuts or punctures but that does not seem to be the case of the tire I inspected. Detachments are one of the more difficult conditions to analyze as there is a need for a lot of additional background information and data.

From this investigation I have a perfect case to file a report with the NHTSA as I used the tires within the ratings. I have since filed 3 complaints, 1 for each tire. I’ll create a thread on how to do this filing. It is the only way we as RV’ers can help this cause of trailer tire failures become more known to the right people who can help. See here How To File a Tire Failure Complaint

There is now a growing understanding that for tandem trailer applications that a 20% more tire capacity reserve is needed to help hold up to the service of a multi axle trailer. In my case I am towing heavy, I am not overloaded, in relation to my tire capacity. When I upgraded I targeted to get as close as I could to the 20% reserve at the heaviest loaded tire. I had a choice of load Range E in the ST or go to 16" LT and deal with tire wheel well issues. I weighed the options and went LT. See here for more on the LT change ST225/75R15 to LT225/75R16 Conversion

While LT tires may not be for everyone, knowing your weights of each tire location and where you are in relation to the tire capacity reserve is something you can do. You can also not tow over 65 mph on ST tires, keep them at max side wall cold pressure at the start of each trip and use white tires covers over them when the camper is in storage.

Hope this helps someone in the future.



Friday, May 11, 2018

How do I set inflation on my TV and RV trailer?

Got this PM from someone who reads RV forums.

"Good evening, I'm looking for some professional advice. I have a 2500HD pulling a fifth wheel, my steer axle is 4,000 lbs, drive axle is 5,380 lbs, and our trailer is 7,700 lbs. Tires on the TV are rated for 3,100 lbs a piece at 80 psi. The RV tires are rated for 2,800 lbs at 80 psi. Do you think I am ok to run 65psi in the steer axle, 70psi in the drive axle? What I've been doing is 75psi steer, 75-80psi drive, and 80psi trailer. Our TV tires are Michelin MS2 LT265/70-17 the load range chart says I can run much less psi. Also, our trailer tire's are Maxxis 8008 225/75-15 LR E, also the load range chart shows I can run less psi. Any thoughts on what you would do would greatly be appreciated, thank you. New Crusader owner"

To start with it is important to remember that we should never operate tires with inflation lower than what is needed to support the actual load on the tires.
As I have pointed out in my blog we first need to confirm the actual load on our tires. For TV we will find the side to side loading is usually 49/51 to 50/50 split so we can take the measured axle loads divide by 2 and then use the resulting figure when consulting the Load Inflation tables for our size tire.
I have links to many load/inflation tables and related info HERE. Once you find the MINIMUM inflation, I suggest you add at least 10% to that number to allow for day to day variations. Having said this, it is important to remember that the car company spent a lot of time and money evaluating many different tires at different pressures to arrive at the recommendation that is on the Tire Placard on the driver door jam. You should note that the Placard inflation may be higher than my above-suggested calculation as my calculation is only addressing load and not handling, braking or the fuel economy.
The scale weight for the TV for the above needs to be the reading with the RV & TV fully loaded as heavy as you ever expect to tow.

The RV tire inflation is different. Due to SIDE LOADING in trailer application, I strongly recommend running the tire sidewall inflation as your CIP. I think that if you review the RV Placard info from the RV company you will also find that they say to use the inflation number on the tire sidewall.

I know you were hoping I would just tell you to run xx psi here and yy there and zz on the trailer but without knowing tire sizes and Load Range for all your tires, I don't have enough info to provide an informed answer BUT I feel you now have enough info that after reading the sidewalls of your tires - Be sure to check each as they might be different on TV and RV and possibly even different F & R on the TV - You now know how to establish the correct inflation for your current vehicles and for any vehicles you own in the future.

I hope this information and instructions help. If not you can always contact me directly using the email under my video picture to the right.

Friday, May 4, 2018

How much inflation in my tires? Question from new RV owner

Recently read yet another forum post on the topic of "How Much inflation should I run. This post followed the standard format of:  A. I just bought an XXX RV. How much air do I need in my tires?  B. Numerous replies ranging from "I use xx psi" to "You must always run the pressure on the tire sidewall"  to the more correct reply of "You need to know your tire loads first". Some forum threads run to dozens of back and forth exchanges Some have correct info IMO while others are still using what I consider "Old Wives Tales".  I recently replied as follows.

1. Almost all tire Inflation/Load charts have identical numbers (maybe as high as 98% )so if you can't find your brand you can reasonably use another brand till you do.

2. Yes, the charts give the MINIMUM inflation needed but to avoid the need to adjust your inflation every morning (inflation changes by about 2% for every change of 10F) I and others suggest you add a bit so you are running the minimum + 0% to + 15%.

3. You should NEVER run lower than the minimum inflation shown on the chart.

4. Since all tires on any one axle should have the same CIP (Cold Inflation Pressure) you base the minimum on the heavier end. This is why we recommend "4 corner weights" to learn what the heavier end load is. Until you learn the actual load on the heavier end you can assume one end is supporting 53 to 55% of the total on the axle (the axle weight when on the truck scale).

5. How much to add over the minimum? I think you will find various suggestions in the range of +1 psi to +10%. Since I am offering advice to a wide range of users (ST trailer tires, LT and Class-A) with minimum inflations from 50 to 120 I prefer the percentage and if people want to have their CIP ending in 0 or 5 they can add the % then round up. ( Note the +1 Psi is from Tire Rack where they are advising owners of passenger tires that normally are running 30 to 36 psi)

6 Premature wear. Most LT and 22.5 size tires can be good for 60 to 100,000 miles wear so most RV owners will have their tires "age out" before they wear out so the minor wear difference, if any due to running + 5% over the minimum if overshadowed by variations in suspension wear, alignment variations, and driving habits. The center shoulder wear info is based on car wear rates primarily with bias tires or inflation differences greater than +/- 15% from the suggested CIP.

7. "Correct" inflation is not what the charts say. They are providing the "Minimum" cold inflations is every case.

8. Adding Load % and adding inflation % is done only to compensate for not knowing the actual heavy end of an axle. If you learn the actual heavy end when the RV is fully loaded to the heaviest you ever travel at, I do not suggest you need to add any more weight when doing your calculations. How much can you be out of balance side to side? I have seen a very small % of RVs with the load at 50/50 side to side. Most appear to be in the 53/47 to 55/45 range but a few have been found with over 1,000# heavier on one end.

9. It is important to realize that when we look at actual weights of RVs in use, over half exceed one or more of the weight specifications for tires or axle loading. IMO this is a clear indication of why so many RVs have tire problems.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sidewall "Bubble" or ? A Tire Autopsy

Took the wife's Miata down for an oil change and tire rotation. Contacted by the store, that they had discovered a "Bubble" in the sidewall and wanted to know what I wanted to do.
After a quick look at the location of interest I concluded that we were looking at a Sidewall Impact Break. I had the store replace the tire with a new one and asked that the allow me to do a "Failed Tire Inspection".  Here is what I found.

Picture 1 is of the inflated LF tire on the car.
You can easily see the "Bubble" on the sidewall under the molded word"OUTSIDE". What tipped me off to the damage being an impact and not a sidewall bubble or blister was the shape (more radial in nature than round) and the gradual nature of the rise of the shape. Sidewall blisters are normally more abrupt.

The interior picture is what we see inside the air chamber at the location of the sidewall "bump".
I have an arrow pointing at the stress marks of the body cord on the inner liner rubber.

Picture 2 is of my initial examination cuts.   Note I did not cut directly through the area in question as I did not want to destroy or contaminate the "evidence" that I suspected would be found in the area of interest. This is an important point that many inexperienced investigators sometimes miss.

In picture 3 we see the location of interest. I added an arrow that points to area os special interest. If you look closely you will see a short dark line. This is a depression where the interior rubber has been "sucked" into the damaged area of the sidewall,

After removing the section of the tire, close examination revealed some of the initial Innerliner cracks / tears.  Here is a close-up shot.

These cracks would grow and could eventually result is air loss through small cracks in the sidewall. It is important to consider that the cracks will not grow in just a couple of miles or maybe not even in 100 miles but if driven long enough would most certainly result in an air loss. The driver would have no recollection of ever hitting a bad pothole or road debris so in all likelihood simply claim that the "Blowout" was due to some tire defect.

 Finally, we can see the separation of the body cord from the surrounding rubber. It is possible for this type of separation to allow the cords to move independently from the rubber next to the cord and the rubbing can generate heat which under the right circumstances could lead to a cord failure.
Again this could take weeks or months to progress to a loss of air but is another example of why few drivers connect the effect of a tire losing air to the real cause of suffering a sidewall impact break.

This break was actually quite minor. A more severe impact was covered in THIS post.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Belt Separation or not on a towed vehicle?

Saw a post that started out with a claim of a belt separation on a front tire of a 2007Jeep Sport while it was being towed behind a Class-A rig.

Luckily the owner posted a picture that I felt was suspicious. While the owner was going about getting the Jeep repaired and tires replaced I PM the owner and asked if they could provide better pictures. I advised full sunlight and straight on shots showing just the tread.

Here are the two front tires after being removed from the Jeep.

The LF shows the belt separation which led to the air loss when the edge of the steel belts cut & punctured the tire carcass.

If we take a closer look at the LF and note the Tearing and Wearing of the tread elements we can confirm the tire was turned hard right while the Jeep was pulled forward by the tow bar.  I have added a red arrow showing the direction the road surface moved across the face of the tire tread.
 I have circled a couple of tread sipe edges that show the lifting of the leading edge of the slots.
"Sipes" are the name for the small, thin parts of a tire tread pattern that leaves small narrow slots in the tread surface. This "lifting" occurs as the edges of the sipe slot are bent down into the empty space in the tread patern.
The yellow box identifies the relatively smaller level of wear on the trailing edge of the tread.

Here is the RF where I showed the leading edges
of the larger tread blocks that have been worn away from having the tire being pulled sideways across the road surface.

The owners of the Jeep believe the steering wheel lock was not engaged but so far inspections by auto mechanics have not been able to learn why the tires were being dragged straight ahead while they were turned hard right.

As can easily be seen the result of being dragged put more load on the outer edge of the LF  tire which suffered the greatest level of damage. I would estimate that the tires were pulled for a good number of miles based on the severe damage to the thread. Before the vehicles were stopped, the tires did appear to straighten the steering and pull straight ahead for a number of miles as the tread surface does not display surface scrub marks I have observed on other tires that have been slid across the road surface.

Yes, there was a belt separation but it was caused not by any tire defect but by some mechanical failure of the vehicle steering system.

IMO the above is a reasonable example of a "Failed Tire" Examination and analysis of the evidence thaat leads to a probable cause of the tire problem. Experience in tread wear paterna and anomalies is a definate pluse in completing this examination.