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Friday, January 12, 2018

Why do trailer tires fail more often than tow vehicle tires?

Here is the question posted on a travel trailer forum.
Why so many trailer tire failures and so few, if any, tow vehicle tire failures?

This post could be considered Part 2 of my post of last week. 

The primary reason IMO is staring everyone in the face and the information is molded onto the tire sidewall so you do not need to be an Einstein, but almost everyone chooses to ignore the science so they can save a few bucks.

Fact: Tire load capacity is a function of air volume (tire size) and inflation pressure. This is well established and is confirmed by every Load & Inflation chart printed. Increase size or increase pressure and you increase load.

If we all drove around on tires with LT level sizing and inflation there would be almost no failures other than those caused by road hazard or punctures.

People want softer ride, better fuel economy and lower cost so alternatives were introduced into the market.

LT tires can be considered the standard for tires designed to carry load at highway speeds.

P type tires have a higher load capacity than identical size LT tire but if you check the actual load on most car tires, you will see they have 15% to 25% or more "Reserve Load" capacity (more capacity than needed). Inflation is set for cars based not on load but ride, handling and fuel economy. You also know that P tires must have their load capacity de-rated when P tires are used in truck, SUV or trailer application. When P type tires are run with zero reserve load you will probably get more failures. (See Ford Explorer crashes.)

ST tires have a higher claimed load capacity than LT tires and TT companies use the smallest (lowest cost) tire that can, most of the time, meet the specification for load.

How then is it that ST tires are rated to carry more load?
The load formula for ST tires is based on a 65 mph Max operation speed and an expected shorter life. The formula was developed back when bias tires that wore out at less than 15,000 miles were the norm

Since 1990 when ST tires were still "Alpha" sized ( H78-15ST) the load formula has not been changes as far as I can determine.

The science indicates that if you want tire durability on your trailer as you get on your truck maybe you need to consider running the same type tires i.e. LT type and of course that means you also need to use LT Load & Inflation limits.

Here is some info I posted Sept 14 2011

"Here are some facts from the Tire & Rim Association industry standards book 

P235/75R15 105S (Standard Load -35 psi @ max load)
2028# 35 psi 112mph on a Passenger car
1844# 35 psi 112mph on a SUV or P/U or trailer (no Dual)

LT235/75R15 LRC
1512#single 1377# Dual 50 psi 85mph

ST235/75R15 LRC
2340#single 2040# Dual 50 psi 65mph

NOTE I did not mention the actual load on a tire but only the specified max. Weight data indicates many TT have one or more tire in overload.

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