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Friday, January 25, 2019

Can TPMS provide advance warning of a Belt/Tread Separation?

Read the following on a forum for one brand of trailers where they were discussing the advantages of having a TPMS:
Someone said "How do you know if you have picked up a nail, which is leaking air, since your last walk around? A TPMS is like a fuel gauge. You could always dip your fuel tanks at every stop too."  Another reader replied "Great point; I might add, if there is something happening to the tire like tread separation which could lead to a blowout the temp likely would be going up and the alarm would sound and show temp compared to other tires.... I have read here on the Forum and other Forum's several incidents where a blown tire has caused extensive damage. Same if you picked up a nail or something where a "slow leak" might become a fast leak after your back driving on the highway... Like insurance...but, maybe not worth it to some folks."
I then replied:

As a tire engineer, I am sorry to inform you that having a belt separation will probably not generate enough heat to set the TPMS warning off.

TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitor System. It does not and for all intents and purposes can not provide advance warning of a tire failure due to belt/tread separation.

Air leaks can cause failures in a few miles as seen in my blog post on Blowout a real-life experience on an Airstream, to after a few hours depending on how fast the leak is. Some TPM offer warning if the pressure drops by just a couple psi in a couple of minutes or less. Some will not warn till you drop 15% to 25% below the cold inflation pressure which means you first have to lose the pressure you gained from normal driving.

I know of no consumer-level device that can advise of a belt separation as separation can take thousands of miles to grow large enough to result in the tire coming apart.

I have posted on this blog on how to do a thorough tire inspection to discover if you have a separation. Even a video and pictures of a tire belt separation before the tire came apart.  I covered the "Why" of tire failures in THIS post. Did you read and understand that information?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Another question on having a spare

Was reading another RV Forum thread on spare tires. The questions about cost and difficulty in actually doing the change came up. One person said a spare for his Ford Transit van (Class-B?) would cost $400.
I offered the following.

A little shopping around and you should save a lot. New steel Ford transit wheels are available for $70 on eBay. Probably $25 at a local junkyard. Remember Class B and C RVs are basically just large pick-up chassis and there are thousands of those in junkyards. Also, a steel wheel is fine for a spare.  Used tires usually go for $25 to $50. A spare only needs to be good for 50 to a couple hundred miles so again a few phone calls to local tire dealers and you should be able to find an acceptable spare, especially for Class-B or Class-C. Class-A owners will need to check with HD truck repair shop.

You need to be a bit creative and not simply go to your RV dealer and ask for a new tire & wheel. Very few RV dealers are in the business of selling tires & wheels and if they are, they probably only have new tires.

What I am suggesting is that if you have to buy a tire from the service truck, on the side of the road, the price will probably be 125% to 200% of a sale price.  If you have a Class B or Class C most people should be able to do the change themselves with a little planning and preparation.
Planning and maybe even practice on a nice sunny afternoon would be a good time to confirm you have all the tools and supplies (like a solid platform to place under the bottle jack if you are on dirt)
 
 Class-A can save time (hours or days) and maybe $hundreds and space by being able to provide just a tire that fits their RV. HD Service Trucks are equipped to change and inflate a tire on the side of the road. If you have different size front and rear I suggest you have a spare for the rear as they suffer a higher percentage of punctures than the front.

##RVT880

Friday, January 11, 2019

Did you really read your Owner's manual?

Ya, I know that if you are like me you were given a stack of Owner's manuals with your new RV.

 I doubt that many have ever read every page of the 6" to 8" stack of papers.

However, I would suggest that you at least check the section of the basic manual that covers "Tire Safety".

I was recently involved in some litigation on tires and quickly learned that the folks who were complaining about their tires may have claimed to have read the manual, but for some reason didn't understand the information or felt the information didn't apply to them or just didn't care as it was obvious that they had failed to follow the tire maintenance and safety instructions when it came to RV weight or tire inflation.

A review of the table of contents will find section titles such as "Tire Safety" or "Weighing your RV".

I have to wonder why so many seem to feel that instructions such as "Before using your RV, you should inspect all the tires for proper inflation, uneven wear on the tread, cracks, foreign
objects, or other signs of wear or damage. Don’t .forget to inspect your spare tire!"
  do not apply to them.

I read questions on tires on the many RV forums I follow, and almost every week someone is saying  things such as " I have looked everywhere for tire inflation information but can't find out about my tires" 
 or "What size tire can I run" or similar questions. In reality, they have the information in their personal files.

I have found that copies of many Owner's Manuals are available for free on-line so even if you lost your manuals or didn't get them when you purchased a pre-owned RV, you should be able to find them online.

While I might be able to nit-pick at some of the details in the information, in general, I believe that if people read and followed the instructions, the percentage of people who have tire problems could be reduced significantly.

It really doesn't take a lot of time or effort to read and review the information on tires, proper inflation and correct loading of your RV. It also doesn't take much time to actually follow the instructions. If there is some part you don't understand I along with others would be more than happy to help out our fellow RV owners.

Certainly making a little effort to educate yourself will take less time than it would take to change out a tire after it had failed and also MUCH less expensive too.