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Sunday, March 25, 2012

How to select a tire brand

I read numerous posts on RV and other forums concerning the perceived quality of tires made in different countries. Among large 5th wheel trailers there seems to be a large percentage of owners who believe that all tires made in China are just failures waiting to happen.

What few seem to understand is that if all the tires on a single application, like large heavy 5th wheels, come from the same source then if a majority of those vehicles are overloaded (which can make any tire fail prematurely) there will be a higher percentage of failures due to the overloading and not because where the tires were made.

Maybe the bottom line solution is to go to Goodyear, Michelin, or Bridgestone Firestone as first choice then as a second second choice, Tire Rack, Big-O, Pep Boys, Costco, Walmart, Sears, Sam's Club or BJ wholesale club or another large tire retailer with a nationwide presence.

With a larger company you are much more likely to find someone who will stand behind the tires they sell. And you'll be dealing with a company that has a vested interest in selling quality products.

I believe that if you buy a tire at one of the three major manufacturers, who all sell imported tires from various countries, there's a good chance that any import tire they sell has been reviewed to ensure it meets U.S. market regulations.

I have personally been involved in evaluating tires made in USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and China and can assure you that they all were expected to meet identical corporate quality standards as they were all sold through company stores.

Since most customers have no idea about where their tires were made, they do remember the name of the store they bought them from. So, naturally, the large tire companies do not want their name associated with poor performance.

Another advantage of dealing with a large company is you have a better chance of finding service no matter where you travel than if you buy form the one and only Billy-Bob-Jo's Super Cheap Tire Emporium and Bait Shop.


  1. I bought a brand new KZ Sportsman fifth wheel. On my first trip out, I went to check the air in the tires. That's when I discovered the tires were made outside the US, which made me a bit uneasy. About 75 miles into the trip, the two tires on the right side exploded. After sitting on the side of the road for about three hours, I drove away with a new set all around of American tires. Sorry, don't care how good the ones outside the US are supposed to be, for me, it's American all the way!

    1. If you don't mind, what brand were they? I've been led to believe that all st tires were made overseas.

    2. Mike
      I do not know anything about the tires on John's KZ as he did not post the information. The only way to know where your tires are actually made is to read the sidewall. There should be a statement such as "Made in Canada" or "Made in USA" etc. The other way is to look at the first two characters of the DOT code then look up that factory info at

  2. You may be right that some of the tires made outside of the US are of a good quality but I can assure you that MISSIOM brand tires made in China are junk.
    I think if you buy tires for you T/T or 5th Whl. you should upgrade to the next highest load rating to give yourself an extra margin of safety.
    My opinion based on my experience.

  3. My Double Coin tires are China-made, heavy, tough, and very durable. They were also about half the cost of the big-name brands. I totally agree with Roger about buying from a nationwide dealer. When I had some issues with the DC's, I had to do a lot of work to find a dealer and get the warranty approved by the regional rep. That said, I was treated very well and I'm quite happy with the tires. (There is much more detail in the forum at iRV2.)

  4. I had a 5th W tire fail at the dealers when it was in for service. It blew out on the side wall. It was about a 2 year old tire with about 12000 miles. I checked the tire pressure on a routine basis. The 5th wheel wasn't overload because I have had it weighted several times to make sure I am in the safety zone. I try to stay under 65 MPH because the tires are only rated for that maximum speed.

    Now it appears a lot of 5th wheel RVs have tire problems and quite frankly I was surprised I had one. I am under the opinion that the problem with the tries, are the standards for their manufacturing is too low. By that I mean the side walls have a lot of torque placed on them when one backs up the 5th Wheel RV. Just watch your tires when you back up your 5er and you will think the tire is going to twist right off the rim. Now after you do that numerous times it weakens the tire sidewall and walla down the road you will have a blowout. Solution always backup your trailer without turning it-- good luck. Or get the US Government to upgrade the tire specifications for TT and 5th wheel tires. That is the real solution. The sidewalls are too WEAK.

  5. flrop
    You are correct that an upgrade of the tire standards might be called for for multi-axle trailers. However the DOT is not going to do anything withot significant facts and data to justify their spending limited resources on ST type tires. With lots of people calling for cuts in budget, more investigations are a low priority item, especially since tha data submitted to NHTSA does not support the idea that there are a high % of failures.
    The RV community has done a very poor job of filing complaints with the facts needed to justify an investigation. Watch for an upcomming post on this specific topic.

    Side note. Did you get some good close up pictures of your failure? If you email them to me I will be happy to give an opinion on the possible cause if they are detailed enough.


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