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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Is it "Safe" to add air to your tires?

Got a question I have never heard before but thought I would share it and the answer with you as there is some safety related information to be gained.
Leih P.           asked
Just met an RV owner who was told by a Discount Tire salesperson that it was too dangerous for anyone to add air to a tire that was on the coach, as the risk was too great.  Apparently, from the rim or the tire exploding.  Even they weren't allowed to add air unless the tire was in a cage. 

Having to take the vehicle to a service center every time one needs air sure won't promote maintaining proper inflation.  Is it ok for the owner to check and maintain proper pressure, regardless of the tire size?

Thanks,  Leigh
I replied,
Yes, Leigh, you can add air to your, passenger car, boat trailer, light truck, Class A, B or C Motorhome or RV trailer or dolly. It is even OK for you to add air to your wheelbarrow tire or lawnmower tires. :-)
Now having said that, there are a few times when the use of a cage is advised
1. I would consider the use of a safety cage as MANDATORY for initial inflation if covered by OSHA Regulations   i.e tires larger than "LT" or tires on multi piece rims 

2. You should also use a cage when re-inflating any tire that had been run flat or suffered a puncture and lost more than 20% of its air.

Basically running a tire when low by 20% or more, can damage the body cord. On tires with steel body cord such as most Class-A type this can result in broken body cord which can result in an explosion when the tire is inflated. Tires damaged due to puncture should also be re-inflated in a cage.
I think the salesperson at the tire store misunderstood some of his training. My suggestion is to ask to speak to a manager. If you get the same advice on always using a cage when adding a few psi to a tire then I suggest you find a different tire dealer.
I do mention the use of a cage in this post.

I have contacted Discount tire but have not heard back yet. I believe the salesperson has some of their training information mixed up as I know of no regulation or even suggestion that simply adding a few psi to a tire that is already mounted and almost fully inflated needs to be done in a safety cage.

For those not sure what an Inflation Cage looks like or what it does here is a short video  from Ken-Tool doing an OSHA test.

One final comment. I did once receive a passenger tire for inspection that had exploded after being repaired. In this case the tech had damaged the tire when dismounting it. This is why I suggest that a safety cage or at least some type of restraint be used when re-inflating from 0 psi after a repair.

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  1. The old style split-ring rims are illegal to use because the ring can blow off. Those are what started the cage requirement.

  2. FYI, Discount Tire/America's Tire will not mount any 19.5 tire. They will however sell you all you want. I wound up buying my 6 new tires from American Tire & they had no trouble mounting them & they did use a special mounting cage.
    Dave from Ca


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