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Monday, February 23, 2015

Is it OK to spin your tires when stuck on ice or in mud ?

Quick answer to this question is

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. One is that I just read a RV forum post from someone that was stuck in mud and tried "spinning" their tires to get out. (it didn't work) The other reason is that with Canada and portions of the US that normally never get real cold in a deep freeze, there will be some vehicle owners experiencing frozen ground conditions and they may never have had that experience before.

The reason the practice of spinning your tires is dangerous is that very few RVs have limited slip differentials so when they rev the engine and spin their tires in a effort to get going they may UN-wittingly be spinning their tires at speeds high enough to cause a tire failure and explosion.

When you spin your tires the spinning tire is going TWICE the speed indicated on your speedometer.
This picture shows what can happen to a passenger size tire.
As you can see in this failure, not just the tread comes off and the sidewalls blow-out but the Hi-Tensile bead wire fractures in multiple locations which allows the complete tire to become a missile. When this happens with a small passenger car tire it may only "remove" one corner of the car. Sometimes a "free spin" tire failure ends up almost a mile away!  Now for a moment think what a LT or TBR tire might do if it were to fail in a similar manner.

If you are stuck, the best way to get out is to either use sand or gravel or to get some towing assistance. But please never simply spin your tires.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Do you check your air every day? Why ???

An RV owner in Western NY said:
"OK ... I'm new at this, and I appreciate the importance of proper inflation. But short of damage to a tire I would think daily checking of PSI is more of a cause for air loss. Or is there something I'm missing? There seems to be a real fixation on this topic. I doubt school bus drivers place as much emphasis on this topic as RVers do."

You're correct. Too many fixate on daily air checks. In years gone by that was the best method we could use, but sticking valves can cause air loss and it is not unheard of for a tire to start leaking air right after an air check.
This post shows just how easy it is for a piece of grit to get into the actual valve core opening and could allow air to leak out slowly.

To me avoiding this potential issue is one of the major advantages to using TPMS, but for some reason I have never heard anyone mention this benefit. Since I run TireTraker TPMS I don't do a manual air check unless the readings go below the normal variation range of 3 to 5 psi around my "Set" pressure of 72 psi. Other than the start of my travel season, I may only do a manual check once a season.

Now if you don't want to run a warning system then a manual check each travel day is the only way you can know there is a slow leak. Now to me running without a good TPMS would be much like driving without any gauges or warning lights on your dash.  Would you feel comfortable if this
is what your dash looked like? Be sure to take a close look before you answer.

If you wait till your "thumper"
makes you suspect low pressure you are getting about as much information as checking engine oil by banging on the oil pan with a hammer.

If your IR gun

 makes you suspect high temperature you may already be too late and might have done permanent structural damage to the tire and shortened its life by many months or even years. Rubber is not a good conductor of heat so you will almost certainly not get the reading from the hottest location.

Just as there were advances in early cars when the temperature gauge was just a thermometer stuck in the top of the radiator,
today we have electronics capable of providing the current pressure in our tires so we can receive a warning as soon as it starts to leak air from the elevated hot pressure in our tires.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Soften the blow to your wallet when buying tires

Recently read a blog post about the "sticker shock" of the cost of "truck type" tires for the large RV. I would like to offer a suggestion on how to soften the financial hit. This strategy can work for all RVs be they trailers, Class-B, Class-C or Class-A size units.

It a simple plan and will only take a few minutes to lay-out. With the planning behind us we will be prepared to take advantage of any special deals or short term sales we might come across.

Now to follow this plan there are a few bits of  information you need to have:

You need to know the exact size, Load-Range and DOT serial date for your current tires.
Sorry but just thinking you have 235-16 size tires that you bought in 2009 doesn't cut the mustard.

If you are not sure how to get this information I suggest a quick refresher is in order so you might read the post on "Reading a Tire". So lets assume you have collected the details on your tires so you know exactly what you will be looking for over the next few months.

Here is how my suggestion works.
If all your tires are the same size I would suggest you plan on replacing the two oldest tires first. The new tires would go on the front positions and the others in dual position in the back.

Next year I would buy two more new tires, place them on the front and move the tires that were on the front back to one pair of duals.

Then the third year buy two more tires, place them on the front position and move the older fronts back to the rear.

The above schedule serves a few purposes:

1. It spreads out the purchase over a three year period.
2. It has you running on the newest tires on your front position.
3. With this plan you can spend months shopping for the best deal and avoids the need to accept tires that may be years old before you even buy them. Since you know you have a plan and you know that over a six to 10 month time period to do your shopping.
4. When you are done you know your oldest tires are three years old and if you plan on changing tires when they get to seven or eight years you now have a four year period to set aside some cash for when you start the cycle over again. You can continue this schedule for as long as you own your RV and never be confronted with having to buy more than two tires in any year.

Now if your fronts are different size than your rears as seen on some large Class-A units you can't do the front tire rotation but you can still limit the purchase of your rears to just two a year

With a little planning no one should have to buy more than two tires in any one year. It just takes some thought and planning.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Real quick post on considerations when changing tire type or Load Range

When changing the "Type" tire be it P-metric, LT, Euro-metric or Euro Commercial or ST or even Low Platform trailer you MUST consult the appropriate Load \ Inflation tables  AND when passenger type tires are involved make the required load adjustment based on the type vehicle you are looking at.

While the vast majority of tires use the same Load/Inflation tables there are a few exceptions. Usually Michelin but also some ST tire brands have Load & Inflation numbers that are a bit different that the rest of the industry. Some ST tires even has special ratings that are not published but are covered by a special dispensation letter from NHTSA so reviewing the original Loads & Inflation for ST tires and comparing to the Tire & Rim tables or tables from other companies such as Goodyear, Bridgestone\Firestone or MAXIS are in order. In my experience these companies seem to line up 100% of the time with Industry guidelines. If your numbers are anything different that means you MUST do more investigation or face the posibility of being in an overload situation and not knowing it.

It's not hard to do but you do have to make an effort to cover ALL the requirements. While most of the info you need is covered in the Load/Infl tables some considerations such as speed rating limitations and "De-Rating" of the load capacity are things that even many tire dealers are not trained to do so you do need to consult a knowledgeable source.

Please remember that probably 90% or more of tire applications do not involve a change in type or application so the above is definitely NOT the norm even for the folks on the 1-800 Customer Support lines.

Subscribe to the weekly newsletter or one of our other newsletters about RVing. Great information and advice. Now in our 14th year. Learn more or subscribe.