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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Understanding Tire Failure

Yes, when a tire fails there is almost always evidence left behind that points to the Root Cause. I have shown this in tire "autopsy" posts on my blog.

Some "causes" are easy to see or understand:
Punctures, cuts and external damage from hitting potholes or other "road trash" can lead to leaking air (fast or slow) or in some cases broken body cord (see my blog post on sidewall bulges).

"Blowouts" with sidewall flex failures are most likely the result of air leak, not just low air pressure due to poor maintenance. The leak could be caused by puncture, cut, leaking valve, cracked wheel or the like.

Other failure modes are harder to detect, such as:

Belt separations come from long-term heating of the tire belt/body interface. This heating comes from a combination of insufficient air pressure for the load and excessive speed.

Now while separations may be harder to detect, many can be found if a little effort is made by the person doing the tire inspection.

I previously published a video showing one way to "measure" a defect.

Sometimes you don't need to "spin" or rotate the tire but just get a good look at it and roll it across the floor for a full revolution as one part may look OK while another portion clearly would only look straight to a drunk.

If any of your tires look like the above, I would bet $$ that they had a belt separation similar to what is seen here.

Driving on a tire in this condition is simply asking for trouble as it could come apart when you least expect it as you drive down the road.

As we move out of Winter and you "DE-Winterize" your RV, especially trailers, Please take the time to do a thorough tire inspection.  Spin or off-the-vehicle inspection is much better than a stationary on-the-vehicle "Look At".

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  1. Thanks for this info. I recently noticed a condition on our two year old trailer that seems to resemble your last picture. Now I'm going to take a closer look at this. A "spin" test is in order.

  2. Yes the "Spin Test" is something everyone can do and a lot less expensive than buying an X-Ray or Holographic tire inspection machine. :-)
    Video of the process

    Spin isn't as good a process but if you see "wobble" as seen in the "Fifthwheel" video I would say you have a real problem. NOTE No wobble is not a guarantee of no problem.


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