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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

22.5 tire inspection. Confusing answer from dealer

Got this Private Message (PM) about sidewall "Bulges". Will keep it "private" redacting any identifying details but think there is a good learning experience for others here.

 Thanks for sharing your knowledge, and I do like your blog!

I have 5 1/2 year old xxxxxxxxxxxx Mich XZE* tires on our coach. No cracking, and have performed well.

I found sidewall 'bumps' on two tires ("Tire store" Tire Center gent, said they're not 'bulges', as they're so slight). One maybe 3/32" of a protrusion, the other much less. The "tire store" gent said they could be belts that are misplaced or broken. But, he also said the "*" XZE's have a thicker sidewall, and that the outer layer of the tire could have separated.

I know it's hard to give advice based upon a description, but, I wanted to ask your thoughts on the opinion given to me by this "tire store" gent.

He suggested that I monitor the size of the 'bumps' daily, and if they don't grow, he felt that they were safe to drive on. When asked if he would drive on them with his family, he said from what he could see, yes. He commented that the tire was so overrated for what it was carrying weight wise on my RV, that it was not working hard.

I've always thought that once a tire starts to break down, that it was at risk for a catastrophic failure?

The tire was not unmounted for inspection, but if it was a outer layer separation as he said it could be, how would they be able to see this?

Opinion? At 5 1/2 years of age, is it worth even considering monitoring and watching for growth? Or just replace and move on?

(I have a thread on Class A, asking for ride opinions between the XZA2 and the Cont HSL1 in 315/80R size. These are the two I'm currently considering to put on the steers. But, open for input on others to consider too!)

Hope you don't mind the PM, but, I was just a bit uncertain on which way to go.


Here are more pictures of the feature of concern. You can see the small bulge right above the "M"

Here is my reply
First off I do not feel that sidewall "bumps", "bulges" or "protrusions" occur because of misplaced or broken belts. Belts are under the tread not on the sidewall so I have to wonder what training, if any, the "gent" at "tire store" has received on tire construction or inspection procedures. Also not sure what he is talking about as the "outer layer" of the sidewall. In a TBR tire there is basically the thin innerliner then the body ply then the sidewall. So if he thinks the sidewall has separated then the tire has failed and should be replaced.

Now some fact based observations on sidewall bulges or outward protrusion vs depressions that are inward toward the air chamber and are indications of two completely different causes.

The inward depressions can occur once or twice around almost any radial tire. If you take a close look if full sunlight of smooth sidewall tires you will see depressions than might be about 1/4" to 1/2" wide in the circumferential direction. These are caused by the lap splice of body ply material that provides more resistance to the slight growth seen in all radials due to inflation. The depressions will run a radial direction from the wheel to the tread and seem to dispensary as you get near the tread or near the wheel. These are normal and I would only consider them minor cosmetic features of a tire.
An outward bulge may be 1/2" or as large as a couple of inches in the circumferential direction. The larger or more distinct the more concerned I would be about the durability of the tire. Usually bulges are the result of some impact damage done to the body cords that resulted in a few being broken due to shock loading.

Here is a blog post I did with pictures to help people understand.

Here is a post on an Impact Failure I had on my personal car

Now some with small features the eye plays tricks as to it being a bulge out or a depression in.  I have even seen instances of two depressions being close together such that the normal sidewall between the depressions gave the appearance of being a depression. The simple tool to use is a ruler or straight edge and to lay it across the area of interest. This will quickly identify if you have a bulge or depression.

What to do:
Review my blog posts above.
You might also find a different dealer. A simple Google for "Truck Tire Dealer Town"  where "Town" is a near-by larger community, should give you a number of options.
Are you dealing with a TCI  "Passenger/Light truck center" or a "Commercial Truck Center"  For 19.5 and larger size tires I would only deal with a Heavy truck Center.
You might also contact Michelin at their Customer Contact identifies on their RV tire page for a suggested location with people sufficiently trained in tire inspection to pass judgment on your tires.
you can tell them that your not happy with the inspection you got from "tire store" as they don't seem to understand the basics of tuck tire construction.

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