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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"I inspected my tires but still had a failure"

Read this on an RV trailer forum:

"Checked the air in all 4 tires and inspected them before we pulled out. We made it 20 miles from the house when the first tire let go. The tire service center and I both checked the remaining 3 and the spare. They had the correct air pressure and no signs of any issues. We made about 15 miles down the road and the second 1 blew out -- 2 roadside assistance calls and 2 insurance claims. I am not happy with dynamic tire or (RV trailer company name) at the moment."

I offered the following comment:

Sounds like the "inspections" being done are not sufficiently detailed. A "proper and complete" inspection doesn't consist of checking the outside sidewall and most of the tread for % tread wear. A LOT more is required if you want to improve your chances of finding the early signs and indications of impending tire failure.

In this blog, I have previously covered what I would consider a thorough inspection with example of what a failing tire looks like externally, and then I did an autopsy to show the actual condition of the subject tire. Note that the person making the video felt the tire had failed and cut the tire looking for the belt separation but even though he has an engineering and mechanical background, he failed to properly identify the location of the failure. IMO this was because he simply had not had enough experience in tire forensics, as you probably have to do a minimum of a few dozen autopsies before you can easily and quickly know where to do the cutting -- and that would be what is needed to find a large separation as seen in the subject tire. Smaller issues are harder to find and take a more experienced eye.

The free spin can be sufficient to establish that the subject tire is in the process of failing and should not be driven on.

Today it is popular in politics to complain about "the elite" and to disdain experience, but I believe that there are many fields where actual experience is necessary if you want competent results.

Very few tire service people have been given the opportunity to do investigative-level tire inspection, as their job normally doesn't require issuing a detailed report that identified the root cause of a tire failure. This not the tire tech's fault nor is it the fault of the tire store owner. You might liken this to the store clerk at a CVS or Walgreen pharmacy. They are simply not fully knowledgeable in the interaction of medications, which is why a Pharmacist is the person responsible to fill prescriptions, but I would not trust a Pharmacist to do surgery.

Sometimes competence only comes with experience.

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  1. I check the air in our trailer and tow vehicle tires before (and during) every trip. If they're down even five pounds, I air them up. A few weeks ago I found one of my trailer tires down to 35 pounds. Normal air is 80 pounds. Hmmm, a flat on its way. I took the trailer to my tire guy (two blocks away) to fix it. Low and behold, HE discovered the inside tread on that tire was bald. Wow! The mud flap hangs low enough that I couldn't see the tire from the rear. I never stuck my head between the tires to check that. I DO NOW! So, if it hadn't been for this flat tire thing, I would have taken off with a bald tire. Then I had to find a place to straighten the axle, which was the culprit in the tires demise.

  2. How old was the tire? On one side of the tire will be the DOT code. DOT xxxxxx wwyy. The xxs are unique for manufacturer, plan, and design. The wwyy is the two digit week number in year since 2000. After 6 years, you need to replace the tires. Even if they have very little wear on them.

  3. Having experienced a front tire blowout on my 43 foot motorhome six weeks ago, the subject of this blog caught my attention. I put two new tires on the front axle but should I replace the other six at this time? The DOT date shows they are 4.5 years old, have 30K miles on them with no noticeable abnormal wear pattern. What specifically should I be looking for?

    1. 4.5 years on Motorhome is not automatically too old. but on trailer much higher chance of failure.

      At 4 - 5 years motorhomes should get the tires inspected by dealer for the tire brand you are running. Get them to make statement in writing that they inspected the tires. If they say there is something wrong with a tire ask them to point to the problem. Un-likely that more than one tire will have the same "problem" This will prevent them from just telling you need all new tires. If they insist that ALL are bad I suggest a 2nd opinion.

      If OK I would get another inspection each year but replace by 10 years old no matter what.

      Read my posts on "How old is too old" ( 2 part)

      You might also consider the info on this post


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