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Monday, June 12, 2017

"Dry Rot" is a misnomer regarding tires

Read this on an RV trailer forum, but most of the info applies to all types of tires.

"My understanding is that there seems to be a belief or a known orthodoxy that despite external appearances, the inside could rot out and that tires that appear all fine and dandy on the outside, after that long are not on the inside?

I believe the only "proof of concept" is common anecdotal experience:

People have owned tires that appear fine that are "old yet all seems fine", and they experience unanticipated tread separation and such....several anecdotes to the point of it being a "common wisdom" best I can tell.

Beyond that, I have not seen a "more objective" verification of my mind, after the death of such an "old yet otherwise in good shape and used properly" tire, an autopsy of that tire could show evidence of this "rotting from the inside"....I am not sure anyone has posted details about what that would look like (beside unexplained otherwise tread separation)?

Absence of such "more objective review", I am very very inclined to accept the common wisdom or orthodoxy on this matter until clearly proven otherwise as the cost of being wrong is potentially massive comparatively!!!!!!!!! Many many posts on this site have expressed huge regret about pushing past such "widely accepted advice"

My response to the above:
I did "tire autopsies" for decades before retiring. I have even posted pictures on my blog and have over 30 posts that have "Failure" as a label. Best advice I can give is to read and review the information on my blog. Listen to the only two (to my knowledge) actual tire engineers on RV forums: myself and CapriRacer.

"Dry Rot" is a misnomer. Rubber is a long chain polymer. The chemistry is such that the polymeric chains break down over time. The rate the chains break is related to heat and other energy (UV) input. Nothing is actually "drying out" or "rotting" in the common understanding of the word. Sidewall cracking (dry rot) is just a symptom that suggests the internal rubber compounds have probably lost some of their elasticity, which increases the potential for cracking, which may lead to separation.

There is no single answer to why some people have longer tire life than others except for the fact that some operate their tires at higher temperatures (load, speed and inflation plus ambient temperature) than other people.

Any tire can fail with a Low Inflation sidewall flex failure or "Blowout". Radial tires in trailer application are exposed to significantly higher Interply Shear forces due to suspension design that the tires on the tow vehicle - See my post on Interply Shear.

While operating a tire can help the "Anti-Oxidants" or AO's migrate to the surface, simply driving the tire is not IMO an efficient or effective thing to do, especially when we consider that cleaning of the tire sidewall, which will remove the AO's, can result in more harm that any driving around can prevent.

How many of you have bothered to make load and inflation adjustments necessary for driving your ST type tires any faster than 65mph?

Do you even know the actual loads on your trailer tires?

How many do an annual "free spin" inspection of your trailer tires?

How many are running TPMS (tire pressure monitoring systems) so you get warned when you drop down to the minimum inflation needed to support the measured tire load?

If you feel that checking your pressure with a hand gauge is sufficient, do you make that check every 10 to 15 minutes of operation? If you have a tire leaking air you can destroy it in just a few miles, so the fact you checked the air 4 hours prior to the failure is of no importance.

Sorry for the rant but the FACTS are out there. It takes a little effort to drastically reduce the potential for premature tire failure. There is no magic snake oil spray that will make your tires last 20 years. There are steps that you can take to get 5+ years of life in trailer application and 7+ in motorhome and tow vehicle application.


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