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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New trailer sat for 5 years. Does it need new tires before a long trip?

Got this question:

"Good Afternoon Roger;  I have kind of a critical need for your expertise.  I've been a "Hardtopper" since 1970, and have always made every attempt to take good care of my travel trailers.  My latest and last, is a 2013 Flagstaff with of course dual axles.  I brought it home new after trading with a dealer, on August 31st, 2012.  Then the fun started !!  The tires are covered and are on wood planks, never having touched ground.  Rather than being able to realize a life-long dream of just once getting out of this horrible Winter climate, say to Florida for a season's stay, I was hit with the need for surgery and lengthy PT.  Each year since, I have been stricken with yet another number of surgery's for different reasons, and this past December fell on the ice at my home, breaking 3 ribs, thus cancelling once again, any hopes and dreams.  Now, after all that drama, I wonder if you might offer some "practical" advice on my tires.  I am a long ways from a rich man, barely getting by on my Social Security, so I'd really hate to have to replace the tires sitting unused as they have been after five years BUT, I would defer to your advisory.  I have read posts on and others have posted any number of articles in the past on tires, so I am a bit apprehensive, and sure to heck would appreciate your input.  Many Thanks in advance,  Grant M."

My reply:

"Sorry to hear about your situation, Grant. Your tires may be 2012 or even 2011 vintage (you can check the last 4 numbers of the DOT serial to confirm) but either way that's pretty old. How often did you check the air pressure? It should have been every month.  While they are covered and on boards, which is good, they were still under load without ever moving, which is bad, especially if they ever lost more than 5 to 10 psi.
If they are Radials there is a chance the steel belts may have lost some adhesion to the rubber due to moisture never being driven out of the tires with the warmth of being run down the road.
I would suggest you sell the tires to someone who has a utility trailer that only travels locally. If they have very little wear, you should get a reasonable price for them. You didn't say where you live but if you are thinking of travel from "North" to Florida I would recommend against the trip with a trailer that has just been sitting for 5 years. As a minimum you need to have bearings and brakes checked and yes, I am afraid new tires. You are just pushing the odds of having problems on the road that would be much more expensive to fix on the trip than confirming they are all OK before the trip.
Here are some of my posts on tire AGE from my RV Tire blog you might want to review."

Good luck.



  1. I come from a large farming family. We have a lot of trailers for camping and for a variety of hauling uses. We keep our tires as long as possible. Some of the tires are at least 20 years old. My grandfather has kept careful track of the failures of tires, and his experience has been that tires do not fail due to age until they get really old and have deep cracks in them. Some of our trucks, farm equipment, and trailers have tires that have shallow cracks in them but they still haul heavy loads at freeway speeds. We even repair old tires that go flat from a nail. If we bought new tires every 5 years we would probably go broke!

    1. Sidewall cracking is not an indication the tire has failed. It is a symptom of a loss of rubber strength due to heat and age.

  2. I have a single axle w/ 2 Carrier Star ST tires, 4.80 x 12". The sidewall says max. 990lbs at 90 psi. The trailer is rated for 2000lbs max., however fully loaded, it weighs 1200lbs. What pressure should I run as 90psi is a very firm ride. Thanks, Bob

    1. You should not exceed 990# on either tire. If you have confirmed only 600# max load on either tire then your minimum inflation pressure is 40 psi. But I would strongly suggest you run at least 70.

  3. In our travels our trailer may sit for up to 3 months sometimes. I keep pressures checked and tires covered. We keep track of Corner weights and our CIP is based on actual weight +10%. Sometimes we are parked on concrete, sometimes grass, sometimes dirt. Does it help with tire wear if during the time we are parked the tire is rased via jack and rotated so a different section of the tire is on the bottom and then sit back on the ground? I’ve been following your advice since we started Fulltiming in 2013. Thanks


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