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Friday, January 3, 2020

Are your tires "Defective"? (updated post from Nov 2018)

People making the claim that their tires were somehow "Defective" is an all too often occurrence on various RV forums. I even hear this complaint at my RV tire seminars. I do note that when there are tire problems, including actual "failure" it's common for some to say "My xxx brand tires failed, I will never buy xxx tires again".

It's important that we have a mutual understanding of what is meant by tire "failure". For some, this means the tire simply came apart. The term "failure" could also be applied to a snow tire that didn't provide enough traction to prevent getting stuck on slick ice. To a driver of a race car, it might mean that the cornering on one specification tire wasn't as good as with a different specification. It could even mean the dry slick tread pattern failed to provide enough traction when it started to rain during the race.

Well sorry to tell you but there is no such thing as "Fail-Proof" tire. This was even said, under oath by DOT spokesperson during the Ford Explorer rollover fiasco of 2000.

Even the new "run-flat" tires available on some expensive cars can "fail" if driven too fast or too far when "flat".

Today's tires are amazingly robust. Even when they are made in some country other than the US. I am sure that many of us remember how bad "Made In Japan" was considered when we were growing up, but just think of the quality perception is today of cars made or designed in Japan.  As I pointed out in this blog previously it is important that the tires you are using are appropriate for your ACTUAL loads and usage. If you have a heavy trailer application and both the tire type and the size was wrong and the tread pattern was wrong. for the application. Why would this be the tire's fault?

If you put a truck tire with a heavy off-road mud traction tread design on the front of your 40' DP and had loud noise and vibration and the harsh ride would that be the tire's responsibility?
Would simply changing tire brands from say Bridgestone to Michelin solve the problems? No of course not.
From my experiences as a tire engineer, I can tell you that I can probably "fail" any tire in under an hour and under 50 miles if you let me set the conditions.

A tire is just a tool you use to get a job done. If you don't select the correct tool that is appropriate for the job you want to be done why is it the fault of the tool manufacturer? Think of the absolute best tool company. Now select one of their flat blade screwdrivers. OK now start using it as a chisel and pound on it as you try and cut through some rusty bolts. After cutting through a few bolts would you blame SK or MAC or  Snap-On or ???? if the point of the screwdriver is dented and chipped?

All too often tire selection seems to consider price as the number one concern. This observation is certainly supported by almost every post that asks for tire suggestions from RV owners. Sometimes it seems as if the price might also be the only consideration for some RV assemblers. Now I would be the last to offer that simply having a higher price doesn't automatically make any given tire "better" and I am not suggesting that price should not be considered.

For some, any tire "failure" is considered proof that it was somehow "defective" even is the tire was

We need to smarter consumers when it comes to tires if we want to avoid ending up with tires we consider "Defective". To me, a "defect" would mean there is an identifiable condition, in the tire when new, that would prevent the tire from performing as expected for the stated life of the tire "when applied and used properly for it's intended purpose".
This means we should not expect a tire to run overloaded or underinflated or at excessive speed for years at a time.

The various RV owners' manuals I have seen, include warnings and advice on load, inflation speed, and tire life. Have you read that information? Do you follow the recommendations? If you don't and the tire "failed" do you accept responsibility or do you simply claim the tire was somehow "defective"?


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