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Friday, April 30, 2021

Are ST type tires better because they have a higher "Speed rating"? Maybe not.

Saw an RV forum post about better durability of trailer tires. 

The poster said: " Old trailer tires were rated to 65 mph. Newer tires are rated to 81 or 88 mph. That is a big difference, and since i upgraded to Load Range D and Speed Rating M (81 mph), my trailer blowouts have disappeared. "

My response:
Glad you are getting better durability from your trailer tires. I would you not assign all the better durability on the higher speed rating as we are seeing that many/most ST tires manufactured since 2018 to be more durable than the tires of 2000. The increase in Load Range probably gave your tire durability a good boost. One thing you can look at is the material list molded on the tire sidewall. I think you will see that older tires did not list a layer of Nylon or other material on top of the two steel belts in the tire tread, while many of today's ST tires list the Nylon.

We need to remember that "Speed Rating" is a bit misleading. ST type tires have their load capacity formula based on a max operating speed of 65 MPH since 1970's, otherwise their load capacity would be similar to LT type tires. The test used to establish a "Speed Rating" is a 30 minute step speed test designed for passenger type tires. To pass a "speed level" a tire only has to be able to run 30 minutes without failing, after which, the tire is scrap. So clearly a tire with a 81 mph "rating" should not be considered acceptable for running many cumulative hours at 80 mph.

We really need to only use the "rating" as a measure of RELATIVE heat resistance. ALSO it can be misleading to try and compare the rating on tires from company "A" with tires from company "B" as each company will use test results from a small number of tires that are actually tested, to establish the "rating" symbol for that group of tires. This is done statistically and the statistical prediction used by company "A" is not going to be the same as used by company "B".

Also there is no DOT test for this rating so I doubt that you can depend on all tires of a specific speed rating to perform the same. With no federal regulation for speed performance, I do not see a reason to expect any ST type tire to be capable of running at the stated speed for more than 30 minutes when brand new on a perfectly smooth surface as used in the test laboratory.

Bottom Line:

When shopping for new tires for your trailer I suggest you "read the fine print". Look at the material list for the tread area molded on the tire sidewall. An ST tire with more than just steel and polyester listed i.e.  Polyester + 2 layer Steel + 1 layer Nylon, will probability be more durable than one without the Nylon when operated at speeds above 65 MPH. IMO a "Speed rating" of L ( 75 mph) should be more than sufficient for RV trailer use.


Friday, April 23, 2021

Internet "Experts" have Dennis confused. Maybe I can help

 Dennis said:

Okay ... I've been RV'ng in Class-A's for 40 plus years and thought I had this figured out, but the "experts" have emerged to confuse me, once again. So, what is the definitive answer to the question of tire pressure ... should it be the coach manufacturer's recommendation on the placard in most every RV, or the tire manufacturer's inflation recommendation? I know for sure, the "cold pressure" stamped on the tire is NOT the recommended pressure. Please advise.
Dennis, I completely understand your frustration.
You need to remember that there are three entities that are trying to answer three different questions when it comes to tire inflation.
First the tire company.    They make tires that must meet various tire industry standards for tire dimensions and load capacity. The tire company must also certify to DOT that the tires they make are capable of passing a number of different strength and durability standards if they want to sell tires for use on US roads. These requirements are why you end up with the numbers molded on the tire sidewall. These include the Maximum load capacity for both Single and Dual-position. They must also identify the minimum inflation needed to support both the single and dual-position loads. We need to remember that the tire company does not know which RV or truck the tire will be mounted on. The tire company also doesn't know if the tire will be on the Front, in Dual on the drive, or even if it will be on a TAG axle so they can not give a single inflation number that meets all these requirements

Second, the RV Mfg has to meet some different DOT regulations. The primary one is that the Certification Label aka tire placard must specify inflation for the tire that would be sufficient to support the stated GAWR. Example: If the GAWR for a front axle was 6,000# then the tire they select must be capable of supporting 3,000# and the RV company must tell you, the owner, the MINIMUM inflation needed for the tire to be able to carry 3,000#. Since each axle probably has a different GAWR that is why you may have different inflations on the Certification label for each axle.

Third If the RV company wants to be able to meet RVIA standards the tire must be capable of supporting 110% of the axle load so in our example that means 3,300#. Here things can start to get messy. The inflation needed to support 3,300# is almost certainly different so the Tire placard would need to state the inflation for 3,300#. It is OK for the inflation on the placard to be higher than what DOT requires but it can not be any lower.

Finally, we get to you, the owner.
Option A. is to simply inflate to the number on the tire sidewall. This, in some cases, is significantly higher than the tire needs so you may get a hard ride and in extreme cases more rapid center wear.
Option B is to follow the placard inflation which on many Motorhomes is lower than the inflation number on the tire. So the owner gets confused.
Option C is what I and other tire engineers recommend. We have solid reasons for saying that the Rv owner needs to get on a truck scale, learn the actual load on the tires, and then learn the minimum inflation needed to support the actual load on the tires. We know this is the best for the tire because the data shows that a majority of RV have a tire or axle in overload and this is a major reason for tire problems in the RV world.
Option D This is a better version of Option C. This is even better but is not as easy as Option C. The data shows that almost no RV has the axle load split 50/50 side to side so simply taking the truck stop scale reading and dividing by two can be misleading. Some RVs have been found to be as much as 1,000# out of balance side to side. Option D means you need to learn the individual load on each tire position when the RV is loaded to its heaviest. This is almost impossible at regular truck stop scales. To learn the individual tire position load you need to get a company like RVSEF or Escapees to use their scales to get the individual weights. It is also possible, with a little work to find a platform scale at a gravel yard or some lumber or cement block companies have large scales. Here ere is a worksheet to help with the numbers. Once you learn the actual load on the heavy end of each axle you would use that weight to consult the tire Load and inflation tables to learn the MINIMUM inflation for all the tires on that axle. We also recommend that if possible you add 10% to the table inflation to give you a nice margin. Just do not exceed the max inflation rating for your wheels.

I hope this helps clear up your confusion.

Friday, April 16, 2021

It's rubber and needs some protection but I'm not talking about tires

 Had a windshield wiper fail when I pulled my RV out of storage before I headed South to the FMCA Big convention in Perry, GA a few weeks ago.





 Why did it fail?  It got old, just like tires do. Also I failed to protect the rubber blades. 

So yes this is a situation of do what I say not what I do. So how do I protect my rubber wiper blades? I got some white vinyl table cloth material, cut it and hot melt glued one edge.

This should give an extra year or two to the blades.

Friday, April 9, 2021

What's the "Best" TPMS

 No I don't want to start a fight. Probably everyone that already has a TPMS will say that what they have is the best.

I would prefer to identify the features that I think are important and then let the customer do the shopping because there is no way to predict what the sale price will be next week or what new brand or model TPM will hit the market next month.

Here is my list of Features:

Key features for me would be (sort of in order. but as they say Your mileage may vary)
1. Ability to set the low pressure alarm level and not have to change other pressure levels.
2. Lifetime warranty
3. Ability to set the high pressure level and not have to change other pressure levels.
4 Ability to set the high temperature level to 158F (70C) if it is not already set to that level.
5. Include a signal "repeater" or booster
6 Ability to add 1 to 9 more sensors in the future if needed (+1 more for a spare, + 2 or 4 more if you move the system to one with more tires, +4 if you want to monitor your toad.) This avoids the need to buy a new system in the future when you only need additional sensors.



Friday, April 2, 2021

Got a flat. Is "Sealant" a good "fix"?

 Improper Repairs: NHTSA (DOT)

“A plug by itself is not an acceptable repair.”


 “The proper repair of a punctured tire requires a plug 

 for the hole and a patch for the area inside the tire

 that surrounds the puncture hole.”


 “Punctures through the tread can be repaired if they 

are not too large, but punctures to the sidewall should 

not be repaired.


 Tires must be removed from the rim to be properly 

inspected before being plugged and patched.”


NOTE: Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone say the same thing.



The use of sealant or Slime or "Fix-A-Flat" or similar is in some cases worse than using a plug. Not only can't the inside of the tire be inspected but the use of such product may void any tire warranty and make if difficult or impossible to make a proper repair.

Here are some pictures from one of my seminars on RV tires.

In the first picture you can see all the crack damage in the tire. These can lead to unexpected tire failure.