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Monday, March 20, 2023

Can you drive on a single tire if a dual fails?

 This question comes up every few months and the basic answer is NO it is not safe to travel more than a few hundred feet when one tire in a pair of duals fails.

However, I also know that some locations on the side of the road are not safe and if you decide that moving is the best option what can you do?

 In the tire industry, there are tables that provide information on how slow you need to drive as you increase the tire load above its normal load capacity if you want to try and prevent a second tire failure.

Basically, you need to run no faster than 40 mph if you are running 107% of the rated load.
If you want to run 113% you can drive no faster than 30 and the max speed drops to 20 mph if the overload is +18%.
The above also limit the "max travel time at those speeds to 2 hours with a minimum 1/2 hour "cool Down" time each 2 hours.

Since our RV owner was running at 200% load I would estimate that maximum speed he could travel without doing damage to the "good" tire to be no faster than 5 mph and even that is questionable as there are also distance limits for those conditions.

If you have a tire failure, no matter the reason, you need to change out the failed tire and should not attempt to "limp" home on its companion. If you are concerned for your safety on the side of the road, you need to be aware that driving over 5 mph means you MUST have the companion tire also replaced. No matter its age. As always when changing tires in a dual position you must also match the pair for OC.

Many in a thread said "slow down" but I doubt that any were thinking of less than 20 mph.  Some may have driven considerable distance at some "reduced speed" but is each case the companion tire should have also been replaced.

Monday, March 13, 2023

How are tire load ratings calculated?

 I had a question asked recently on an RV Forum about tire load ratings.

Mike posted:

Tireman9 — I’ve seen your posts with this “minimum inflation” statement in other threads in addition to this one. I never was able to find documentation in the Michelin files that states that, UNTIL I finally realized that the “Maximum load & pressure on sidewall” statement in their Michelin Truck Tire Data Book and Inflation Charts establishes the relationship between weight and psi for each 5 psi increment in the chart.

I like to weigh our MH at least once a year because we’ve been making some changes to it, and our trips vary from short to fairly long with different loading as a result. Long story short, I use a simple Excel sheet to determine psi requirements based on scale weights (it’s just easier for me and I like using Excel). Well, this simple little Excel lookup routine turned into a bit of a pain until I realized that the weight increments for each 5 psi increase are not consistent. In fact, they are all over the place.

The way I found this out is I was calculating psi # for our MH’s weights in two ways. One was to find the corresponding psi for my actual scale weight, and then add 10% to the psi. The second way was to increase my scale weights by 10% and then find the corresponding psi for that weight. When I compared the resulting psi’s between the two methods, they were different in many instances, but not consistently so.

So, the question is why do the single tire increments vary from 140 lbs. to 230 lbs., and the duals vary from 230 lbs. to 410 lbs. Can you explain? Does setting tire pressures really have to be this exact? And which way is correct? You would think that both would have the same results, but nah-Baby-nah.

My response:

The simple answer is. The load formula is not linear, as you can see here.

As you can see, there are some values that are exponential.

Adjusting the load for dual position

On the question of adjusting the load for dual position, there are more instructions we tire engineers must follow:

I suggest:

1. Learn actual tire loading on a truck scale when the RV is loaded to your expected heaviest.

2. Assume one end of an axle is supporting 51% to 52% of the total axle load (this estimate is not exact). This is why “4 corner weights” are preferred if you are near the load limit.

3. Consult load and inflation tables to learn the MINIMUM cold inflation.

4. Add at least 10% to the inflation in #3 and use this new number for your “cold inflation goal.”

5. Set your TPMS Low-Pressure Warning level to the inflation in #3 above.

I think that if you follow these instructions you can stop using your Excel calculations, which can be misleading … and Go camping.

Monday, March 6, 2023

'Defective’ tires: Just what is the ‘defect’?

 I have heard people claim they had a “defective” tire when they post about a tire failure. I have even addressed claims from lawyers and supposed “experts” that a group or even thousands of tires had “a defect” that caused tires to fail. However, for some reason, they can almost never point to or identify the specific component or material that contained said “defect”.

I spent the majority of my 40+ years as a tire design engineer looking at and investigating tire failures. I can say that I have identified a few tires that contained a “defect.” But before I continue we need to be sure we have a common understanding of the word “defect” and what we mean when we use it.

Definition of “defect”

Merriam-Webster says the meaning of “defect” is “an imperfection or abnormality that impairs quality, function, or utility: shortcoming, flaw.” I note that they are not saying that an item has a defect if it has failed to perform. They are talking about a specific “imperfection or abnormality” in an item.

I sometimes offer the following in an effort to clarify the concept. If we discover a dead body, should we always assume that the person was murdered? Of course not. But jumping to a conclusion about the most extreme cause seems to be what some want to do while ignoring the need for a thoughtful and reasoned collection of facts and evidence.

Tires can fail for dozens, if not hundreds, of different contributing factors, but most do not involve design or manufacturing mistakes. When I read a post on an RV forum or receive an email about a “failed” tire, I do not start with the assumption that there was a manufacturing or design mistake. I do start with a close examination of the tire, wheel, and valve, as many times the evidence is in front of our faces. The question is, are we willing to take the time and make the effort to look for the evidence that is almost always there?

Why people might use the word “defect”

I believe that many times some people use the word “defect” as they do not have the knowledge of how to do even a basic inspection. That is understandable. But if we want to avoid a repeat, wouldn’t it be best to learn the real reason for the failure and take steps to try and prevent a re-occurrence? What bothers me, though, is when I hear lawyers or reporters use the word possibly to grab the attention of those reading an article. I believe that a headline saying “Another RV tire failed, facts to follow” would not gain much readership.

In my posts on and in my RV Tire Safety blog,  I have provided numerous examples of failed tires that were initially claimed to be “defective” such as the following examples.

A tire that was run with low inflation.

One that has an external cut.

Or this tire with a plug in the sidewall.

Or this tire failure below that was due to leaking air. This failure even ended up on YouTube, but the video did not mention the evidence of the tire having been run with very low air pressure.

Currently, there are news articles mentioning failures that occurred many years ago on some RV tires that might have been improperly installed on some heavy RVs. While I have no details, I do recall reading the word “defective” in the article, but no mention of what the “defect” might have been.

Did a “defect” really cause the tire failure?

I would suggest that when you read a “news” article about tire failures and find the word “defective,” you stop and see if the author mentions what the imperfection or abnormality was in the tire that caused the failure.