Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why do so many trailer tires (ST) fail?

There is no clear answer, only speculation. Anecdotal information drives speculations into name calling and negative design confidence.
As everyday tire users we are spoiled. We don't suffer tire failures with our everyday vehicles. When we do they can almost always be accounted for. Most of us will go for many years without a single tire failure. Then we get an RV trailer and POP goes the tires.

The tires on our everyday vehicles are - in most cases - specifically designed for the vehicle they are on. They are quality graded for all sorts of conditions with tread designs to match the grading. Their load capacity has been derived from the maximum loaded vehicle with a 6% reserve left over which will seldom, if ever, be used. They are constantly in use so the built-in chemical compounds stay in action and degrading is held at the bare minimum. Most of them will wear out long before they will ever get old enough to be effected by degradation or age or both.

On the other hand the RV trailer also has tires specifically designed for their position. And that's where almost all of the similarity ends. Seldom has a tire design been scrutinized as often and with such detail as the ST tire. Almost all of the American manufacturers have given up on the trailer tire or have sent it to their off shore plants in faraway places like China, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan or Thailand etc.

Most users that have had a ST tire failure or numerous ones are not going to like or agree with many of my analogies on this subject. The overwhelming evidence will support my stance but there are no official statistical findings to support what I say. But, logic always has a strong influence on many outcomes in the absence of other evidence.

In the absence of numerous recalls for the ST tire one must assume the design is sound and cannot, by itself, have caused the many failures reported against it.

Once the design is ruled out of the failure scenario  the cause must lie elsewhere. So, is there a single cause or a combination of causes? I like multiple causes over the single one. Of course any highly abused single cause can also be the culprit.

Here are my accusations. We overload our trailers. We speed with our trailers. We take a somewhat lackadaisical attitude about our trailer's tire pressures. We store our trailers for long periods of time - six months or more - with no regard for the tire's condition or pressures. The trailer may not even be level which causes tires on the low side to become overloaded for their entire time in storage. We don't balance or rotate the trailer tires. Sometimes the spare is
exposed to the elements for so long it explodes.