Travel Trailer Tire Trauma

Tools Josep Ma. Rosell

April 10, 2012
Filed under Trailer How To

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We had ST235/80R16 Goodyear Marathon tires on our 2010 Keystone Montana trailer. While traveling south on Route 85 in North Carolina, our driver’s side rear tire blew out with such force that it damaged the side of the RV to the tune of $982. Two days later the front tire blew out on the driver’s side in South Carolina. These tires are rated to carry 3,420 pounds single and are made in China. I check the air pressure every morning for 80 psi in all four tires before we start the day. The shipping weight on the 2010 model 3455SA Montana is 12,270 pounds. The carrying capacity for the unit is 3,290 pounds for a total of 15,560 pounds max weight. The four Goodyear tires rated at 3,420 pounds come to 13,680 pounds. 

Am I wrong in saying the tires on my RV are not the correct tires for the unit? I would think the four tires should be rated to carry at least the 15,560 pounds. When I took the RV to the dealer for repair, the body shop manager said he has seen a lot of these tires blow out and cause damage. The tire dealers are recommending a 12- or 14-ply tire for the unit. I’m going to replace all the tires on this unit with 12-ply tires rated at 3,960 pounds single. Goodyear says I must have hit something in the road to blow out the tires. Two new Goodyear tires cost us $442.39. If there was something in the road, why didn’t the truck tires blow out first? 

I also replaced the rear passenger-side tire, as it does not look right to me. The tread is uneven and I did not want another blow out. These tires came on the new unit in 2009. The date code on the passenger tire is 1908. We do cover the tires when the unit is not being used and the tires are kept on plywood. We tow with a 2006 Chevy Silverado 2500 diesel. Any advice would be appreciated.

– Dick Jarvela | Palm Bay, Florida

 

Fifth-wheel trailers are designed to carry about 20 percent of their weight on the hitch, so subtract 20 percent from the 15,560 maximum weight. That calculates to 12,448 pounds, which is how much of the maximum portion of the fully loaded trailer’s weight should be carried by the tires. That figure is well below the 13,680 pounds the four tires are rated for. Tire manufacturers now use load ranges such as E and F, rather than ply ratings. Tire inflation pressure should be determined by actually weighing the loaded RV’s axles on a truck scale and then referring to a load-inflation table from that tire manufacturer (available online or at tire dealers). A date code of 1908 means the tire was made in the 19th week of 2008, so age should not be the cause of failure. It is possible that the tires picked up nails or something, leaked down, got hot and blew apart. I’ve seen it a number of times where the first tires that run over an object stand it up, so a following tire will be punctured. In fact I’ve seen more punctures in rear tires than fronts.

Have a qualified shop check your trailer’s axle alignment. This is an often-overlooked factor in excess tire failure situations. Also, having your trailer tires balanced is a good idea for the same reasons it’s a good idea on your tow rig: The cost is low and you can add miles and years to your trailer tire lifespan.

- Ken Freund


To send your questions to RV Clinic, write to 2575 Vista Del Mar, Ventura, Calif., 93001; or email Tech@trailerlife.com.

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9 Responses to “Travel Trailer Tire Trauma”

  1. John Mauldin on April 16th, 2012 5:03 pm

    I bought a KZ Sportsman fiver in 2004 brand new. I think that, overall, the trailer is good, though there are some things I would change. About three years ago, I went to check the tires before a weekend trip. Though I have few miles on the trailer, for some reason I got a bad feeling when I kneeled down to check the air pressure and realized the trailer tires were Chinese. Fifty miles out of town, the two tires on the right side of the trailer exploded, and if it were not for additional reinforcing of the wheel well by KZ, I know that there would have been similar damage. I called the local store and bought a complete set of American made trailer tires and I don’t plan to buy Chinese. “Experts” say the imported tires meet the same standards as ones made in the US but I don’t believe it. I use exclusively American made.

    [Reply]

    Ken Whitman Reply:

    John I am trying to find American made ST 225/75 R15 load range E or higher. I am in the Greenville,SC area. Any info would be appreciated very much.All the info I have gotten leads me to believe they are all imports. Thanks Ken

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  2. James Levandoski on April 18th, 2012 9:06 pm

    I just bought a camp trailer dry wt of 4300 lbs, tow weight of 6100 lbs. I’m pulling it with a 2010 Toyota Tacoma crew cab 4wd long bed. It weighs 4800 lbs wet. 4.0 Ltr 236 HP v6. 6speed auto 3.90 rearend ratio. Is this a adequate vehicle to use. Mfg Max tow weight is 6500 lbs. Vehicle Max. Weight is 5460 lbs.

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  3. Brian on April 20th, 2012 4:29 pm

    I found the problem “tires are made in China”. Had more than one made in china tire blow out on different trailers. (i don’t mean just a leak, I mean catastrophic failure). Buy made anywhere else but china tires and the problems have never come back. Multiple trailers, multiple miles.

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  4. Cindy on May 1st, 2012 2:33 pm

    Three blow outs heading to Mass from Florida, 3 blowouts two years ago talked to an expert tire man he said we need larger tires Keystone said no way. Filed complaint with NHTSA.com. We all need to ban together and solve this issue before a death file a report 1-888-327-4236.

    [Reply]

    Debbie Wunsch Reply:

    We too have had 2 Marathon tires blow out in a weeks time. Luckily we were able to control the trailer. We have a 365 Montana Fifth Wheel. I was so upset and beside myself. It could have been disasterous. No one will take responsiblity for these tires.

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  5. BO BRYANT on May 3rd, 2012 2:50 pm

    GREAT MAG. I HAD THREE GOODYEAR MARATHONS BLOW UP
    AND BUST UP MY TRAILER!! JUST GOT A NEW FOREST RIVER
    2104 5000 LBS LOADED. I AM VERY TIRE NERVOUS! IT HAS 4
    KENDA KARRIER LOADSTAR CHINA 205 75 14 TIRES ON IT.
    ARE THEY ANY GOOD?? CANT SEEM TO FIND ANY MADE ANY WHERE ELSE! DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY THOUGHTS OR SUGGESTIONS?
    THANKS
    BO

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  6. Donny Penwell on August 15th, 2012 11:38 am

    I had Two GOODYEAR MARATHONS explode on my 2012 Cardinal and tore out my fender wells on both sides it did over 9,000 worth of damage plus price of all new tires no one wants to admit there is a problem with the tires.

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  7. D. Jamison on December 15th, 2012 11:26 pm

    Folks, look at the design margins. Trailer manufactures put tires on that are rated to cary about 2 lbs. more than the trailer weighs (That is before we start changing the lightweight foam in the beds and dinette etc.). Compare that to trucks and cars that might be 30% or more above the weight of the vehicle.
    Do yourself a favor and replace tires every 3 years regardless of miles, they loose 50% of their strength by then. Get the largest tires that fit your wheels, or consider one size larger wheel. Never drive fast, especially in the heat of summer (when we all travel). Touch the outside of the tires whenever you stop to catch a “hot one” before it explodes. Tires don’t wear evenly, rotate front to back. every 5k or so. Regardless of fault, that is what we can do to be safer.
    Don’t be too quick to blame the Chinese for cost cutting design decisions.
    Don’t forget, much of the tounge weight is put on the trailer axles when you are using and equalizer hitch.

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