Is it OK to drive with one flat dually tire? Nope. Here’s why

21

By Gail Marsh
You’re driving down the road, happy to be headed to your campground destination, when suddenly your tire pressure gauge indicates a problem. Now what? That was the question we recently faced. We’d been driving for hours in seemingly endless traffic and were tired and hungry. Adding to our frustration was the fact that we were in the middle of a 25-mile construction zone. We couldn’t pull over because there wasn’t a shoulder! Not the best of luck, huh?

When one tire from a set of dual tires loses air, the other (non-flat) tire carries the total weight that both tires usually share. In other words, one tire was carrying half the weight of our truck plus the hitch weight of our fifth-wheel. Normally, we would have pulled our entire rig completely off the roadway and called for roadway assistance, but because the highway offered no shoulder, we were forced to drive on. We put on our hazard lights, considerably slowed our speed, and pulled off the highway at the very next exit. 

We hoped to find a gas station or Walmart at the exit. And … yes! We limped into the Walmart parking lot, jumped out to view the tire damage, and called our emergency service provider. Within an hour, the tire was replaced.

So, is it okay to drive with one flat dually tire? Experts say “no.” We really had no choice because of the road construction, but large trucks and tow vehicles have dually tires for a reason – the ability to handle the weight of the truck plus whatever you are hauling. Industry experts say that if a tire is driven when more than 20% of its air is gone, the tire is considered to be a “run-flat” or a “ruined tire.”

Not only that, but you risk serious damage to your rig. A ruined tire can come apart suddenly, and slap mercilessly against your truck or rig. The hard rubber banging against the plastic RV skirting can quickly make mincemeat out of your RV’s exterior. Driving too long on a damaged tire can almost guarantee that the compromised tire will be unsavable. 

Our TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) saved us from RV damage and quite possibly helped us avoid a wreck. We had no idea that the tire was losing air. The warning signal on our monitoring system was the only way we knew about the compromised tire. A tire monitoring system is one special piece of equipment that is a must for all RVers, everywhere.

##RVT981

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E D
15 days ago

Never had flat on trailer, but picked up piece of metal in truck tire near Gila Bend, punched hole size of pencil through tire, flew out, dented top of fender well , came down in front of tire, punched hole through fender. Never had tire trouble with trailer because I changed them to truck tires right away. 60000 miles later tires were still good, change to new ones, don’t like changing tires on road

E D
14 days ago
Reply to  E D

correction on mileage, tires rated 60000 mi, drove 45000 mi

Selene
22 days ago

I put on a TPS system on my Mercedes Sprinter with extenders for inside dually. Extender cause stem leak resulting in tire alarm going off while on 20 miles of rough construction with no where to turn off. Removed extender which solved problem and luckily tire shop found no damage done to the tire.

Tony F Stekar
24 days ago

AT 45 mph my inside tire on my dually came apart didn’t have any warning till it torn the box up . dealer said it would be cheaper to buy new which it was !00 dollars . Went to a shop that replaces box for flat beds, got one same color a year newer worked out great. bought me tire monitoring system 3 months later.

Neal Davis
24 days ago

We have driven our RV 31000 miles with about 29000 of those miles on the original (c. 2014) tires. Because our RV sat in the heat (and sun?) of Texas for more than a year before purchasing it, we decided to replace the tires a bit early (June 2020). We use 303 aerospace protectant on our sidewalls, place tire covers on our tires if we park for more than 2 days, and have a TST TPMS. We do all we know to do to avoid air losses in our tires. So far, we have been successful.

J J
24 days ago

The part missing from the article is how they also replaced the other tire on the same side because it was driven on for many miles while it was severely overloaded…

Don
23 days ago
Reply to  J J

Finally, someone noticed that only one tire appears to have been replaced. All the previous commenters missed this important fact as well, or chose to ignore it as the articles author did. That severely overloaded tire should have been replaced at the same time as the one that blew.

John Macatee
24 days ago

August 17, 2020, approximately 45 miles from Baker, Ca. On a 2 lane hwy heading to NV pulling our 24′ travel trailer double axel through a sunny 120 degree afternoon the left rear tire blew out with a loud bang and only beat my mud flap off. My speed was between 55 and 60 mph, and I had no sway at all, the weight distribution system & sway bar, was a + .There was nowhere to pull off the road as far as I could see, no hard surface, I pulled off the hwy leaving only the rear flat tire on the pavement. All the tires were down into the sand a good 4″. I called AAA and was told it would be at least 2 hours. I got out and changed the tire. It is so important to be prepared: flares and or triangle warning reflectors, water, gloves, and tools. The asphalt & lug wrench felt like 200 degrees! Under that sun glare you could not see my emergency lights at all. 4 wheel drive helped getting back on the hwy.

paul
24 days ago

the first year we had our class a we had three blow outs turns out the selling dealer had put eight year old tyres on it shame on me for trusting them la mesa

Dan
24 days ago

Fortunate enough to vote “never”. Hope I can keep it that way.

Ron T.
24 days ago

On our shakedown trip in our first motorhome, we had a tire (inside left dual) that would lose air one day and not the next. It seemed to be fine when we got home. So our first day of our first real trip we stop at a produce stand and I check the tire before we leave & it’s flat. We limped just down & across the highway to a service station with paid air. A dollar later I knew that tire had to come off. It was 95 degrees so I put the shade on that side did the deed. As An ex-mechanic I had the proper tools and we were soon on the road to my home town. It was a broken rubber valve stem so I had a shop take the tire off the rim so I could inspect it. I saw no signs of damage so we put it back on with a new metal valve stem & it was still on the MH when we sold it years later.

Grant Graves
24 days ago

Careful before each trip and luck so far. But problems can happen no matter how careful one is.

Ed K
24 days ago

Always have the Left Front tire soft in the spring when I move the Coach out of my barn. Happened with the original tires and the replacement tires, I just keep an eye on it and top it up as necessary. Been like that for 12 years now.

Thomas D
24 days ago

And according Murphy’s law it’s got to be the inside dual.

Bernie Turner
24 days ago
Reply to  Thomas D

It was explained to me that the inside dual follows the front wheel and the front wheel flips up the nails etc and and the inside dual runs over it.

Diane Mc
24 days ago

Fortunately at a campground in the morning before taking off. Had roadside service bring a tire. In hindsight believe it was a faulty TMPS sensor. Unfortunately, my husband was ill at the time otherwise I am sure he might have figured it out and just had the tire filled. We were 3000 miles from home and eager to get there to resolve my husbands medical issue. Which we eventually did.

Billy Vitro
24 days ago

Early in my RVing life, we had two flats on one vacation, one on the trip out, and one on the trip back. The second one beat a hole into the dining area when it came apart, which we didn’t even realize until we got hone and went in to unload. Take care of your tires, kids!

Judy G
24 days ago

We were within sight of East Glacier, MT when my Class C blew a dually [no monitoring system in those days]. Pulled off and made call to my roadside assistance – they would send someone from the other side of the Rockies to arrive in three hours. Checked my computer and found local tire store. He advised put flashers on and drive slowly on into town…problem solved, luckily.

Tom
24 days ago

Never flat, but very low pressure. Happened while TPMS was installed and working. Expensive toy. Check your tires personally before each trip and at your destination.

Impavid
24 days ago
Reply to  Tom

I’ve driven for 55 years without a TPMS. I’ve now had two makes and nothing but trouble with them so don’t use one any more. I have ten tires, 6 on the truck and 4 on the RV, and check them every hour. Some times all this new fangled stuff is just a pain in the……………..back bumper.

Roger Marble
17 days ago
Reply to  Impavid

Tom take a look at my tire blog. www,RVTireSafety.net I have a number of posts on TPMS including how to properly program the system for your needs. Don’t know where or who you bought your systems from but I usually suggest you get from the companies that sell at RV Rallies or advertise in RV club Magazines or advertise in RV Travel.com as they know RVs and can answer your questions better than someone at eBay or Wallymart.