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.