RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
Some folks insist that they “have” to drive at 70 to 80 mph while pulling 15,000 pounds of trailer on old, too-small tires. I had to jump in with this reply.
My reply on forums like this one is from the viewpoint of trying to give the best answer from the point of extending the life of your tires.
Personally, as a retired professional race car driver, I don’t buy the “speed kills” mantra. If that were true I would have died in the ’70s when I started racing.
IMO it is inattention and the false belief that “I am the best driver around” that are the problems. If you are listening to the radio, you are not paying attention. Worse, if you drive and are having an extended conversation or listening to an audiobook or the news, you are not paying full attention to the task at hand. Do you keep both hands on the steering wheel or just a couple fingers from one hand? There are more examples but you should get the point.
Having only driven cross-country four times I have a little experience, but I don’t understand those who claim you have to drive the posted speed or “get run over.” I set my cruise control at 62 to 63 and do not recall anyone passing and honking their frustration. But then I keep to the right lane and keep an eye on the vehicles behind me so on the occasions when I pass a slower vehicle, I do not pull out in front of someone who feels they own the highway.
As a Tire Design Engineer, I know that tires have a finite life of cycles and tread wear is not the only limiting factor. The higher the load or lower the inflation or faster the speed or hotter the temperature or longer you park the tires in full sunlight, the sooner you will “consume” the finite life in any tire, no matter the brand. There are just too many variables to predict the moment when a tire will “give up the ghost.” Also, tires do not always fail the instant you have done “fatal” damage to them. Sometimes it might take many miles or days or weeks to come apart and surprise you while you are drinking a coffee with one hand and steering with your knees.
My blog (RVtiresafety.net) has more than 300 posts on the numerous ways you can damage tires and shorten their life. I still get replies, almost every day, from those who think that because they haven’t had a tire “blow out” or been surprised with a tire failure that they know all there is to know about tire life and proper usage.
There is a saying a friend uses frequently: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” IMO my blog is a large body of cool, clean, refreshing water, and it’s free. Drink up.
Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net.