RV Tire Safety: Are your tires “defective”?


with RV tire expert Roger Marble
[updated from Nov. 2018 post]

People making the claim that their tires were somehow “defective” is an all-too-often occurrence on various RV forums. I even hear this complaint at my RV tire seminars. I do note that when there are tire problems, including actual “failure,” it’s common for some to say, “My xxx brand tires failed. I will never buy xxx tires again.”

It’s important that we have a mutual understanding of what is meant by tire “failure.” For some, this means the tire simply came apart. The term “failure” could also be applied to a snow tire that didn’t provide enough traction to prevent getting stuck on slick ice. To a driver of a race car, it might mean that the cornering on one specification tire wasn’t as good as with a different specification. It could even mean the dry slick tread pattern failed to provide enough traction when it started to rain during the race.

Well, sorry to tell you but there is no such thing as a “fail-proof” tire. This was even said under oath by a DOT spokesperson during the Ford Explorer rollover fiasco of 2000.

Even the new “run-flat” tires available on some expensive cars can “fail” if driven too fast or too far when “flat.”

Today’s tires are amazingly robust – even when they are made in some country other than the U.S. I am sure that many of us remember how bad “Made In Japan” was considered when we were growing up, but just think of today’s perception of quality of cars made or designed in Japan.

As I pointed out in this blog previously, it is important that the tires you are using are appropriate for your ACTUAL loads and usage. If you have a heavy trailer application and both the tire type and the size were wrong, and the tread pattern was wrong for the application, why would this be the tire’s fault?

If you put a truck tire with a heavy off-road mud traction tread design on the front of your 40-foot DP and had loud noise and vibration and a harsh ride, would that be the tire’s responsibility?

Would simply changing tire brands from, say, Bridgestone to Michelin solve the problems? No, of course not.

From my experiences as a tire engineer, I can tell you that I can probably “fail” any tire in under an hour and under 50 miles if you let me set the conditions.

A tire is just a tool you use to get a job done. If you don’t select the correct tool that is appropriate for the job you want to be done, why is it the fault of the tool manufacturer? Think of the absolute best tool company. Now select one of their flat blade screwdrivers. OK, now start using it as a chisel and pound on it as you try to cut through some rusty bolts. After cutting through a few bolts would you blame SK or MAC or  Snap-On or ???? if the point of the screwdriver is dented and chipped?

All too often tire selection seems to consider price as the number one concern. This observation is certainly supported by almost every post that asks for tire suggestions from RV owners. Sometimes it seems as if the price might also be the only consideration for some RV assemblers. Now, I would be the last to offer that simply having a higher price doesn’t automatically make any given tire “better,” and I am not suggesting that price should not be considered.

For some, any tire “failure” is considered proof that it was somehow “defective” even if the tire wasn’t.

We need to be smarter consumers when it comes to tires if we want to avoid ending up with tires we consider “defective.” To me, a “defect” would mean there is an identifiable condition in the tire when new, that would prevent the tire from performing as expected for the stated life of the tire “when applied and used properly for it’s intended purpose.” This means we should not expect a tire to run overloaded or underinflated or at excessive speed for years at a time.

The various RV owners’ manuals I have seen include warnings and advice on load, inflation speed and tire life. Have you read that information? Do you follow the recommendations? If you don’t and the tire “failed,” do you accept responsibility or do you simply claim the tire was somehow “defective”?


Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.



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1 year ago

Nicely written article. I too often hear about tire failure when in reality, the owner has no clue about the RV weight or what proper air pressure is. Rarely do you find anyone who checks their tire temps when they pull over for fuel.

Keep up the good and interesting articles Roger.

1 year ago

I’m still unclear on proper inflation. During the day I can start out at 40 deg and end up at 75. The max inflation is 110 psi cold. If I inflate to 110 at 40 deg the tires will be overinflated at 70 deg later on. Should I let air out in afternoon and then reinflate the next morning? I would think not but am not sure.

Roger Marble
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve. Don’t worry about the hot, running inflation. Always set your pressure when the tires are at ambient temperature i.e. not in direct sunlight or having been driven on in the previous couple of hours. I have covered the proper setting of pressure a number of times in my weekly blog http://www.RVTireSafety.net. Don’t worry about the hot pressure being “overinflated.” We ONLY talk about the pressure when the tires are “cold”.

1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

Thanks Roger. I wasn’t clear in my description. The 40 and 75 deg temps are ambient air temp not tire temps. My tire’s “cold”pressures seem to vary quite a bit with this air temp swing. In the afternoon at 75 deg the tires are around 110. The next cold morning the TPMS is alarming as several tires are under 100 psi.

Roger Marble
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve

As I covered in these blog posts [ http://www.rvtiresafety.net/search?q=NRT ]tire air pressure changes by about 2% for each change of 10°F so I would expect about 7% or 8% change with those temperatures. If any one tire was in sunlight it might change more.

Gary Broughton
1 year ago

In 40 years of towing trailers I have had only 2 flats and they were caused by road debris.
I keep my bearing greased, tires properly inflated and change them when cracked or close to 7 years old.

1 year ago

The one thing that drives me crazy, are the “KNOW IT ALLS”, who think that running your tires with less air in them will give you a smoother ride! Yikes! But, I hear this all the time.

For instance, I run Sailun Tires on the 5th wheel. They are H rated, so the cold pressure is 125 psi. It is an all Steel Belted Tire and they are excellent. Reasearch them and find that SAILUN makes large commercial truck tires and have had very few problems with them failing.

I also run a TPMS on all my Truck and RV tires. Wouldn’t go down the road without it!

Proper maintenance and UNDERSTANDING are the keys to having a good relationship with your Tires. Neglect them and get your checkbook out and prepare to pay out some major bucks for not only new tires, but damage to your RV as well!

1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff

I use the same tires (dual 8,000 lb axles)…No problems thus far.