By Roger Marble
I had someone point out that the September issue of Consumer Reports (CR) had a couple of pages on RV tires and wondered if I could offer my opinion. I do not subscribe to CR, as I have been less than impressed with some previous articles over the years. But I went to the local library and borrowed a copy.
I just finished the six-page article. I will start off by saying my opinion of Consumer Reports and their information on tires has not changed. “Danger on wheels” might give some the impression that this exposé is based on a broad investigation into tires in RV application. In fact, almost the entire article is on a single line of Goodyear tires that was in production 20 years ago – the G159. There is a lot of information on lawsuits and lawyers. But I found no hard data on tire durability or test data or failure analysis from CR.
Disappointed in Consumer Report’s only warning
I have no personal knowledge of the G159 or any specific failures of the subject tire. However, I was disappointed that the only warning CR provided was that tires should be removed from RV service “at 10 years old from date of manufacture.”
As an engineer, I would prefer to set aside claims and innuendos and focus on facts and data. CR did offer what they called “9 Tips for Safer RV Travel.” Of those, only three even mention tires. One is the recommendation to replace tires that are 10 years old. Readers of RVTravel.com and of my RVTireSafety blog already know that 10 years is the MAXIMUM tire age, with shorter usage time often recommended. Some are as short as 3 years in certain applications.
The article did point out that “about 40,000 G159s” were placed in RV service and that 72 RVs suffered tire failures. Given that 22.5″ wheel size would suggest Class-A usage with a normal 6 tires per RV, those numbers suggest more than 6,000 “sets” of G159 tires were applied and possibly as few as 1.2% of RVs suffered tire failure. No mention was made of how many of the 72 failures were the result of under-inflation, overloading, puncture, or impact. I too often see that any tire failure is blamed on the tire. Yet very few of those claims include any forensic inspection or identification of the mystery “defect”.
I agree with CR’s second recommendation
A second recommendation from CR was to invest in a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). I completely agree that every RV should be equipped with a properly programmed TPMS. They said: “The better systems involve fitting a sensor inside the tire.” I wonder what testing CR did to arrive at that suggestion. Where is their data that supports the notion that internal to a tire somehow performs better than the more normal external, valve stem mounted sensors? I have never heard of CR doing any long-term, direct comparison testing and evaluation of the different TPMS applications – as I have been doing for the last three years.
It is a bit of a stretch to suggest that “balance the weight in your RV” to reduce tire wear is a strong safety recommendation. They do suggest that the weight in the RV should be based on the capacity of the RV. But there is no specific mention that each individual tire should be measured to confirm its loading. They didn’t even educate their readers on how to know the weight limit on their tires.
Is there a technical problem with the Goodyear G159?
I do not know and the CR article only uses inference and suggestions that the tire was “related to” or “associated” with accidents. But I saw no evidence of what the claimed “defect” might be or if there even is one in the G159. There is a small mention that some owners might have lowered the tire inflation. But there is no mention if that act resulted in tires being overloaded.
In In my opinion, Consumer Reports might get a few additional sales of their magazine from that article. But the article certainly did not offer any insight into how to prevent tire failures in RV use or into the importance of never overloading or under-inflating tires.
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