with RV tire expert Roger Marble
Every few months someone posts a question on one of the numerous RV Forums I monitor asking if it is possible to prevent the damage done to the RV when a tire fails and has a belt separation or comes apart from a sidewall Run Low Flex failure.
I have previously written on the idea of trying to “contain” tire failure on my blog, but for those that missed the information here is a summary and links for more details.
In the tire industry, we have test drums surrounded by steel grating which weighs 6# to 10# per square foot, so don’t forget you would need a substantial structure to support a 200# – 500# “shield” over each tire position. This extra weight would also significantly decrease the amount of “stuff” you can pack into your RV.
IMO, having worked around tire test labs, an effective “shield” on an RV is unlikely to work when a tire fails. I feel that prevention is a much better approach.
To better understand the problem I suggest you review the following:
1. Read this post on blowouts.
2. This post shows the kind of forces we are talking about.
3. Check out the safety cage around this tire test machine:
4. Buy, program and test a TPMS.
5. Every 2,000 miles or annually (whichever comes first) do a “Free Spin” inspection of trailer tires.
Prevention is much better and less expensive than trying to protect your wheel wells.
Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.
I understand the concerns and the suggestions for using stronger material in wheel wells. I think that one thing people forget is the need to anchor any material used in an effort to “contain” the damage. Even if you had a heavy mat of “Kevlar or similar, what would you anchor the Kevlar to? A quick look behind the walls or floor of most RVs will reveal some lightweight 1×2″ wood that is sometimes just partially stapled to other 1×2” wood. I have seen floors that are sheet fiberglass molded to styrofoam insulation. IMO none of these materials stand a chance of containing the pieces of steel belt flailing at 75 mph as the tire disintegrates. I can only offer suggestions that I believe if followed will decrease the odds of suffering a tire failure. Finally, given the fact that the RV industry is price driven not quality-driven I doubt that we will ever see a significant improvement until DOT requires the same quality and durability from ST type tires.
I changed from a Load Range E tire to a G tire. No more blowouts.
Had to upgrade my rims. The E tire was barely rated to carry my 5th wheel. I went to a G because there were no F rated tires in an LT. I inflate to only 90 psi which is more than enough to carry the weight of my rig. GVWR is 15k.
I wish Airstream used Kevlar instead of that plastic material.
I’d agree heavy steel cages wouldn’t be feasible but there are TOUGH fiber reinforced plastics that would be infinitely better than the tarpaper and cardboard wheelwell that might as well have not even existed when my tire came apart and took much of the wall out. I don’t need to drive 5 miles flogging tread, but lasting 100 yards to stop without doing 10K of damage seems fair.
I was going to reply and then found some genius already said what I was going to! I’m still wondering about a lightweight but tough shield (maybe even just painting the wheelwell with RhinoLiner?). Yes, incredible forces and plastic will flex – but tire shouldn’t penetrate and tear off the wall. Rather replace some plywood flooring than much more structure.
Also related: my new rig routes a gas line RIGHT THROUGH the wheelwell… gives me the willies! Any suggestions on armoring it, or better just to cap/reroute it?