RV Tire Safety: One tire fails – Is its “mate” still safe to use?

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By Roger Marble
I had a question from a friend about replacing both tires when one failed on the same side of the RV.

In motorhomes with “dual” tires (side by side) in the rear and you do not get the early warning from TPMS of air loss, you need to seriously consider replacing the “unfailed” tire because when it’s “mate” failed, the unfailed tire was overloaded by 100% for some unknown number of miles. 

You can always take the unfailed tire to a dealer for that brand of tire and have it inspected inside and out, and if ruled OK in writing by the dealer, you could keep the tire as a spare.

However, if it ran some unknown number of miles at 100% overload, I would not even trust it as a spare. 

Now in the case of a multi-axle RV trailer (tandem axle) and one tire failed, and again you were not running a TPMS to get an advance warning, we need to consider what happened to the load on that side of the trailer. Wouldn’t all the load from that end of the axle with the failed tire transfer to the unfailed tire on that side of the trailer? This transfer would be transferred through the springs and the link between the axles. The load supported by the “failed” tire doesn’t simply evaporate, does it? It has to be taken up by the unfailed tire on that side of the trailer.

So, again, that tire should be removed, inspected, and replaced as with the motorhome example. It might be OK to keep as an emergency spare but only used with great caution and only if inspected and judged OK by a dealer of that brand of tire.

This is one of the things people do not think of when considering running a TPMS. If you get advance warning of air loss in one tire in a “Dual” or “Tandem” location you not only might save the cost of the punctured tire if it was caught soon enough to be repaired, but you might even have saved enough by not losing the 2nd tire, not to mention avoiding the thousands of dollars of possible damage to the RV.

 

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

 ##RVT959

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Roger B
16 days ago

I have seen what happens to the tires when only one is replaced. Even if the remaining tire appears good the tire is partially worn and you replace the one that failed, the tires are now different circumference. They roll different distances each time they turn and cause extra friction that eats them up.

Wolfe
1 month ago

I have to second the “inspect and replace” wisdom… I DO run a TPMS, and received no warning before (I assume) a road hazard popped one of my trailer tires. The mate was only overloaded for the 100yds it took me to stop after the explosion, so I only replaced the shredded rubber. Within a couple hundred miles, KABOOM, it’s mate also exploded. It might be total chance, but the timing seems suspicious.

Now that you can get a 4ch TPMS for $15, I’ll also second USING them — my third “tire problem” was ironically caused by the new wireless TPMS over-stressing the tire-stem. This time, I got the friendly low pressure warning, urgent deflation warning, and had a jack under the axle before the tire was dangerously soft. I replaced the stems, and both those tires have been fine. So, GET a TPMS, but replace the stems if you have screw-on sensors.

Alex
1 month ago
Reply to  Wolfe

ALWAYS replace rubber valve stems with steel if using screw on TPMS. Those sensors weigh about 1/2 oz and imagine that rubber stem flexing as the wheel spins. I learned the hard way – TPMS vendors don’t always tell you rubber stems will fail!

AlanB
1 month ago

Had that happen to me on my motorhome. I pulled off the road to look at a map. Unknown to me when pulled back on the inside dual caught something on the sidewall and ripped part of out. I drove all the way through part of MS and LA into TX and discovered this at a campground. Roadside Assist came and replace the torn up Goodyear. I drove home to AZ, then replaced the other tire as well. They did an inspection and found nothing wrong, but I didn’t want to trust if after that. I think I was lucky.